New guest blogger Matt Nash tells us how Britain's magical 'summer of cycling' inspired him to take up road cycling. Just seven weeks later, he's ready to ride the London to Brighton 54-miler taking place on Sunday.
"Like a lot of people I'd imagine, being full of the Olympic spirit inspired me to want to go and emulate my new found cycling heroes in some way. It's no secret that cycling in the UK is on the up in a very big way after the efforts of Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in the Tour de France, followed hot on its heels by the Olympics. I was blown away by going to see the men's and women's Olympic road races in Dorking and then experienced the crescendo of noise in Kingston a few days later seeing Wiggo cruise over Kingston Bridge on his Gold Medal winning time trial run. What I don't advise however, is when you're feeling full of Olympic euphoria mixing it with 11 pints of beer. You can get yourself into all sorts of situations. The particular scenario I got myself into was the London to Brighton cycle ride on the 16th September, having drunkenly applied online on the night of the men's Olympic road race. I had given myself seven weeks to prepare for a 54-mile ride, which is a reasonable ask, but there's one key ingredient you need: a bike.
In my youth, I'd had either a Raleigh or an Apollo mountain bike that I could throw around and it would be reliable enough for getting me from A to B. I was always cycling to get somewhere but this would be the first time that I'd be cycling with a specific purpose and distance in mind. I purchased a Viking Tre Valle road bike. It's the first time I purchased a road bike and by all reviews and accounts this was a solid entry level bike which would aid me on my self-introduction to road cycling.
The bike arrived boxed up and semi assembled. The front wheel, handle bars, saddle and pedals would all need attaching with the tools provided, and the tyres would need inflating. Thankfully this was all very straightforward but there were little things that I took for granted that baffled the heck out of me.
For starters I didn't realise that there were two different types of valves you could get on a tyre. A traditional Schrader valve (like you'd find on a car tyre) or a Presta valve like the one on my road wheels. There I was, the first night with my bike wondering why when pumping up my tyres with my football pump there was as much air escaping as there was going in! With all the exertion of using my sub-standard pump I blistered my thumb! Then came the conundrum of changing gears... I'd worked out that the small switches on the inside of the handlebars moved the gears down, but I had to watch a YouTube Video to learn that you push the brake levers inwards to move the gears up the chain. Crikey, times have changed since my Raleigh Mantis.
- Now, which way round does this go...?
So, having not ridden a bike since I can't remember when, I'd left myself seven weeks to train for a 54-mile ride. Fortunately I didn't need YouTube to learn how to ride it, because thankfully the old saying is still true �It's just like riding a bike... You never forget...�
No, not that one.
�Up the creek without a paddle?� Yeah, that's more like it."
Tune in next week to find out how Matt got on in the London to Brighton bike ride this weekend!
Support Matt via his JustGiving page.