Friday, August 24, 2018

Ramblings of a Born Again Cyclist

Hello, I’m Clyde and I live in Matlock. I’m a supporter of Peak Cycle Links and I work for Sustrans as a volunteer ‘Ranger’. As a ‘Born Again Cyclist’ returning to the saddle at the tender age of 49, I quickly found that my love of travel by this means of transport had not been diminished by more than 30 years of motorcycling and car-driving. This is easily the best way to enjoy your surroundings: in a day you cover more distance and you see more than you do walking, while the lower speeds than those of motoring enable you to stop and explore whenever and wherever you want. It’s good for you, it doesn’t wreck the planet and it costs next to nothing. And it’s just bloody good fun. 

I’ve never been a fast rider. I went youth hostelling in 1963, just after I’d done my 'O' levels, with a couple of mates from Croydon to Cornwall and back – 600 miles over 10 days – and they always had to stop to wait for me every so often. But, given the whole day, I never had a problem with the distances: since the age of 60 I’ve done over 100 miles in a day six times. I’m now 70 and since 2009 I have gone touring every year with a group of lads from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, to various areas of the British Isles, France and Holland – and I’m still the one at the back. This is never a problem and, anyway, most of my riding I do alone; I’m quite fond of my own company.

My wife Sylvie and I have a place in France and we spend several weeks of the year on the other side of the Channel. Of course I keep a bike there, so I cover quite a lot of distance cycling in France. My bikes in Matlock and in France are both hybrids: basically mountain bikes with road tyres and mudguards. Wherever possible I like to ride on traffic-free greenways or multi-user paths but unfortunately these represent a fraction of the available space for cyclists. Since retirement, nearly 11 years ago (blimey, can it really be that long?) I set myself a couple of targets: one was to cover at least 100 km a week, either in several short journeys or in one long one. So 5200 km a year – that’s not unreasonable. The other is to cover as much of the National Cycle Network while I still can. It’s currently 14000 miles and still growing – I’m not sure I can keep up with it.

In a series of articles I will be describing some of my more memorable rides in the UK and abroad. I hope to inspire and enthuse others to get on their bikes and head for the hills. And, wherever possible, to ride on designated cycle routes. I’m not expecting that these will be in any particular order and I’ll start with some of my most recent rides. 

So watch this space – and happy riding.

Six o’clock in the morning. The morning!

Wednesday 4 July 2018 6:21a.m. Why was up I so early? The short answer is that I’m mad! The previous day, I had ridden the five miles d...