Before I became a father and therefore a time-crunched cyclist it was just myself and my partner and a big part of a successful relationship is to share passions and experiences. Don’t worry, the blog is not going to turn into relationship advice but suffice to say it is important to realise that a hobby like cycling takes up large chunks of your time, time that a loving partner might want to actually spend with you.
Rather than explain the joys of cycling I determined that I would show her the joys of cycling. Perhaps with hindsight, a freezing January day was not the best day to introduce someone to the joys of cycling.
We drove out to Balatter to hire a bike, knowing that there were plenty of quiet roads around there to not have to worry about traffic. Obviously we opted for flat pedals.
And the ride, although over some spectacular scenery, was miserably cold. The kind of cold that no amount of gloves can possibly keep your hands warm. It was a short ride but ultimately I think it felt long for my companion.
Six months later and the Scottish summer was in full bloom in that the temperatures were in the low teens but certainly not close to frostbite territory. We hired another bike and cycled the same route. She was sold on the joys of cycling to the point where we actually bought the bike right there and then. It was a second hand Scott with full Ultegra groupset and it was bloody better than bike I was riding at the time!
Throughout that summer we cycled as much as we could on our local loops even progressing to clipless pedals.
They say that you should never teach a family member how to drive and there is a certain amount of truth in that when it comes to cycling also. I mean she could obviously cycle in the sense that she could balance and move forward, she understood the basic mechanics but beyond that there were many skills that as a road cyclist she had to know. How to cycle in traffic, how to cycle efficiently up hills. Even ho to stand up on the pedals and cycle with one hand and it was these basic skills that I took for granted that caused the most friction.
With all that said, it was great to spend those long summer evenings outside just riding on quiet roads and chatting. And then we got home we could convince ourselves that we deserved to open that bottle of red wine. It was a different period of our lives.
Since my partner is not a native of these lands I am always keen to show off the beauty and atmosphere of the Scottish countryside and so we decided to indulge in a long weekend in Arran, drinking beer, eating good food and cycling.
With anything you do in Scotland you are at the mercy of what the weather will throw up and on the short ferry ride across to Arran the rain was biblical. It didn’t abate by the time that the ferry arrived and so by the time we walked with our bikes to the hotel we resembled a couple of drowned rats. The only thing for it was to go to the room and grab a nap (we had been at a gig the night before).
When we woke up a few short hours later it was as if someone had turned on the lights outside and the rain had been replaced by glorious sunshine. Not knowing how long it was going to last, we quickly changed into our gear and hit the road on our bikes. Arran is often referred to Scotland in miniature and basically this just means that there is no such thing as a flat road on the whole island. It is fair to say that it was a tough cycle for my partner who had never really cycled up climbs that lasted that long.