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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Look Mum - No Hands

Looking at the date of my last blog the Natchez Trace seems a distant memory now and I find it hard to rationalise that I managed to cycle so far in such a short amount of time.
Arriving back in the UK I was inspired and wanted to use my American adventure as a spring board for forthcoming cycling season.
With the prospect of fine weather, a decreasing waistline and commuting to work each day -things were looking good.
My first Sunday I decided to go out with the local CTC (Cyclist touring club) with my cycle buddy Simon.
When we met at Cottingham Green I was surprised to see a group of more elderly statesmen on bikes that were as old as their beards.

Our intention was to ride about 100 miles..........easy I thought having just completed over 600 miles in nearly as many days.
It was soon apparent that my new riding companions must have been members of the British Sky team dressed up as older men with rust sprayed on their bikes.
They were No slouches and soon had my pulse moving into areas that were reserved for special moments.
I was curious at their level of fitness as all were past retirement age.
Cycling to them seemed to be the answer for the retention of post retirement health, they were cycling 2000 miles a month and chose a cycle rather than a walking stick.
With my own retirement not a million miles away I was excited at the prospect of cycling

During the ride we stopped to water a few plants and on commencing our journey I found myself last to remount my trusty steed. In order to close the gap on my fellow riders I put on a short sprint before freewheeling to give me a chance to put my gloves on.
This proved to be a bit of a struggle so as well as having both hands off my bars I also engaged my teeth to assist with the pulling process.

There are no prizes for guessing what happened next
I have looked at the guide to riding with no hands:-
Step1 Find a straight, level road.
Step 2 Gain some speed and then coast.
Step 3 Shift your body weight backward so you're resting on your pedals and seat.
Step 4 Bend your knees in toward your frame for balance.
Step 5 Take your hands off the handlebars. Practice taking them off for a split second and then replacing them.
Step 6 Sit up tall and straight once you get comfortable riding with no hands.
Step 7 Turn by gently leaning your body to the left or right.
Step 8 Try pedaling once you have become a confident no-hands rider. Shift to a medium gear and develop a smooth pedal stroke rhythm

To my surprise it does not say anything about tugging your gloves with your teeth at the same time.
The great news was that my bike was undamaged.
The not so good news was that I took all of the impact on my hip and thigh which curtailed my new found enthusiasm and rendered me inoperative for nearly three weeks.
It was my first ever major spill and frankly not being able to cycle made me miserable.
My pain killers were swilled down with red wine and accompanied by junk food as I soon became a sedentary couch potato, watching the Tour of California and Giro Each day.
One of the great things about having a twin brother is that he always seems to feel the anguish too and then come to the rescue.

This time it came in the form of an invite to Texas in August to take part in The Hotter than Hell in Witchita Falls.

I did not need anymore incentive to get back on the bike and to shed some weight.

Such is my new found dedication I even took my bike with me on a business trip to Devon.
My hip is now fine but I have a new permanent scar on my knee from the road rash which reminds me what handle bars are for.