100 miles on a tandem with 5000 feet of climbing

Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General

100 miles on a tandem with 5000 feet of climbing, one day's tandem experience each, and both of us old enough to be grannies. People thought we were mad to enter the Lancashire Valley Loop charity cycle ride, and I suspect a few didn't think we'd finish. We'd practised – for half an hour the day before, and could stop and start without falling off.

The day was superb – sunshine with a bit of breeze, not too warm. The bike, supplied by JD Cycles as a competition prize at the CTC York Rally, was light, and had good low gears for all the hills we met on the way.

What were the worst bits? – having to walk up the last bit of hill to Cross of Greet, the saddle sores, and the mini roundabouts. If you asked Virginia, my stoker, she’d probably add the absolute terror of descending a hill very fast, with no control over the brakes or steering ( “like being on a roller coaster” )

What were the best bits? – the cake stop at Slaidburn – a beautiful setting on the village green – climbing up the hill out of Slaidburn without walking – having a woman cycle past us saying “respect!” – meeting my husband and daughter on the long gradual climb from Ribchester to Longridge – the cake stop on the village green at Inglewhite, where we discovered that we weren’t the back markers after all, and where we knew we’d finish because there were only 25 flat miles left – convincingly overtaking two men near St Michael’s – powering along the last few miles to Cockerham – and being on a tandem because there was always someone to talk to.

So, the best bits outnumbered the worst bits, and the sense of achievement as we finished, both never having cycled more than 60 miles in a day before, was tremendous.

Would we do it again? Yes! On a tandem? Maybe not!! Unless I was lucky enough to win the use of one again of course!

Kate Whitaker


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