Hello! I hope you are having a fine weekend outside enjoying the warm Autumn weather we are having at the moment. I just wanted to share with you something exciting! Over the next few weeks I have some fantastic guest bloggers writing about their adventures outside by bike, fell running, on two feet, the best wild camp spots and other adventure activities to try out in the UK.
I hope you enjoy.
Firstly, I was delighted to be asked to write this guest blog as it acknowledges my new status as a ‘cyclist’… For a fat fifty-year-old with serious asthma and a questionable approach to fitness, this is a significant badge of honour that I shall wear with pride.
A couple of things happened this year that prompted me to get on my bike. The first was a serious chest infection that put me on steroids and the sofa for almost two months. This led to a complete review of my asthma with the respiratory team at QA, a change of medication and a new lease of life.
The second was my fiftieth birthday… cue mid-life crisis. However, instead of botox and a boob job I opted for a snazzy new bike. I’ve dabbled with cycling over the last couple of years but I felt ready to move up a gear (pardon the pun).
I hate busy roads and I’m a nervous rider, so I wasn’t comfortable with a fully loaded, curly handlebarred, skinny-tyred road bike. Instead, I went for a nice compromise – the Whyte Victoria. Described as a ‘fast commuting bike’, it’s at the sexy end of the sports hybrids, with carbon forks and a seat that makes your eyes water (but I’ve actually got used to). The tyres are still skinnyish but with enough grip to keep me feeling secure on my local patchwork of country lanes that often feature a layer of tractor mud and downland gravel.
To celebrate my exciting new toy, I signed up for a Cancer Research UK challenge to cycle 300 miles over the month of September. Cycling an average of 10 miles a day means I have got to know every nook and cranny of the Meon Valley – and fallen completely in love with it. With a miles and miles of quiet country lanes to choose from, on a sunny day the Meon Valley is a cyclist’s dream. It’s hilly, but for every climb there is a glorious downward stretch with fabulous views to make the effort totally worthwhile.
One of my favourite routes is what I call ‘my easy 10-miler’, which starts in Denmead and loops around World’s End, Southwick and back via Furzley Road. It’s a pretty ride featuring a vast majority of undisturbed country lanes. I’ve done this ride many times solo, with my husband and recently with the lovely Terri Bryant and the Breeze Network ladies. It’s also a great route to take visiting friends because the climbs aren’t too painful and there are two pubs and one of the loveliest tea rooms in Hampshire en route. See Southwick Village Tea Rooms
The only daunting bit for ‘main road haters’ like me is the short stretch up from Southwick towards Portsdown Hill. I freaked out the first time I saw it, with traffic flying past at breakneck speeds and a VERY LONG hill ahead of me… but that was before I realised there was a cycle lane and I was turning left half way up, before the steep bit!! Back on to an idyllic country lane where I can hear the birds tweeting and can happily natter to my companions – hurrah!