Many years ago I went on a guided cycling trip in the French Alps. It was my first time cycling abroad, and I loved every minute of it.
I’m always amazed at the range of emotions I go through when I’m riding my bike. This was amply demonstrated last week when I got an opportunity to cycle on Mont Ventoux – Le Géant de Provence. At an altitude of 1909 metres this mountain towers above everything else around it.
The world of cycling is filled with dos and don’ts. I don’t mean the thick race rule book that arrives every year with my British Cycling membership, or even the Highway Code.
Even just 10 years ago cycling was a very different beast. As with all areas of life, technology has taken us to unprecedented realms that might seem helpful, but I believe there remains a little part of our soul that yearns for the romance of riding our bikes – a connection that transcends the electronic interference creeping into our everyday rides.
If you were to type a search on the internet for “quotes” you would be inundated with millions of pages all dedicated to excerpts of phrases that inspire, ridicule and among other things paraphrase the human condition. A similar search for “cycling quotes” throws up nearly 18 million results. There is obviously something about quotes that we find inspirational; social media is full of them, we print them on T-shirts and posters and even tattoo them on our bodies.
In the 1980s, Dr Robert Butler, the founder of the National Institute on Ageing, remarked: “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
Over seven days I have been lucky enough to be involved in three Sport Relief events: riding with Zoe Ball from Blackpool to Brighton; with Alex Jones and four mums for the One Show Mother of All Challenges and the Radio One DJ, Greg James, as he resumed his previously aborted Pedal to the Peaks. It all added up to a distance of 541 miles and a dizzying 26,713ft of ascent.
I was lucky enough to spend the last five weeks guiding cyclists in Gran Canaria and Tenerife. Before you get too jealous, the Canary Islands were experiencing some of their worst weather in years with high winds, torrential rain and enough snow to block roads. It got to the point where I was looking forward to coming home and getting some decent weather – I arrived in Scotland just in time for the Beast from the East to make its appearance.
Over the last nine weeks I’ve looked at various cycling related activities that if you haven’t already done so, you might want to stick on your “to-do” list for 2018. It is of course a subjective list and open to personal opinion, so feel free to ignore any or all of my suggestions. Ultimately, if you are out on your bike and doing something you love, then there should be no higher purpose in cycling.
A ride on a bicycle should really be all about the journey and not the destination, but it doesn’t hurt to have a pre-planned start and finish point to inspire a little jaunt on two-wheels.