Back in January riding the Calderdale section of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire seemed like a good idea. Last week when I actually had to do it, it didn’t.
A 10.5 mile cycle from Halifax to Pecket Well which would take the professionals 35 minutes to complete was pretty daunting but I sorted out a bike to borrow, roped my dad in to do it with me and got practising.
A small disclaimer - before this I hadn’t been on a bike in about six years and my fitness level is very low. It was going to be a major challenge.
Before I went and collected my bike from Blazing Saddles in Hebden Bridge, who were amazing at putting me at ease with the thought of getting back on a bike for the first time in years, I thought the hardest part would be the actual cycling but it was actually dealing with cars.
The real riders will have the luxury of closed roads but I battled with cars, lorries and vans who thought it was fine to go hurtling past at 40mph with just a 30cm gap between us. If you drive, next time you see a cyclist please be more considerate. I know they can seem like an inconvenience but it’s worth being cautious for the 30 seconds it will add to your journey.
Something else I didn’t anticipate to be a challenge was going downhill. Imagine riding a rollercoaster without being strapped in and the only thing coming between you and the ground is your own balance. It was scary but the more I practised the more confident I got and it felt great flying down through the valley.
Getting out of Luddenden Foot there was a bit of an uphill so I took the opportunity to look at the scenery. Even in the miserable rain it was a picturesque setting. Canal on the left, hills out in front it was something I hadn’t really paid much attention to when I’ve been in a car.
The end of the ride was the climb from Hebden Bridge up to Pecket Well which was hard. Really hard. After a few dry sobs and a couple of stops we made it and I’ve never been so happy to see a road sign in my life.
Looking back on the ride after a cup of tea and a long bath, I really enjoyed it. It was good to get out and do something different and I surprised myself with how well I seemed to manage. But there’s no way I’d have been able to carry on for another 107 miles so I have serious respect for the cyclists taking on the Tour’s final stage on Sunday.
A big thank you to Blazing Saddles for lending me the bike to complete the ride and for talking me through the bike and making me feel comfortable with it.