Compared with many Cycling UK members, my riding experience is relatively recent. In the mid 90s, I had bought a decent hybrid bike, with Shimano Biopace oval chainrings, fashionable at the time and still around 30 years later (2012). The story begins on holiday in France, when I spotted a notice on the campsite board, advertising a mountain bike ride. In my innocence I turned up with the hybrid. This was the first time I had seen suspension forks and strange little pedals (spds). It was a ride to remember! The following year, again in the Alps, I bought a Decathlon Rockrider and upgraded to those funny little pedals. I still have the scars to remind me of the first few rides, but I never looked back.
For the next decade, I was a mountain biker, never a very skilful one, but (with well padded knees and elbows) always willing to give it a go. During that period, I became well acquainted with the trails in the Peak District around Castleton and Edale. Did the infamous Jacob’s ladder 3 times (walking most of the way). Rode the Brecon Beacons, the Afan and Coed-y-Brenin purpose built trails, Exmoor and – my home ground until I moved to Oxford – the Chilterns. I suppose my epic ride (October 2010) was the West Highland Way, a 100 mile walking route from Glasgow to Fort William, not intended for bikes and indeed impossible in places.
I began road riding in the spring of 2006 and, despite riding for only an hour or two at weekends by way of preparation, signed up for Mountain Madness in August – riding 26 Pyrenean cols from Bordeaux to Perpignan, 16,000 metres of climbing (that’s more than 50,000 ft for imperial lovers). I learnt my lesson and now have a better understanding of the need for adequate preparation. I also now realise that road bikes of the mid-2000s were not geared with the non-athletic rider in mind and it was to be another 5 years before SRAM introduced its 11-32 road cassette (Shimano followed some years later).
I joined CTC in 2005 (mainly for the cycle camping holidays!) and have been riding with Oxford City since I moved to Kennington in 2008. My poor navigation skills are a standing joke among my riding colleagues, but various Garmin Edge gps devices have kept me reliably on track since 2009.
- 2000-2005 Mountain Bike Leadership Level 2 courses run by OTC (more recently part of Cycling UK)
- 2000-2005 mtb weekends with Trail Break
- 2006 August 26 Pyrenean cols, Mountain Madness with Wide Open Road
- 2007 August youth hostelling, Yorkshire Dales
- 2008 August Provence, CTC fixed centre holiday with Chris Ellison
- 2009 April Snowdonia, CTC mtb holiday
- 2009 June Provence, cycle camping with Pat & Mike Strauss
- 2010 April Snowdonia, CTC mtb holiday
- 2010 October West Highland Way
- 2011 April Snowdonia, CTC mtb holiday
- 2011 June Pyrenees, cycle camping with Pat & Mike Strauss
- 2011 August more Pyrenean cols, with Oxonian cyclists and friends
- 2012 May Snowdonia, CTC mtb holiday
- 2012 June Provence, cycle camping with Pat & Mike Strauss
- 2013 June Auvergne, cycle camping with Pat & Mike Strauss
- 2013 June Brecon Beacons, CTC mtb holiday
- 2013 September Long Mynd Shropshire, CTC mtb holiday
- 2014 May Snowdonia, CTC mtb holiday
- 2014 June cycling the Austrian lakes
- 2014 Christmas Majorcan mountains
- 2015 Summer cycling in the Loire valley and Brittany
- 2016 July cycling in Normandy
- 2017 Introduction to the Adelaide Hills
- 2018 September Celtic Way
- 2019 December deep into the Adelaide Hills