Charity Bike Ride

Cycle Challenge Poster

Last year my husband and I entered a cycle challenge event in aid of our local Katherine House Hospice on our tandem. Imagine our surprise when we saw our picture on the posters and other advertising material for this year’s challenge. Well we just had to enter again didn’t we?

As you can see from the poster it took place yesterday. Last year was a rather chilly day, at least to start with and as you can see we had to wrap up warm. This year it was a different story, it was a hot day and we were able to wear shorts and short-sleeved tops from the off.

As usual for this event there was a choice of routes, from a 8 mile family fun route, a 20 mile mini route, a 45 mile midi route up to a 65 mile maxi route. Last year we did the midi route and this is the one we opted for again. We have a different tandem this year. Those who follow my blog regularly may remember that we took our old one, a Gitane, seen in the poster, out to our daughter in Spain last autumn having bought ourselves a better one, a locally built George Longstaffe – a Rolls Royce of tandems.

One of the advantages for us on this ride is that after the first 10 miles or so it passes within a few hundred yards of our home and so we took a slight detour for our first refreshment stop. Last year this is where we divested ourselves of some of our extra clothing as it had warmed up by then. We then returned to our point of departure from the route and continued on.

Tandem SignThe event is not a race so we took our time, enjoying the countryside, especially in view of my husband’s recent angina diagnosis, we didn’t want to push it too hard. A few miles further on from our home stop we had to make a detour from the event’s original planned route due to a road closure for resurfacing. This meant going down some rather narrow lanes one of which was dreadfully riddled with potholes and liberally sprinkled with gravel – neither much fun on a tandem and we felt that the sign my husband had decided to hang on the back of the bike was somewhat justified!

At one point we missed one of the route signs and went straight on instead of turning right, despite thinking that we should have made the turn. A bit further on we caught up to a group who had also missed the sign and after a brief discussion we agreed we needed to go back to the turning. This time we did notice the route sign on the corner but it was barely visible. We found out after the event that some of the signs had gone missing altogether and some had to be replaced by the organisers.

Our next stop was at a canal-side café where we had stopped for lunch last year. This time we were rather early for lunch and it was very crowded as there was a canal-side festival going on, the fine and sunny weather making it an attractive local event, so we had a quick stop for some of the drink and snacks we had with us and used their facilities for a comfort break before continuing on. About 10 miles from the finish we stopped again at a local farm park where they make their own ice-cream; we felt we deserved a treat (and another comfort break). This stop was longer than intended as there was a very long queue for the excellent ice-cream. Thus refreshed we set off for the final leg back to the Hospice.

It was a very enjoyable ride, despite being hot and sweaty and we both caught the sun, now having red lines showing where our shorts and sleeves came to! There were a number of hills to struggle up – some were short and punchy, others more of a long drag and the last two or three I could have really done without as the heat got to us a bit, but nothing we couldn’t manage without too much difficulty. Our two or three detours, due to home visits, road-works and missing signs meant that we went the extra mile completing 46 miles rather than the 45 stated as the route length. Again we received a rather nice badge for our achievement so now all that we need to do is collect in some of the still outstanding sponsor money we have been promised and hand it in to the Hospice. Then perhaps we will do it all again next year.

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Cycling Challenge

Cycling challenge badgeWe did it! A week ago yesterday my husband and I completed our 45 mile cycling challenge in aid of our local hospice on our tandem. This is to date the longest distance I have cycled.

I have to say, I have discovered there are one or two advantages of being on the back of a tandem: 1) You don’t get so many flies in your face and 2) You can hide behind the driver when you come to a hill so you don’t see how steep it is or how far to the top!

We were well ‘rugged up’ to start with as it was a bit chilly. After about a third of the course it (and us) had warmed up and the route passed a short distance from our home so we took a diversion for a drink and the chance to strip off a bit before re-joining. A short while later we came to a local hill that has always caused me problems. I have never previously got up it and usually try to avoid it. That said, on the few occasions I have tried it I have managed to get a bit further up each time before getting off to push. Hiding behind the driver on the back of the tandem this time I/we did it  – not that it has ever caused my husband a problem. (I am also pleased to report that a few days later we tackled it again on solo bikes – and I got all the way up it!)

We did have one or two minor mishaps along the way; we broke three spokes and the dog jumped out of his basket! Okay, I’ll explain. The first broken spoke we mended at a canal-side café, where we took the opportunity to have out packed lunch followed by an ice-cream. After our experiences in Spain last autumn, when we broke seven spokes, we now carry spares. When we completed the ride we found we had also broken another two. Hubby has since checked the wheel thoroughly, thinking there must be a reason why the spokes keep on breaking on the same wheel. He had had the spoke tension checked and was told it was fine, but has now decided that they probably need to be tighter, being a tandem, so they have all been tightened up and we will see what happens next time we ride out.

Setting off on our cycle challenge

Setting off on our cycle challenge

As for the dog jumping out of his basket – well we have a small basket on the front of the tandem (see picture) in which a small soft toy dog travels. He has our front light strapped to his wrist. On the way round while going along a bumpy country lane he flew out of the basket and landed in the middle of the road – he hadn’t been wearing his seat-belt! We stopped, I went to fetch him and we fixed him more firmly in his basket with a bungey-cord as a seat-belt. A group of other cycling challenge participants caught up and stopped to ask if we were all right. “Yes, thanks.” we said, “we lost the dog!” We all laughed and one lady confided that her husband had a soft toy seal in his bicycle panier!

The last couple of miles were probably the worst, I was just about ready to stop! My knees ached, my thighs ached, my wrists ached, my shoulders ached and I didn’t want to see another hill for a long time to come! Interestingly though, when we finally stopped I was fine and the next day bore no lasting effects.

At least I can now feel confident that I will be able to complete the Pedals de Clip classic road racing bike rally in Spain in a couple of weeks time. This will be only a mere 46 km on my Motobecane road bike ‘Captain Beaky.’ Just don’t remind me about all those hills!

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

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