Well, I’ve not been able to post much or check in to the forum as often as I’d have liked so it’s time to update on my posts about my (faltering) journey towards full bikerdom.
A combination of appalling weather this “summer” and work and family commitments have meant that I’ve had fewer opportunities to get out on the bike so far this year, although when possible I have slipped the occasional ride in, and am still enjoying it. I’d taken this last week off work with the intention of intensive training and taking my test. However, a crisis with my father’s health and the subsequent requirements of hospital visits, appointments, support etc. meant that this couldn’t happen, and I didn’t get out on the bike at all until Thursday. However, with my father now stabilised, the last couple of days have been devoted to riding, and so a couple of brief reports follow. On both occasions, I (on Vanvan ‘Nessie’) was privileged to be accompanied by my trusted friend and riding instructor, Chris X (on Transalp ‘Brian’).
Day 1 – Loughborough – Ashbourne - Carsington Water – Matlock Bath – Loughborough (93 miles). The forecast for Thursday was mixed, but, yearning to get out on the bike, we chose to plan a day out regardless. The day dawned sunny and bright and we set off early, filled up with fuel, and headed out with the Peak District in mind as our destination. We have twice set off aiming to make it to Ashbourne, and had never yet got there (the first time taking a wrong turn, the second turning back on account of driving rain). This time, however, we got there quite swiftly (though not without quite a long and boring stretch on the A50 dual carriageway) and without mishap. However, we STILL didn’t find the particular cafe we had in mind and decided to press on to Carsington Water. This previously unknown to me reservoir and visitor attraction proved to be a lovely place to stop for tea and delicious snack in a beautiful setting and warm summer sunshine – one of the great things about learning to ride for me has been discovering so many unknown treasures on my doorstep! A couple of pictures (sadly without the bikes in them!).
After relaxing for a while (and looking at the map), we set off again, this time with Matlock Bath in mind as a destination. The hilly and twisty Peak roads were quite challenging for me, and I was quite glad to get to Matlock Bath – one of the strangest places I have ever been to! Situated about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be in England, it has all the trappings and attractions of a seaside town, and was full of people eating fish and chips and playing arcade games. Not being a weekend, there was only a modest number of bikes parked on the street, but enough still for it to feel like a biking destination. Not surprising given its stunning scenic backdrop and the wonderful twisty roads.
We had a good walk, looked in a couple of bike gear shops (but didn't find anything we wanted to buy), and again stopped for a cup of tea. However, the weather was starting to turn to rain (we should have taken more notice of those ominous clouds at Carsington Water!) and we abandoned the notion of continuing on to Buxton before heading home. Instead, we decided to opt for the most direct route back. As we hit the road, the weather set in with a vengeance. This was my first real experience of riding in driving rain for any sustained period, and I found it quite challenging. Not so much the experience of getting wet which I coped with well, as the poor visibility and awareness of the road surface being slippery.Contrary to usual reports, I found car drivers were mostly being very sensible and considerate, keeping their distance and having patience with the relative slowness of my bike. I must admit, I was relieved to get home safe and get into a nice hot bath!
To be continued with Part 2 shortly…