I used to love cycling as a kid and have many happy memories of spending hours and hours, not really going anywhere but hanging out with friends and having fun.
One memory from back in the early ’80s is taking part in a scheme called Cycling Proficiency if my fading memory serves me. It was basically a number of sessions where you were taught how to cycle on the road in a safe environment, a school playground in my case. At the end of it, there were some tests and I was put forward to a county-wide challenge where children from all over North Yorkshire competed to become the Young Cyclist of the Year. Needless to say, that year it was me, and I got to keep a huge shield (for a year) and had my picture in the local newspaper (Harrogate Advertiser). I really should try and track down that picture and add it to my CV!
I can’t remember all the bikes I’ve had over the years, but do remember having a silver Raleigh Grifter, which was the machine that I won the prestigious award! My grandad had fitted lights powered by a dynamo, but which was also wired up to a massive rechargeable battery pack so it continued to work when the wheels weren’t moving. Oh, how technology has moved on!
When we moved to Scotland, my partner and I bought each other bikes for Christmas – I got a Dawes Discovery 401 and she got a Dawes Discovery 301, both hybrid bikes with mountain bike type frames but thinner road type wheels – and for a while went out on small trips (5-15 miles) usually away from any traffic and somewhere flat, along the canal (the Grand Union runs through Linlithgow to Edinburgh or Falkirk) or similar. That pretty much stopped when our daughter arrived, and even though she’s now 4, she still hasn’t really taken to getting on a couple of different bikes we’ve got her.
So where exactly is this stroll down memory lane going? Good question, and here’s the answer! At the end of last year, I decided to treat myself to a Road Bike, with the good intention of getting out a few times a week and maybe even commuting through to Edinburgh when I’m working that way. At no point in that decision-making process did I realise quite how hard that would be or quite how unfit I’d become over the last 44 years!
As someone who works in Procurement, I spent quite a lot of time researching different bikes, to the point that I was completely lost as to what I actually needed to buy. There is such a wide range of materials, components, sizes, styles that without a little guidance I think I would have still been looking. Fortunately, someone I work with (who is a keen cyclist and commutes to the office) considered selling me one of their old bikes. He eventually changed his mind but suggested a newer version of that bike would be worth looking at. It was a Boardman Road Team Carbon, which used to be sold exclusively by Halfords in the UK. I had a look, and at the time Halford had 20% off all Boardman bikes, so that looked promising. A little more googling and I managed to get a further 10% off by joining British Cycling, and a further 8% off using my company Edenred scheme. I managed to get the bike with an RRP of £999.99 for just under £675, and so far I think it’s a great machine for the money. If you’re looking to buy a bike and just don’t know where to begin, this detailed blog covers all the basics and should give you a better idea of what to look for.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t pedal itself and getting used to cycling up hills is proving to be a real challenge. I didn’t do much last year when I got the bike, but have been making a concerted effort this year and have been out three times so far. The first trip was around 15 miles and the second just over 28 miles, both of which left me in need of a good few days recovery time! That said, it was easier the 2nd time even though I went further and I’ve now got a regular buddy to go cycling with every couple of weeks. The aim is to build up to 100 miles so I can take part in the Ride to the Sun event, which starts in Carlise late at night and arrives back in Edinburgh for the sunrise. Maybe not this year, but hopefully next…
My latest ride (25 miles) is linked below, but if you want to keep an eye on my progress follow me on Strava…