I may have mentioned that I bought myself a new bike (or rather, I acquired one that I haven’t yet fully paid for as it’s on a credit agreement) not so long ago. I want to start doing longer bike rides – of a sort of ‘sight seeing’ variety – and my other two bikes just weren’t really quite right for the job.
Having cycled a lot when I lived in London and then Watford, I’ve done a lot less since moving away from the south-east and having the children, even though the roads up here are perfect for cycling for miles. However my new bike has definitely encouraged a new love of cycling, and I’m trying to get out more than I have done for a while. Of course the big 6-0 is looming in a few years time so I’m also trying to get fitter (I want to be doing triathlon. I found out the other day that once you’re 60 you’re in the ‘vintage’ category for triathlon. It sounds rather like fine wine, or port, or cheese, doesn’t it).
So one day instead of sorting out all the other stuff I had to do, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and see if I could still cycle up the hill from Lanercost to Banks, along to Birdoswald and back via Walton.
I’m glad to say that I cycled up the entire hill without stopping, and whilst my time was a little bit on the slow side, I had a very enjoyable ride in the September sunshine – warm enough that I took my jacket off and was cycling in a t-shirt. There are some stunning views along the way and also, for anyone who likes cycling but also regular cafe stops, there are at least four tea rooms/cafes en route – Lanercost, Birdoswald, Slack House Organic Farm and Walton Reading Room cafe.
A few days later, the weather still being lovely, I decided again that despite needing to do various things like washing, hanging washing up, mowing the lawns or hoovering the carpets, what I really needed to do was to get fitter and get outside. I am determined that I am soon going to do the entire Reiver route – ideally the 40 mile one if there is a day of decent weather – but on this particular day I decided I’d try to get up to Bailey.
As it turned out, I didn’t as I felt I was getting a bit short of time, and I turned back a bit sooner. However I headed out via Lanercost, where instead of going up towards Banks I turned towards Burtholme and then up past Walton Wood to join the road that heads from Banks towards Askerton. Just before Askerton I turned left and cut through to Kirkcambeck, and then cycled as far as the Crossings pub.
From there I turned left or right as instinct told me, along quiet country lanes mostly with trees on both sides, until I came out at Hethersgill. About there a jet flew low overhead, almost making me jump – I watched as it flew lower towards Carlisle airport – and then realised it was coming round again. In all as I cycled back from Hethersgill towards Newtown, it went round in a circle 4 times. I assume the pilot was practicing landing and taking straight off again – after the 4th time it headed east towards Newcastle.
It had turned out to be another glorious, sunny and warm, autumn day – the threatened rain had not transpired. I had gone slightly further and slightly faster than the previous time: but more importantly I had loved being out on my bike.
I got home and sent a message to friends who live just in Scotland to see if I could cycle up to see them sometime.