Back On The Bike At Last!

Well, I finally got back on my bike today after 10 weeks off due to distraction, bad weather, laziness, family illness and bereavement.

I had arranged a ride from Hebden Bridge to the Country Kitchen cafe in Waddington, taking mainly valley roads rather than my beloved local hills because there is still ice in places on the tops and I didn’t want to take any chances. Also, there was the little matter of me being very overweight and unfit …

This was another CycleChat forum ride. I met established CC members Shaun (bromptonfb), Dave (potsy), Kevin (tubbycyclist) and new member Carl (Hicky) at the usual spot – Market Place Car Park, Hebden Bridge at 10:00. We met Dan (dan_bo) on the road near Todmorden, and then headed off together up the A646 towards Burnley.

Conditions were overcast, dry and cold.

Soon my legs were telling me that avoiding the big hills today had been the right decision. The smaller hills and draggy climbs felt like hard work. I even got breathless trying to go fast downhill! It’s shocking how quickly fitness can be lost. Still, I know from experience that I can gain fitness pretty quickly too if I put the work in. Today’s route was an undulating 57 miles out-and-back, just the kind of thing to shock my body into starting to build my leg muscles up again.

We took the scenic route including Old Roman Road from Padiham to Spring Wood, above Whalley, picking up Paul (PaulB) and his son Liam on the way. Paul was on his new Pinarello – a very nice looking bike, despite the attempts of a local to drive over him yesterday while he had it out on its maiden ride!

We called in at Spring Wood picnic centre, where dan_bo said his goodbyes. The rest of us rode on to Waddington where Paul and Liam had to leave us to get back in time for a family birthday celebration.

The 5 of us remaining had a good lunch in the cafe and set off back in good humour an hour so later.

Shaun’s fitness has improved immensely since I first met him about 18 months ago. Commuting 12,000 miles on his bike in that time probably had something to do with that! Carl commutes by bike in Rochdale. He’s a fit lad too. Regular short rides are definitely the best way to build a good base level of fitness, and are what I’ve been lacking this past year or so.

Dave, Kevin and I were lagging behind every time the road went uphill. Dave does commute by bike (I’m not sure how regularly) but he isn’t really used to hills, and like me, had put weight on over the winter.

Some feral kids in Padiham were shouting insults at us, and trying to throw sticks into our wheels. One of them threw something which hit me on my ankle, I didn’t see what it was. It’s depressing to see kids of 8 or 9 like that, and then wonder what the future holds for them and the people who cross their paths. I don’t think I’d like to spill a drink belonging to one of them when he has muscles and testosterone coursing through his veins in 10 years time …

In Todmordon, an idiot driver attempted to assault Shaun with his car! He deliberately swerved over to the left when overtaking and made light contact with Shaun’s right knee. How do we know he meant to do it? Because he was sticking two fingers up at us at the time, that’s how! Fortunately, he didn’t obey Shaun’s bellowed request to pull over to discuss his actions – I think it would have got pretty heated!

I’m feeling tired and sore now. That route is relatively easy by the standards of some of mine, but I feel like I’ve done a longer, harder ride than I actually have. Still, a 57 mile undulating ride on a cold January day after 10 weeks off the bike, I can’t complain at that!

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