Thursday, 7 June 2007
An introduction of sorts
I've been a cyclist all my life. My parents met through a cycling club. My childhood - well, maybe when I've worked through the associated traumas I'll write more about that some other time. I measured out my adolescence in gradually improving 10 mile time trial times. Through my twenties I tried and mostly failed at most sorts of racing, and organized a few races as well. I worked as a courier in London for a time. I revived my university club for a while, and managed to be British Universities 100 mile time trial champion (against fairly modest opposition) before going and racing (at a very low level) in Italy for a short while. I didn't get around to getting a driving licence.
Then in 1994 or so I got a job in Brussels as a translator, and it all started to fall apart a bit (although I was one of the city's few cycle commuters for a while). With a sedentary job and then self-employment, plus a family to make at least a vague semblance of looking after, with the added distraction of the Internet (yes, that's YOU people), I didn't get out often enough to maintain a comfortable level of fitness, and besides there was suddenly a vast amount of racing on the telly to watch, races I'd only ever known from press reports in pre-Eurosport England. That wasn't all bad, because watching Flemish TV didn't half bring on my Dutch, which accounts for a fair proportion of our business these days. But it took cycling from an active to a passive pastime.
We moved back to the UK in 2003, not least because of the better educational provision here for my younger son Daniel, who has Down's Syndrome. I joined a local club, the Sherwood CC, and rode a few local cyclo-crosses very slowly, but still without really getting away from the computer enough.
This spring, a family friend of rather limited experience decided on the spur of the moment to see if he could move up from his 8-mile commute to do the End-to-End, Lands End to John O'Groats. Despite my scepticism, foul weather and a number of misadventures, he managed it in impressively good time, leaving me, the self-identified "cyclist" who had actually ridden a total of about 40 miles all year, mostly in 600 yard chunks doing the school run, somewhat bemused. And, it has to be said, challenged. On 21 May, the fifth anniversary of my father's death, I decided to put in to the management for permission to attempt a ride that would be both even more ill-prepared, and of course a bit longer. On the other hand, self employment does allow me a bit more flexibility , not least in choosing to go when the sun is shining and there isn't a headwind blowing. At least to start with. As long as I've mended all the computers that we managed to break in the interim first, anyway. So here I am. Departure is scheduled for next Sunday or Monday.
Oh, and this is of course not all for my benefit, so I am accepting, and indeed asking for, sponsorship on behalf of the Down's Syndrome Association, via my justgiving page.