Where My Cycling Midlife Obsession Originated…

It was in 2008 that Royal Mail decided to close my place of work 😢 Bolton Mail Centre was to “be no more!” & us posties were being shipped 10 miles up the road to Middlebrook in Horwich!!

I had been cycling into Stonehill Road for work (less than a mile from home) on my old “cast iron” mountain bike for a year or so and the thoughts of cycling a whopping 10 miles each way to the Delivery Office in Horwich didn’t appeal, so I bought a second-hand “Rev & Go” scooter!! I got it de-restricted and it would get up to almost 50mph on St Peter’s Way!! After about 12 months of commuting on the scooter I had had enough of donning the leathers and riding in rough weather. I also had a couple of issues with the fuel injector and had one or two “break-downs”

So in 2010 I decided to look for a greener option of a two-wheeled commute and found a decent mountain bike, a Cannondale SL5 on eBay! The chap selling it hadn’t used it at all & a recent relationship breakdown meant the bike was surplus to requirements!! The new bike was much lighter and faster than anything I’d ridden before, it sported hydraulic disc brakes and was a great looking bike!!

I had been riding leisurely for a number of years on various mountain/touring bikes with family. I still have fond memories of my beloved Dawes Concorde road bike I had as a teenager, which got stolen from outside my uncles paper shop whilst I prepared for my paper round 😢😢 Bikes have come on “leaps and bounds” in the intervening years!! 😂

The new Royal Mail workplace, the travelling and changes to working patterns (I lost my cushy 4 day week) meant my Driving School suffered, so I decided about twelve months after the move to reduce my hours and be a part-time postman! This meant I only worked three days a week, but lost a third of my wage, so I took on another part-time newspaper delivery job for our local rag, The Bolton News! I was able to deliver the papers on my bike before work on the days I was posting, so it seemed ideal! On some days I took the papers in to work and delivered them along with the post 😂😂

This arrangement was ok for a while, but having to commit to delivering the newspapers six days a week proved a bit of a problem for our regular get-aways with caravan. So after about 18 months I quit the newspaper delivery job!

By 2012 I had developed “the bug” for cycling, subscribed to Strava in early October and I’d started to explore a bit!! I got a set of free maps from TGFM (Transport For Greater Manchester) that showed all the off-road routes available in the county! I loved extending my commutes and before long I was clocking up decent miles!

I took my beloved Cannondale on holiday with me to Scotland in 2011 and started to plan rides whenever we went away.

I was recording the rides on my phone in 2012 when I joined Strava, which did nothing for battery life of my iPhone 4s, so I looked at buying my 1st cycling GPS unit, a Garmin 200

I had been secretly wondering and dreaming about switching to a road bike for quite a while, but had long held the view that those “Lycra Clad” men and women were a bit crazy and I had a fear of being killed by some driver who was either not paying attention, or simply hated cyclist!! Being a Driving Instructor for over 10 years I knew only too well how bad some drivers were, so this was going to be a difficult move for me!!

My youngest brother, Chris who lives in Madrid has long been our family cycling hero. He started cycling seriously when at University in Edinburgh. Like me circumstances meant he fell into the sport. He became a cycle courier and with likeminded mates got into racing. He went on to cycle professionally in Belgium, Italy and Spain.

That was a long time ago, but his love of the sport lives on. He still rides at a very high level.

My old workmate and close friend, Steve Ludford is also someone who gave me inspiration to expand my cycling horizons…

Steve and his wonderful family were close friends when they lived up North. They moved down South to Hampshire with his job at Colgate’s when Emily & Alice were entering teenage years! Steve got into cycling with a local club, and he quickly progressed into time trialling. His achievements on a bike impressed me a great deal!!

I could see how healthy his new hobby made him look, so a few messages between us for me to pick Steve’s brains helped me get myself onto my first road bike!!!

So, on Saturday 10th November 2012 I drove over to Oldham to pick-up my first proper road bike of my adult life!

The Trek Alpha came with a speedometer, foot straps on the pedals and was a beauty!!

On the Sunday I did my first ride on it – I was in seventh heaven, I loved it!!!

I now began to look for proper cycling clothing, and by Christmas I had clip-in pedals on my Trek and was sporting the dreaded Lycra!!!

This was the start of my adventures on a bike….

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