An old green bike, and other preparations

Riding down from Hartside – the Lake District silhouette seen across the Eden Valley

How are the preparations going?  People ask me most days.  Then they laugh.  I don’t know why it’s so funny, but it seems better to laugh with them.  If I didn’t laugh I might hit them.

Well, Libre (she’s the cello, remember?) is being practised a lot.  And I’ve done a few gigs.  I was on local radio, talking about it.  So now half the County knows about the mad cellist and his mad plans, and I can’t back out, can I?  I’ve got a few gigs lined up, and a few more promised, and I think of new problems every day, so it’s all progress.

So I’m thinking it’s about time to introduce the other character in this enterprise.  It’s me and the cello, of course.  But it’s also a bike.

What kind of bike is it, they ask me?  I’ve learned not to say it’s one of those with a wheel at each end, and a saddle in the middle.  Actually it’s a very special bike.  It’s a Dawes Galaxy.  Dark green, like all Dawes Galaxies.  Made in approximately 1973.  Not quite as old as a penny-farthing, but most people seem to think it should be in a museum. 

I thought it might even be worth contacting Dawes to see if they’d sponsor such planned madness on such an old bike.  No, they said, people are always contacting us about their decades-old bikes.  I suppose it can’t really be good business – they want to sell new ones.

The Galaxy came out of the shed today, for the first time this year.  I’m a bit of a fair-weather cyclist, and it normally stays tucked up until well into April.  But as they keep reminding me, I need to get in training – for all those Alps, and things.  Besides, the sun was shining today, and for a moment it did feel almost like Spring.

I live right at the bottom of Hartside Pass, the big climb on the Coast-to-Coast run that takes you to the top of the Pennines.  From the summit, at 1900ft, you can see the great Lake District hills in one direction, then across the firth to Scotland, and all the cold emptiness of Northumbria if you carried on.

It’s a magnificent climb.  It’s intimidating.  But good training for the Alps, I suppose.  A teenage daughter and I used to get our bikes out late on a Saturday afternoon, and race the four miles, and thirteen hundred foot climb, to the top, seeing how many Coast to Coasters we could overtake.  It was cruel sport, because of course they’d been cycling all day, and carried luggage.  We were daisy-fresh.  Cruel, but fun.

It wasn’t exactly fun today – I was sluggish, and the temperature was only a few degrees above freezing.  But I did make it to the top.  And back again.  Does that count as the beginning of training?  I suppose it does. 

But I confess I’d rather be playing the cello.  Inside.  By the fire.

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