Aug 22 2012 By Joel Spencer
Joel Spencer Image 3
WRITER and novice cyclist Joel Spencer has set himself a big target – pedalling 47 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh to raise cash for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres. In the first of a new series, he gets to work on a training plan to prepare for his mission.
I'VE lost track of the number of times that someone has likened doing something to being like riding a bike – you never forget.
It’s been around 10 years since I last rode a bike and even then I never went on the roads.
But with Sir Chris Hoy as my inspiration, I agreed to take part in the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland charity bike ride.
Sadly, Sir Chris wasn’t there to hold the handlebars steady on my first ride.
Lucky for me then that I was being taken care of by Wheels Cycling Centre in Callander.
Wheels stock a wide range of bikes but their expertise pointed me to the £800 (discounted from the original price of £1000) Trek Soho DLX Carbon belt drive with internal hub gears.
Those technical specs didn’t mean much to me but what did was the extra comfort seat that George from Wheels installed.
His colleague on the day, John, measured me up for the bike and I found myself sitting slightly above where I would think was most comfortable. This higher position, he reassured me, caused less pain and made riders use the correct muscles.
A few days later, Keith from the Loch Katrine branch dropped the bike off for me in the west end of Glasgow.
As well as equipping me with a helmet, puncture repair kit and carrying bags, he was happy to give me some advice.
Wheels provide maps, guides, spares, repairs and bike maintenance but this was all a bit beyond me as I didn’t even know how to adjust the helmet.
And so I set off on my first ride. I felt very nervous and found holding the bike steady while signalling difficult.
I followed a combination of roads and cycle paths but did dismount to cross roundabouts as I didn’t feel ready for those.
I finished with an ambitious attempt at a steep hill that ended in me puffed out and pushing the bike up the hill sheepishly.
The next day I awoke to find my posterior rather sore – the potholes had taken their toll. From that point on I rose off my seat slightly when approaching uneven surfaces.
So far I’d been enjoying the rides but hadn’t quite connected with the charity aspect. But the importance of Maggie’s was brought home by a chance encounter at the bank.
In the queue, I struck up a conversation with a customer who was in to cash a cheque so she could buy a new mattress. The pain she experienced from her cancer meant that her hard mattress was unsuitable and Maggie’s had sent her the funds to buy a more comfortable one.
I may have entered inspired by Olympic fever but now I see how valuable the cause is. Next time I tackle that hill, I’ll be ready.
Joel is taking part in the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland event on September 9. For more details visit www.pedalforscotland.org
Joel was given a bike to use in the event by Wheels. For more information visit www.wheelscyclingcentre.com