I've been a keen cyclist for a long time, and have had many a happy day on two wheels, heading out with little more than a picnic and the intention of 'finding some space'. For about a year now I've been wanting to take it up a notch; my old rickety bike limited me in terms of distance, as well as holding Daniel back in terms of speed!
Serious cycling needs a serious bike, and on Friday, with a little help from the other man who spoils me rotten (my Dad) I got myself a serious, and seriously awesome, hybrid bike. So, when I was asked what I wanted to do on Saturday for my birthday day out, there was no need to consider my answer: I wanted to give my bike a road test!
Since spending the weeks cooped up in an office at a desk, I've been craving some salty sea air, and the urge to find a coastal wind to bluster around my face has never been so intense. It took a little persuasion ('maybe a shorter ride would be best to start off?'), but on Saturday morning we ate our porridge while pouring over maps, trying to figure out the best way to get to the East Coast on a bike.
As I said, I wanted serious cycling, and York-Filey is a rather serious distance on a bike. I love to throw myself in at the deep end, however, so not long after the last spoon of porridge had passed our lips, we were preparing a high-energy pack-up to get us through the day! The excitement!
Sat nav (next time I'll write it on the top of my arm...):
Another thing I love about York: it's a city in the middle of the country. There are no endless suburbs like there are in Manchester or London, so not long after setting out we were already in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside: bliss! It was a hot day, for a change, and there is nothing more liberating than speeding past a jam-packed motorway (all heading to the coast, too) on a bike, the wind in your sails and everything you require for a happy day either in a bag on your back, or riding the bike beside you.
We had to cross the Yorkshire Wolds to get to the coast - not quite the Moors or the Dales in stature, but just as stunning in their own way. As the name 'Wolds' suggests, however, we were anticipating low gears and burning thighs, and so we took a break in one of the many postcard-perfect villages for a pre-Wold energy stop.
Since taking up hiking/running/cycling, the one thing I've never been able to get to grips with is the energy stops. I love a good sit-down picnic in the perfect sunny spot, and nothing horrifies me more when I'm hungry than the realization that all I have in my bag is flapjack, crisps and bananas; inevitably I'm craving an apple, cucumber sandwiches and some carrot sticks with hummus ;-)
As anticipated, the next stage of the ride was torture, arriving at the top of one arduous hill only to find another not too far ahead. Short sharp hills are fine, as are long slow ones; but the middle-sized middle-inclining hills were horrific. My legs were going like crazy, but I was aware that I was going ridiculously slowly, and it'd probably be faster just to walk!
After about five hours of cycling it got really, really hard. The hills became less intense and more sporadic, the roads became wider and longer and straighter, but for some reason it was getting a bit too difficult. Anything that wasn't downhill set my legs off in slow, burning agony, my face was burned from the headwinds, my shoulders were aching from holding my torso up for so long; I realized that cycling actually isn't as easy as it looks! It might even be as hard as running, and I wasn't too proud to admit that to Daniel (who is a keen cyclist, for the record). However, the moment that the first seascape came into view as I reached the top of a steady hill was as triumphant as crossing any finish line; we'd made it to the seaside!
I may have been too tired to paddle, I may have fallen down splat hard onto the concrete in front of many sunburned on-lookers as soon as I got off my bike at the seafront (thank goodness for cycling gloves - a worthy investment!), I may have wanted to go straight back home for a hot shower and bed - but we had fifty amazing miles behind us, and I have many weekends ahead of me with the awesome freedom that comes with cycling. I cannot wait.