The ups and downs of a cycle ride…

“YOU should write a blog about this,” says my cycling companion. And since Nick is kind enough to read these jottings most days, I will and here it is.

Two men in their sixties are heading for a ride, but we get off to a shaky start as I misunderstand the pick-up arrangements. I wait in the wrong place and amuse myself by watching my legs shiver. What’s April doing being this cold?

Eventually a spot of emailing, Nick in his car, me just around the wrong corner, sorts everything out and we put the bikes on the back for the boring miles out of York. It’s still cold when we unload the bikes and those shivers start chasing each other around my body. It takes a while for the chattering to stop as we start to cycle, chatting side-by-side where we can, and sometimes earning a disgruntled toot from a passing car.

The first hill of the day is the one out of Crayke. Nick is a keen cyclist who’d done 25 miles the day before. I only occasionally venture out of the city for a longer ride, so that hill makes me nervous. I give it a go anyway and pedal away.

Somehow, I stay ahead as we mount that hill. “God, you’ve got an ordinary bike, you don’t go out cycling much and I go out all the time – and look at you,” grumbles Nick from behind.

His bike is built for distance; it’s also new and shiny. Mine is built for this-and-that forays into York and was, until an hour or so earlier, shamefully dirty. I did a quick clean before leaving home and now you can see the scratches and rusty bits even more clearly. But I love that bike, or at least until I can afford another, when money might make an unfaithful man of me.

It is good to be out cycling and chatting and catching up. We usually talk about ordinary life stuff: grown-up children (four between us), wives (the expected number between us), politics, television programmes, books and the ups and downs of life.

As we chat, or sometimes fail to thanks to the wheezing, the hills come and go. Those that go up then go down, and Nick speeds off, more confident on the descents that I am, head down and whizzing, while I follow on the old Marin hybrid, head up and fingers flexing on the brakes. I know it’s best not to bother, best to surrender to gravity and go with it, but that takes the sort of courage I don’t seem to have

At the bottom of the hills, I catch up for a bit of free-wheeling, until someone puts another hill in the way.

We cycle to the café in Kilburn, have coffee and sandwiches, then do the journey in reverse, so the friendly hills turn nasty on us and the unkind ones welcome us with a shrug and point out the view.

It’s good to be out on a bicycle ride, good to be outside doing anything, cycling, walking and even, as I surprised myself to discover twice last weekend, gardening. I like being indoors with music on, a newspaper or book to read, or some cooking or baking to do. But you can see why the outdoors is called great.

Two men in their sixties out for a cycle ride. A ride and a chat, and a grumble about the snap general election, but that talk can wait for another day. Back at the car, we put the bikes on the back and drive home to York.

“How long does it take to write your blog,” Nick asks. This one took an hour and it’s for you, although others are of course welcome to read about two sweaty ageing men if they wish.

Talking of which, one of my squash partners in five years older than me, and he has a squash partner who is five years older than him. I have decided to approach turning 60 the same way I approached all those other anniversaries: just keeping on keeping on.

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