Friday, July 6, 2012

I met a traveller from an antique land..

When I retired four years ago and bought a bike I remember going on my first ever ride; a round trip of 10km which included a tea shop stop. I was cream crackered. This was an epic journey for me.
Since those days, my strength and stamina have increased a little, my original second hand, old and very heavy steel bike has been replaced by my Mercian stable, and now I am able to venture farther afield. Joining my local CTC ( Cyclists Touring Club ) has been a major encouragement.I now am a regular participant on the Thursday Ride and along with a bunch of mainly Old Age Pensioners we tour around Derbyshire with occasional invasions into the surrounding counties of Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. I christen these journeys the tea shop tours. Typical distances vary between 80-120km which for the majority of our peleton is well within their compass. For me it is pishing on my limits of endurance.
The definition of what constitutes a long distance ride is a very subjective judgement. Four years ago for me it would have been 10km, now it is more like 100km. But for others 100km is just a warm up.
I met such a traveler the other day. Paul comes from the  ancient land of Peterborough, had travelled by train to Derby and was then aiming to follow the National Cycle Network route 68 to Berwick-on-Tweed. This is a journey of around 570km and courses through some of the most picturesque, and hilly, land in England. Unfortunately Paul’s journey had not had the most auspicious of starts as he had got lost coming out of Derby Railway Station, going south instead of north and this had resulted in a 20km detour before he had got on to the right track. There is something to be said for a Garmin 800!! It was no wonder that Paul had felt the need for a cake stop at the Tara Centre in Etwall which is where we met last Saturday afternoon. Given his travails to date I offered to ride with him on the rode to Ashbourne, the next stage of his journey. He was headed for Buxton as his overnight stop and with a fully loaded bike powered by a 53/34 compact chain ring and a cassette with a maximum gear of 25 teeth, I did not envy him as he tackled the Derbyshire Peaks. Mind you, he was much younger than me.

The CTC is a friendly lot and Paul is a member of the Peterborough Branch and had aranged to join the Berwick Branch on their Sunday ride before catching the train back from Berwick to Peterborough on Sunday afternoon.  
I wonder if he made it?
He truly was a long distance traveller from an antique land.

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