Breeze

As you know I took up cycling again earlier this summer. So far on these pages I have written mostly about our tandem but I do also have two other bikes – a heavy old (25+ years) Raleigh mountain bike type which used to be my daughter’s and also a much lighter classic road-racing bike (a more recent purchase). I ride one or other of these two or three times a week and we go out on the tandem about once a week. Usually if I go out on my own I ride the Raleigh and only go a short distance, between 6-9 miles, the knobbly off-road tyres now replaced by road tyres. If I go out on the road bike I am usually in company with my husband and we do a bit more, say 10-15 miles.

Classic Road-race bike

My Classic Road-race bike

It has occurred to us from time to time that it might  be fun to ride out in company with others, as a social activity and for me to learn to ride out in a group. However, as I am sure you have noticed, cycling clubs seem to consist mostly of men. They think nothing of going out to do a minimum of 30 miles, and often considerably more, at a pace more suited to a breakaway group at the Tour de France. (My eldest son rides out on his own every Sunday morning and regularly does around 60 miles in not much more than a couple of hours.)

In my search for a more leisurely group I recently came across a cycling network going under the name of Breeze (www.breezebikerides.com). This is an initiative set up by British Cycling in conjunction with Sky (check out http://www.goskyride.com). Breeze is billed as ‘The fun and friendly network for women from British Cycling’, the idea being that they provide easy-going local bike rides to encourage more women to take-up or return to cycling in an environment where they will not be intimidated by the men. They claim to go at the pace of the slowest rider and no-one gets left behind. Okay, this is women only so hubby can’t come, but I discovered that there was a local group that meets on a Tuesday evening on the outskirts of our county town about 6 miles from my home, so I signed up for a ride a couple of weeks ago. The ride was scheduled to last an hour and I thought that being as this was to be a fun, social, leisurely ride with some of the participants having done very little cycling (as suggested by the publicity) that we would do possibly up to 10 miles at a relatively easy pace. How wrong can you be!

Raleigh MTB

My old Raleigh

To be fair the ride was billed as ‘challenging’, but that’s a relative term isn’t it? I mean what’s challenging to one person is easy to another. The best I could ascertain was that it would include some hills – fair enough, they are hard to avoid around here. I decided to take my heavy old Raleigh – after all I didn’t want to look too capable if some ladies were fairly new to the game. Big mistake! The group, eight of us plus the ride leader, were all on modern, light-weight, hybrid or road bikes, obviously long-time regular riders and all except a couple probably at least half my age if not younger.

The leader announced we would be doing about 15 miles (in an hour!) and proceeded to set off at a substantial pace. Now I have my pride and hate to feel that I am the one holding everyone else up so I put in mega effort to keep up on my heavy old bike. In the event, as we were losing light (the nights are drawing in) we only did around 14 miles but at the last proper hill (as opposed to the many smaller humps) I got left well behind and had to peddle like the clappers to catch up my considerable deficit once I got to the top, meanwhile they of course were still bowling along. No-body seemed to have noticed my absence by the time I coasted up behind them as they stopped at a junction. Seeing we were all there off we went again without me having the chance to catch my breath.

Once back at the car park I discovered that the week before they had gone much more slowly as one lady in the group couldn’t keep up. Perhaps I should have swallowed my pride and admitted I was struggling. I was asked if I would come again. Well I couldn’t go last week as I had something else on but I said I would probably sign up for the week after (ie tomorrow).

I gave myself a rest the next day but on the Thursday I went out for a short ride on the Raleigh and I just ‘hadn’t got the legs’ as the pro’s say, not only that I also still seemed to be struggling to get sufficient air into my lungs. In fact it took me best part of a week to fully recover! I have signed up for tomorrow, but I have learned my lesson – this time I will take my road-race bike.

With the nights drawing in I understand these Tuesday rides will soon swap to Sunday daytime but Sunday is one of the days my husband and I ride out together, often on the tandem, so I may not continue with the group. Perhaps we could start a mixed social cycling group nearer home, the Skyride network encourages this but I think, with winter coming, it might be better to wait until the Spring before trying to set up such a group. Watch this space.

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PS: For those who may be interested, my daughter who lives in Spain has recently set up a blog about her cycling activities at Mad Cycling in the Midday Sun – check it out!

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. julespaige
    Sep 19, 2016 @ 15:45:36

    Ooh…do they show the sites in Spain… I’ll have to check that out.
    As for not having the legs.. I think I like walking. I’ve got a nice bike, but I have yet to figure out how to use all the speeds for the small hills in my neighborhood.
    I don’t think I’m group material at all 🙂

    Reply

    • Libby
      Sep 20, 2016 @ 13:46:26

      Actually I’m not sure I’m group material either, just hubby and maybe a couple of other friends would be nice. Happy on my own too, enjoying the scenery and chance to think my own thoughts. Still, I’ll give it another go.

      Reply

      • julespaige
        Sep 20, 2016 @ 16:21:51

        This morning I did a round about way to and then a different route back home – three miles by foot. Some of the area doesn’t have sidewalks. Maybe when it gets just a bit cooler I’ll get my bike out. 😉

  2. The Weekly Day
    Sep 24, 2016 @ 03:15:09

    I would probably just get rid of that old heavy Raleigh of yours, Libby 🙂 60 miles by your son, too. That is amazing. The most I’ve ever done is around 25. I’d better step it up some!

    Reply

  3. mad cycling in the middy sun
    Oct 15, 2016 @ 22:06:51

    Reblogged this on mad cycling in the midday sun and commented:
    This is my mums blog, I’m so proud of her getting out on the bikes and joining the N+1 club…what’s the quote ‘I don’t need another bike…said no-one ever’

    Reply

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