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killerOMG! Today was absolutely murder! They took us along the dual carriageway now that I can get up that slight incline. Remember uphill slog back in January. Well, I thought that was soooo hard but it was nothing compared with today.

I don’t know why they wanted to torture us but torture us they did!  Pedalling became very difficult. I wanted to stop but the instructor refused.  Slower and slower went the pedals.  The incline was so looooooong! But I didn’t stop.  I tried to focus and concentrate on my breathing.  It doesn’t matter how slow. Don’t stop! he encouraged.  So slowly I pedalled desperate not to stop and give up.  Exhaling and inhaling.  That worked and reallyslowly I got up the first hill.  That was a killer! 

But worse was yet to come as we turned right. Don’t look ahead  he warned.  Don’t think about it. Just pedal and breath! He knew there was another killer hill just waiting around the corner.  This is the photo of that dreaded hill. It’s all downhill from the top.  Yeah right!  I got to get to the top first! In agony I tried my best but this steep hill was soooo long and it just kept going up and up and up.  Three quarters of the way up this hill, I had to stop.  So I did.  My instructor wasn’t very pleased.  I don’t think he really understands how difficult it is. I couldn’t take any more. After a rest and a multiude of excuses, we continued where it eventually became a flat cycle path all the way to Greenwich Park. That was about 4 miles but with those two killer hills it felt like 8!

We rested at the cafe, where I asked the other learner how she got up the hills. Her reply was to take the pain.  She feels it in her stomach but I feel it in my thighs.

Back down a steep descent in Greenwich Park but then along the main A206 dual carriageway back to the base.  Nearly another 5 miles of slopes and slight inclines.  My thighs became very very tired but I didn’t stop. What a killer day! But it’s not finished yet.

new-bike-girlTraining had finished. Resting in the cafe, suddenly a swoop of about 11 cyclists descended upon the cafe. We got talking and they were a club on a easy ride day out.  They invited us to join the rest of the trip. It was soo exciting, that I forgot how tired I was. We rode together and then crossed the ferry to North Woolwich.

 Here is someone I met whilst training.  I took this photo whilst on the ferry. She has just brought her fantastic new bike and is eager to learn to ride as I am.  Another Saracen and another reason to celebrateseparate-from-the-road.

 

We reached the Flood Barrier along paths like this. Separate from the pavement and road, it was great!  Just like in the Netherlands!

 

thames-flood-barrier

 

The barriers were an awesome sight. It was fantastic.  The other riders continued their journey but I was too tired to go any further, especially as I still had to ride back home. The two of us cycled back to the base and then I rode all the way home.  

 

Let me tell you. I wasn’t just  knackered,   I was absolutely exhaused! ! I collapsed on the bed whilst consuming a tub of Tiramisu to take away the agony. Five hours later, I felt a bit better and couldn’t believe that I wanted to do it all again!!  What a day!

Never Mind That Bruise!

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a-long-ride-for-a-pie1I couldn’t put this book down during the Christmas cycling break.  I thought I’d read about it, instead of doing it. 

 

It is fascinating account of Tim Mulliner’s  cycling adventures through 22 countries.  A New Zealander, homesick for a typical New Zealand pie.  He’s so fed up with living in London, he decides to travel all the way to New Zealand by bike to eat a mouthwatering typical Kiwi pie!

 24,115 kilometres, 428 days, 22 countries, 1 objective to get a typical New Zealand pie!

He sets off on his 27-speed bike to head across western Europe, eastern Europe, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Tibet, China, South-East Asia and Australia, and finally home to New Zealand.

I especially loved his accounts of  hallucinations and raging sandstorms in the  Taklamakan Desert, his physical hardships, visa tantrums, bike problems, language and cultural problems, the diverse cultures he meets along the way, the loneliness and depression.

If  travelling independently for months on end and cycling are your things then this book is for you.  But there’s not really a lot about cycling. Its more about his adventure travel. However there is one question about his experiences. I wonder if his experience would be same if he was a woman.

What else can I do during this break? I miss cycling.

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dorset

Visiting my long time friend, along the Jurassic Coast, I was very excited at the thought of riding together. I hired a bike for the day. Knowing how experienced she was I knew I was in good hands. I’ve always admired her confidence and guts in cycling all around London, up the West End and everywhere in God-awful traffic, like it was a piece of cake.  But she comes from a cycling family and has been riding since a child. I’ve never seen my friend with a helmet or lycra cycling gear.  She always wears her own clothes.  Although it was absolutely freezing, her motto is ‘there’s no bad weather only bad clothing’.

I was alright until I actually had to get on the bike outside the shop. My friend had never seen me cycle before. Yes, I’ve had a few lessons, I assured her.  I got on the bike but no, she told me to swing my leg like I was getting on a horse! Mmmmm. OK….. As soon as I started  to pedal we had to turn right into a busy country lane. 

I was sooo nervous inside that all my adrenalin turned to resignation. I had to ride this bike no matter what.  So I pretended to be confident, pretended that I had been riding for ever and followed her down the country lane as cars whizzed pass. At least now I can cycle in a straight line!

Turned into a country lane, cycling through a lovely park, gained momentum up a slope, but I had to dismount because I was damn exhausted! My thighs couldn’t take any more!!  From the top of the slope, my friend encouraged me to get on the bike.  No, no. You don’t understand. I pleaded with her.  I pretended to fix my boots, got a few minutes reprieve and continued.

trad-cottagesWe cycled around mainly on flat ground as my friend showed me the sights of South West England. We  went to Chesil Beach, West Bay, Lyme Regis and the Hardy Monument and visited a musuem where I was attracted to and brought a strange photo of a Victorian woman on an odd looking huge tricycle.

The road to Lyme Regis Beach was long.  Again my thighs were getting tired.  Can I stop? Can I stop? I shouted out to her, as she was riding behind me.  No. No. Just keep going and I had to. There was no pavement anyway to stop along these country lanes. Suddenly the road turned into three lanes approaching a very large roundabout.  She got in front of me and shouted, just follow me.  OMG!  She was so fast. I cycled behind her all the way round the 3rd exit off the roundabout, swinging my arms out to signal and trying to catch up with her.  She was fast! I was pumped up and just got on with it because I had no choice.  I remember my instructors comments.  Be assertive. Don’t let cars bully you.  Be seen, be aware. Keep looking behind. 

We didn’t stop too long at the beach because it was absolutely freezing but rode up and down the promenade, brought lunch and climbed up a cliff. Or rather, she climbed up the cliff , I stopped half  way to admire the view and give my legs a rest. I didn’t realise how unfit I am.

west-bayThe museum was on a busy high street.  My friend rode in front, directing the way.  She was so fast, she left me behind and I was alone on a high street with loads of cars and parked vehicles.  Still pretending like I knew what I was doing, I remembered my training and cycled a metre from the parked cars, regardless of  the cars behind me, did not swerve into the gaps, looked behind me regularly and tried to catch her up whilst silently cursing her under my breath but simultaneously enjoying the thrill and danger of it all.  And yes.  My confidence grew. After all that I felt great!   If only Jake could see me now! 

Yes, you can ride, my friend told me.  All you need to do is change gears more often.  And thats a compliment.  Thanks for my wonderful short holiday break. Now I can tackle my next lesson with more confidence, I hope.

Turn Left Turn Right

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