Panic Time

From time to time I post about my cycling activities. Just lately however I don’t seem to have had a great deal of time for cycling – either too busy with other things or the weather just hasn’t been inviting (I’m a bit of a fair weather rider). Occasional rides out on wet roads have needed major bike washing sessions on my return.

Revised Book CoverOne of my main excuses recently has been my latest book ‘Simply Elfje’ which is now nearing completion. The picture shows my revised (final) version of the cover. I have given myself an Easter deadline to get it done and that is fast approaching. The reason for this particular deadline is that I have so much coming up during the lead up to and after Easter that if I don’t get it done by then it will end up not getting done until July or August. So far I am on track. Fingers crossed.

Working on the book though, as I said, has made it difficult to get out on the bike very often and this is my reason for panic. At the end of April we are hoping to do a 45 mile charity ride in aid of our local hospice and then at the end of May we are already booked for a 40K Classic Road Race Bike rally in Spain.

I have mentioned these events before but I’m panicking because I haven’t done much training and now I’m really getting a bit worried that I won’t make the distance. On top of that we will soon be away for at least a couple of weeks as we are taking our yacht over to France. While on the boat I won’t be doing much cycling. Yes, we do have folding bikes on the boat but these are not good for serious cycling over long distances. They are a boon for going shopping or local sight-seeing, but a long ride? Forget it! We’ve tried it – jolly uncomfortable!

I have been getting out on the bike more over the last few days and today would be a good day for a ride too but I had to stay in this morning waiting for a builder to come and look at a little problem with a leak in a corner of our conservatory and also I’m so far behind with the boring things like house work that I do desperately need to give the house a blitz. On top of that I still have work to do on the book (final proof read!) and I’m expecting a visitor later, but maybe I’ll fit in a short ride after that. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are out, so is Thursday afternoon – I have other engagements, but with a bit of luck I might fit something round those. I’m just going to have to make the effort. I’m loving my modern Raleigh road bike but I do need to get out on the classic bike soon too and once more get used to fact that I haven’t got as many gears to play with – those hills will get tougher!

Made for Two

TandemFor several years now my husband has been thinking it would be fun to buy a tandem. Last week he finally bought one on Ebay. On Wednesday we drove up into Yorkshire to collect it, a two-hour drive each way. We had to take it to pieces to fit it in the car for the return journey.

After re-assembly we needed to set it up to suit. It came with drop handlebars and my husband found that the ones on the back interfered with his peddling action so he took them off and put straight bars on. Then he discovered he couldn’t reach the brakes too well on the front so he put straights on there too. However this resulted in not being able to operate the brakes properly at all as the levers touched the bars before being sufficiently depressed, so he put the drops back again.

Meanwhile I hadn’t got a lot of leg room at the back and a trial run up the road demonstrated that my knees kept knocking the handlebars with the constant resulting bump affecting the driver. The obvious answer would be to raise the handlebars, however this was when I learned that the handlebars were attached to the front seat post and couldn’t be raised without raising the seat, which hubby didn’t want to do!

We adjusted both seats, moving the back seat further back and the front one further forward to clear the bars and then put the drop handlebars back on the back position as the straight bars interfered more than the drops when rounding corners. With the front seat further forward the original problem was resolved.

Off we go!With the bike now seemingly set up we risked a ride up to our eldest son’s house on Saturday, a 7.5 mile round trip, with a coffee break of course. This was a bit scary but great fun, with questions such as “are you peddling?” coming from up front. We developed a pattern of verbal instructions to keep us in synch. “1, 2, 3 go” to push of, “roll” to freewheel, “pedal” to resume peddling and so on.

It was our son’s birthday and we had taken his present with us in a rucksack which hubby carried on his back – not ideal, it was rather in my face! While we were there our youngest son also arrived and the boys tried out the tandem with great hilarity, especially since they are both a bit big for it.Tandem boys

The bike is constructed so that it is smaller framed at the back and obviously this is intended for the smaller of the two using it, generally speaking the female. Traditionally the front rider is called the driver and the rear rider the stoker. Since the word stoker implies the one providing the power it seems a little strange to say the least. The driver has all the controls – steering, brakes and gears, while the stoker just sits there and pedals. Believe me it takes a bit of getting used to that you can neither turn the handlebars to go round corners nor apply the brakes to control downhill speed. Also it is rather difficult to see where you are going when you can barely see over the driver’s shoulder. I suppose it is some compensation that I was allowed to give hand signals.

By the time we got home again we were beginning to feel we were getting the hang of it and foresee some fun in the future. There is a little more work to do on it and I think I need my seat a little higher. It could also do with some new tyres and these are on order. The tandem, a French made Gitane, had sat in the previous owner’s garage for many years. We think it probably dates from the early 1980’s so we should be eligible to take part with it in some of the classic bike rallies. Often for these events people dress up appropriately and I wonder what we should wear. Strangely the words of an old Music Hall song come to mind…

“Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
but you’ll look sweet upon the seat
of a bicycle made for two.”

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