My saddle’s waiting
Come and jump on it.
-‘Pony’ by Ginuwine (admittedly taken mildly out of context)
In the wake of my initial success on the road, I decided – inspired by an unseasonably mild, sunny, and calm day, and further cajoled by my frustration that rose exponentially with every minute I had to stay behind after the bell because kids hadn’t finished their work – to try my first solo outing.
Conscious of limited daylight, I had nipped home at lunch to lay out my cycling kit, pump up my tyres, and charge my lights. And my Bluetooth speaker. As my work day ended, I entered my flat in a Bruce Almighty-esque bluster, and poured myself into the familiar lycra second skin that had been tucked away in a drawer since October. Charged, dressed, and wearing my ever stylish green specs, a harbinger of my traffic fortune, I set off grinning, catching every green light on my journey out of the city.
The outward journey was spectacular: I felt like I was flying into the countryside, noticing subtle variations in the once-familiar landscape and filling my lungs with fresh air. After about 10 miles I had the option to turn back, with guaranteed daylight to guide me home. But I also had the option to keep going, and, weary of being a caged bird, I ignored every internal warning bell telling me I should turn back, take things slowly, be cautious.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Hell no. I kept cycling.
In hindsight, the body might give you these subtle, internal warnings for a reason. The second half of my cycle was marred by overwhelming regret, and trepidation about my homeward trudge, largely due to the ominous clouds closing in, the icy rain stinging my face, and the headwind gathering momentum as mine flailed. It also become apparent that the green glasses are highly effective at cutting out glare from bright lights and the sun, but there is a reason you’re not supposed to wear them while driving at night – with dusk rolling in it was, quite frankly, downright dangerous for me to be on the road. Thankfully I know that particular stretch of road pretty well, and was able to avoid any of the hazards that seem to be the norm for a cycle lane in the city. I eventually arrived back at my front door tired, cold, wet, and relieved. And elated.
What I did not mention as a prime motivator for my independent jaunt was the fact that I was encouraged by Roz about a month ago to take on a charity place at the Ride London 100 mile cycle in July. Although I have entered the ballot for the last few years, it would seem my luck was on par with that of the London marathon. I must have entered the ballot last year, because after work one day I arrived home to the ‘commiserations’ version of the magazine, and I thought just as well. Roz, however, had fared better, and was excited to see who else she’d be riding with. As it turned out: nobody.
“You can get a charity place. I can be your guide. It’ll be fun.”
She sent me the link for the charity place, and I realised I’d only need to pay £25, and raise £500 for the MS Society. In a fit of reckless abandon – who am I kidding, that has been my general emotional state for a while now – I entered, and set up my fundraising page. Incidentally, that can be reached by clicking here.
Since my initial outing I’ve also enjoyed my first group ride with the Velodees to Stonehaven and back. Even the persistent rain and overly curt waitress at our coffee stop couldn’t drown the thrill of being back doing something I love. I’ve also braved a slightly earlier, second solo stint, which would have been perfect had it not been for the 40+ mph gusts. With spring on the horizon, I’m hoping to start clawing back at my bike fitness, and start incorporating longer rides in.
And what better way to do that than on a sunny April day with my guide cyclist, Roz? She planned a route, and I basically ignored it, opting instead to venture blindly into the outing. Our journey took us from Aberdeen to Aboyne, where we were joined by Jon Entwistle for a coffee and avocado on toast. We had initially intended to head straight back to town, but – encouraged/bullied by Jon – we took a detour through Lumphanan and Torphins before the crotch-ruining return to our start point, rounding off the day at just a shade over 70 miles.
100 miles seems within reach, and I’m ready to rise to the challenge.