Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Inaugural Ride

Finally the time had come. I had bought the bike, the equipment and the clothing. Either this was going to be fun or one of those "got all the gear but no idea" experiences.

My intention was to keep the ride short and to hope that none of the neighbours saw my Lycra-clad body. I failed on both objectives. The neighbours seemed to be leaving their houses the same time as me (good job I had sunglasses on!) and the "ride around the block" turned in to a 17 mile venture that went further out than I ever anticipated. 

I won't bore you with the minutiae of the ride, if you really want to know the finer details you can check it out here. It is safe to say that I did enjoy myself - even moreso than I would have ever expected after covering 17 miles! And those Lycra padded pants? They were top dog; I never realised once that I was sat on a razor blade!

The one thing of note that did happen though was that first-blood was drawn less than a quarter of a mile from my house. I changed the gears on an uphill stretch and unluckily for me I changed them in the wrong direction. With unexpected slackness in the chain the pedal lurched forward and my knee, unceremoniously, clattered in to the handle bar. With blood now running down my leg, from the cut on my knee, I just carried on. I may not have an idea about cycling, but I can certainly look the part!

Edit: Post has been backdated to recall the events as they happened - originally written 14/8/2015

My Apollo 10: A Test Spin Fail...

Last night my new acquisition was safely put away in the garage and my new clothes brought in to the house. I tried the Lycra on for laughs size. Fits snugly doesn't it? Padded bums - well that's certainly a new one on me!

Anyway I had a little time between errands so I thought I would just ride up an down along the road just to acclimatise myself with the bike. This was suppose to be like the Apollo 10 mission; a dress rehearsal (without wearing the Lycra!) for the maiden voyage. Brakes are how I remembered them to be from back in youth days (and they work much in the same way). I also recalled how to the change gears (as shown by the man in the shop). Back in my day the gear changers were attached to the frame, not hidden behind the brake lever! Changing them down was a doddle. But it became apparent I didn't pay as much attention as I should have back at the shop. Or I wasn't shown how to change the gears back up. Yeah, that's it, I wasn't shown! ;)

So here I am, on a shiny new bike, riding up and down the street with the worse combination of gears. Could I get the things to change? Buggered if I knew how to. My journey to the moon and back stalled for the want of variable speed!

The bike was back in garage and it was Youtube time. I couldn't really go back to the shop and ask could I? I found this video, which saved me masses of egg on face! Never thought to move the whole brake lever to change up gears - ingenious! Now I come to think of it I was shown this in the shop after all - doh!

Edit: Post has been backdated to recall the events as they happened - originally written 12/8/2015

Friday, 10 July 2015

I've Only Gone and Done It!

My mind now made up and it was now today. No more tomorrows!

I took a trip to my local bike shop in Dewsbury. A quaint establishment called Bill Hargreaves Cycles. Not as "shop-fronty" as the likes of Evans Cycles. In fact upon first viewing the shop it looks a little run-down from the outside.

But looks can be deceiving.

As soon as you walk through the doors it is a treasure trove of bikes, accessories and supplies. You name it and I'm sure they have it. The staff were as friendly as can be. I was given time to peruse the wares and at no time did I feel like I was being hounded or pressured in to buying.

After about an hour of looking and trying I eventually decided upon the Trek 1.2 (2013). It was the last one in stock and the frame was my size. Because of this I got a little more knocked off of the asking price too!

Bike sorted. Just the kit next. I was pointed to the Lycra section. What me in tight figure hugging clothes with a fat padded bottom on show? You're having a laugh aren't you...oh, wait on, this is serious. I got the feeling that it was the expected norm. Oh, OK then. Go on - so long as no one will laugh at me.

Shoes, cleats, fancy clip on peddles. Me thinking "How do I get my feet out of these in a fall?". Oh I knew the answer to that one, I simply won't fall!

Water bottles and holders, saddle bag, spare inner tube and tyre levers. That's it. Me done. There is no looking back - unless I am in the saddle of course!

The only sticking point after I left the shop was "how the hell do I get home with all of this?" I had to work some serious magic with the car seats. I know, a bit of an oxymoron going on here. Maybe I should have walked to the shop - but that would have felt, you know, like exercise!

Edit: Post has been backdated to recall the events as they happened - originally written 6/8/2015

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Finally...Words Into Action

For a long time I have contemplated getting a bike. OK, getting my "+1" as I already have a Mountain Bike (that is over 15 years old).

Originally my only reason for contemplating such a move was purely for financial gain. I had always said that if I was to work at the same location for 5 days a week (that had shower facilities) then I would ride there. Well now I am and only living 11 miles away, what is so difficult about that? Not only would I save money (by not using the car) I'd get fit in the process. Oh and I'd be helping the environment. Can't forget the green cause now can we!

But the problem with this was that there was always tomorrow. There is always a tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes, but it always there. And the elephant in the room was that I would have spend some money to save some. 

It wasn't going to happen. I'm a Yorkshireman who has small arms with deep pockets!

Then something did happen; my father-in-law, Steve, died. It wasn't sudden and we all knew it was coming. He lost his battle with cancer. He fought on for 9 months after being told of it's return. But when that time came it was still a shock. A body-blow for those left to remember him. It didn't help that he was 12 days away from his 58th birthday.

Steve spent the last nine days of his life in the care of Wakefield Hospice. When I received the call from my wife I immediately rushed there to be with the family. She had our 4 year old child with her at the time and when I arrived I took over the looking after him.

Whilst at the Hospice, with the shock of it all starting to hit, I was perusing the noticeboards. The wife and I had already discussed how we could help raise funds for the Wakefield Hospice, particularly after she found out that their Charity Shops are loosing out to the likes of eBay and Gumtree. And there it was; a poster only advertising the Wakefield Hospice Sportive - Dark Peak Cycling Challenge. The small print described a choice of 2 routes, either 50 miles or 75 miles - both of which take in the view at the top of Holme Moss. You know, one of the hills used for the Tour de France when it came to Yorkshire. Yes, that very same Holme Moss! Gulp!

If ever there was an incentive, here it was staring me in the face. 

With over 10 weeks to go I could do it. I can get a bike, get fit and do the 50 miles. If not for me, then for Steve!

So it's time I put these words in to action... And tomorrow will come!

Edit: Post has been backdated to recall the events as they happened - originally written 4/8/2015