Drum roll please… many years in the making, I finally entered and completed a hill climb race. And yes, I loved it! What kind of animal looks forward to pain, who destroys their body in pursuit of seconds and metres gained? The hill climber. A strange beast.
I’ve always enjoyed hill climbs. There’s nothing quite like the fire in your lungs and legs near the summit of a hill and knowing you’ve still got to push on. A mental challenge as much as physical, only will power and the ability to block pain gets you through the final metres of a climb. Come on!
The pack, the bunch, the group, the bastards. Group riding is both a chore and a delight, your definition determined by the gap between the pace of the pack and your fitness.
- The main field or group of cyclists in a race.
French, literally ‘small ball’
The conversation between head and body when you’ve been cycling too much.
Head to body: I’m up for this, let’s have it!
Body to head: I’m not so sure, I’m a little achy. We cycled three big days back to back this week.
Head: That’s true but I feel great, come on, stop your whining and let’s get out there. Rule 5 yeah?
Body: Rule 5? How old are you? I thought you were the wise one?
The New Forest is an amazing place to cycle. A plethora of tiny lanes, lost to the world. Riding beneath the trees, between horses and ponies and donkeys, green everywhere, a carpet of purple heather, the smell of fern, of pine.
A look up, a quick glance of the sea, sail boats rocking in the Solent. Hills? There’s few to talk of, gentle rises here and there, road surfaces excellent. If I could build a hill free cycling paradise it would look a lot like the New Forest. Only with even more donkeys.
Get off my road, you shout, as if I’m an immigrant ahead of you in the doctors, a leech on your neck. You are vocal yet you are in the minority. Venom for no other reason than I check your progress, your assumed and ill conceived right to the road makes me your enemy, a fly you must swat aside, a lesson you must teach.
Once you’ve scared me, passing so close that I could touch your car with my elbow, I wonder how the kids in the back seat of your car perceive you, I wonder how you react at work when you’re told to do something, or how your partner puts up with you after you’ve had a few beers, or how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror. Proud probably, unfortunately.
Weather calm, legs rested. Ready. Ride London 46, that’s right, 46, awaited. And boy was I excited.
I only heard about this new shorter route of the RideLondon 100 when I was invited twice by different people on the same day. It’s a great idea to reduce the route and encourage new cyclists to get into cycling.
This was a question I’d been asking for a few years. Me, procrastinate much? I’ve been a solo rider for five years now. Riding my bike has always been an escape, a time to forget life’s ills. Cycling has been my meditation.
Yet I’d been thinking about joining a cycling club yet never committing. Why? Firstly, I’m pretty anti-social, not in a throwing beer bottles at police English football hooligan kind of way, I just enjoy my own company, where I’m always right, funny and intelligent! Yet alongside this was also my fears of the unknown and my perception of cycling clubs in the UK being a bit cliquey and snobby.
A warm up ride through the Brecon Beacons seemed like a good idea when sat at my laptop, not so much when sat in the saddle. It’s been a while since I last cycled in Wales, how quickly I’d forgotten the only flat roads in this land are supermarket car parks.
Life is all about the little things. A cold beer on a hot summer day. Sleeping late. The smile of a stranger. Theme tunes from 1980s TV shows.
The little things make life what it is, they have to, for the big things are few and far between. Which is just as well because our tiny human minds would explode if life was a series of never-ending drama à la British TV soaps.
Cycling too lends itself to the little things. In a social media age of ‘epic’ everything and a billion kudos or likes, it’s still the tiny details that make me fall in love with cycling.
Cleaning your bike is something you do less than you should. We don’t all have pro mechanics to hand, waiting to take the bike off us immediately after our ride with a big sponge in their hand. Yet there’s nothing quite like riding a freshly cleaned chainset. You can see the cyclist’s dilemma. We can’t go out and buy a new bike every time we get our bike dirty. Well, not all the time anyway.
Cleaning your bike is horrible. For years I managed to clean mine in a one bedroom flat with no garden, commandeering the bath on the promise I’d leave the room as clean as I found it. Bike upside down, I would dress the room in more plastic than your average murder scene. Most of the time I would fall in to the bath. Here then is a basic guide of how not to clean your bike, the benefits and also a cheat’s guide to cleaning it quickly.