Debbie confesses to being a closet rambler. Then goes on a cycle touring holiday – on road.
Once upon a time… sorry, I mean once a year, I leave the bike at home, don my walking gear and become a rambler. I have stout walking boots, horrid shorts, one of those plastic map things you hang round your neck, lots of waterproof clothing, a rucksack, sandwiches, even a flask! I am always joined by my sister Car (as regular readers of Debbie’s Diary will remember, my inspiration for Mountain Mayhem), and her friend Tracey. Last year we had another three friends join us, one of them being Ann ‘broken ankle’ Blood. We were all set for another adventure when disaster struck: Car damaged her hamstring training for the Great North Run, so no walking hol for her.
We debated if we would go without her (as if!), then i tore a muscle in my calf and walking was off for me too. Whilst treating my injury Siobahn made the mistake of mentioning that i could do gentle cycling. Now if i could do that then surely Car could? Her physio said okay. I persuaded all the girls that they would be fine: it would be as easy as, well, riding a bike!
At this point I should mention that though Ann and I cycle regularly, and Tracey commutes each day on her bike to work, Car and the other girl joining us this year, Debbie 2, had not been on a bike for over 20 years. I sorted enough bikes for us all (a big thank you to Andy Browne and Lorraine), brought some very big gel seats home from work, and shared out my 12 pairs of cycling shorts between us! I spent most of the day before we set off setting up the bikes for us all. Car, Tracey, and Debbie 2 arrived from London too late in the day to try out the bikes.
So on the morning of departure I handed each of them what I thought the most suitable bike for them to have a quick try out. I should mention we were going on a road riding holiday not mountain biking. They all loved Lorraine’s Vita, hated my Giant road bike, and were puzzled by my 29er. One hour later, after swopping all the seats, pedals, etc many times, we were off… slowly. Car and Debbie 2 did not know how to change gear, or when too, or why; brakes appeared to be an equal mystery. I was getting very worried. We made it all the way from Scalby to Wykeham before we had a coffee and cake break. It was nearly lunch time and we had done less than 10 miles!
Thankfully the coffee seemed to do the trick. We ate into the miles, Car and Debbie 2 slowly got used to the bikes and our average speed hit the giddy heights of 10 miles an hour (it was all very flat roads). Maybe we would make it to Slingsby before nightfall after all!
I began to enjoy it all. The roads were nearly deserted, the sun shone. Why, this was almost fun! After nearly 50 miles we arrived at Hovingham. I took us the wrong way over 2 miles in the wrong direction, but by this point they were just too tired to moan at me, and Hovingham is so pretty it’s worth seeing twice!
A good nights rest and plenty of food and we were ready for day two: Slingsby to Gillamoor, via Helmsley. The morning started on flat roads but to get to Gillamoor we had to climb. They muttered something about me saying there would be no big hills. I explained we were simply gaining height and ever so slowly that’s what we did. Ann and I took it in turns to ride with debbie 2. Car and Tracey both maintained a steady pace. To say they were enjoying the cycling was maybe stretching it but i think they were enjoying the challenge.
Another night of plenty of sleep and even more food and we were ready for day three: Gillamoor to Sledmere. By this point Car was wearing four pairs of shorts, chamois butter was no longer a mystery to them, and Debbie 2 had more bruises on her bum than she could count. But when i suggested a longer route than planned, with some ‘height gain’, they happily agreed. A stop on Malton for yet another cream scone (nice, but not up to the standards of Wykeham tea rooms) set us up for the biggest hill of the trip before a wonderful descent into Thixendale and a wonderful finish through some classic Wolds countryside, the rain and hail stones only adding to the adventure. At our fab B&B we were greeted by warm towels, tea, and home made cakes: heaven!
Our last day dawned bright and sunny, but saw our first puncture. It was my bike so I mended it and the girls went ahead. Ann waited until she was certain I was okay. Car and Tracey ahead missed the turning. Ann spotted them in the distance and gave chase. By this point I has set off and started chasing after them, but unknown to me I was now ahead of them! I chased for over 10 miles, finally catching up with a group of four cyclists and realizing I had lost my group.
After a few missed calls we regrouped and headed for home. We got caught up in the middle of a road race. I spotted Mark G and Hazel heading off for a race, and finally we saw the sea! Too Tall Tom rode out to meet us and after a blast into Scarborough we were home. Car jumped off her bike and said never again, but she said that about running a marathon, so you never know!