Dreaming of warmer weather - Frank Burns reminisces about a weekend spent riding his tandem around Sherwood Forest

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 18:15:00

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Is the dark and dingy winter weather thwarting your time in the saddle? Experienced Cyclist and Guest Blogger Frank Burns writes about how he plans to spend this year like he does most years. On 2 wheels in the great outdoors. Frank also reminisces about a weekend spent on his tandem around Sherwood Forest.

The passing of the winter solstice is always a time of new hope, measuring the seconds of the slowly lengthening days, feeling a hint of renewed warmth in the weak wintry sun. It is no accident that all the holiday companies begin to market their offerings at this time of year. We are at our lowest ebb, feeling the full effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), struggling to motivate ourselves to get on the bike because it is too cold and wet outside.

Jenny and I  like to dream and plan for the new season and, strangely, reviewing what we did in the previous year helps to loosen up our own thinking, and be inspired to set a few firm markers for the year ahead. One thing we definitely want to do is take the tandem over to Holland during the season of spring flowering bulbs, and enjoy the spectacle wending our way gently through fields of tulips and daffodils. But you may be inspired by something we did last year.

We are both life members of the YHA, and the offer of a good deal to spend a couple of days at the Sherwood Forest Hostel was too good to ignore. We loaded the tandem (and a solo bike, just in case) into the back of the car, and off we went for three days riding the glens, exploring the territory where the famous Robin Hood hung out with his merry men. The hostel just happened to be in the same village (Edwinstowe) where, it is alleged, Robin wed his sweetheart Maid Marian.

The Youth Hostel in Edwinstowe

The stuff of legends adds so much colour to the often dreary, dull facts of life. The truth of Robin Hood's existence will continue to exercise the brains of historians and commentators for centuries to come but.......does it really matter? Just as there is no smoke without fire, so too there is no legend without some roots in verifiable facts. Whether fact or fiction, the mystery (like the Lochness monster) drives business and tourism, and makes old (but ordinary) trees, like the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, a major attraction.

The Major Oak, over 1000 years old, is now sturdily propped up on its 'zimmer frame'

We discovered miles of forest tracks and savoured hours of quiet solitude meandering through groves and along avenues of oak trees, squinting in the dappled sunlight streaming through the trees. The Major Oak,  over 1000 years old, is now sturdily propped up on its 'zimmer frame' (but still alive and well, and producing an abundance of foliage). The area still betrays the recent existence of many collieries and railway lines, but the scars of past industries have been covered over and landscaped, and now serve as attractive locations for a whole variety of country activities.

Our arrival at Southwell was just 10 minutes too late for admittance to the Minster, where we could have attended the live transmission of Evensong on BBC Radio 3. When I asked the Dean afterwards about the confusion as to whether the church was a Minster or Cathedral, he simply replied �Well, both really. It became a Cathedral (as well as a Minster) when the new diocese of Nottinghamshire was founded in 1884?. This follows the tradition of Minsters such as those of Lincoln and York.

At the end of three days of tandeming, we had covered over 100 miles, and just about met our nemesis on a 12% hill. For those who know little about tandem riding, climbing hills is a particular challenge (I am sure there is a law of physics that will explain it), but the descents are usually gloriously fast, sometimes terrifyingly so!

Frank Burns

Frank is a guest blogger for LoveCycling and regularly updates his own blog Serendipities of Life.

New Zealand - End-to-End

Frank is set to cycle End-to-End of New Zealand to raise money for Children of Syria and will be leaving 19th January 2013.

All the expenses of this 1500 mile expedition will be Franks. Every penny of your donation will go to support the Children of Syria.

You can donate in two simple ways:

  1. by clicking on Frank's Just Giving webpage
  2. or you can text 70070, quoting the following code:FJRB49, then stating the amount (eg. £20). This is a free service offered by Vodafone, so you won't be charged for the text, and the amount donated will be debited to your phone bill. All very simple!

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