There are some Great Rides rides that are destined to stick in my mind for a long time. For this year I have three so far. Two of these I have blogged about already: my 137 mile ride from Bedfordshire to Weston-Super-Mare in a brisk time, the other was my 150 mile Coast to Coast at the end of June.
You might be thinking “what next?”. Is he making 170 or even 200 miles in a day? No, not at all. This next Great Ride is a cycle ride with my friend Dee. It was a very easy going ride over 36 miles, ambling along at a leisurely 11mph but it wasn’t a race, far from it. This was about catching up with my good friend Dee who I haven’t seen for a little over 20 years but happily we have managed to keep in touch through the wonders of Face Time, Facebook and email.
Dee’s request, as we agreed to meet up with each other, was to have a bike ride and that’s just what we did. As Dee was visiting the UK from California I needed to organise I bike for him. Our first little outing was on the Luton Dunstable Busway cycle track as a way of Dee getting his bearings – this was done using my creaky old Dawes Galaxy with its misbehaving gears.
It was my friend Robin who kindly loaned us his Trek Modone 4.0, a carbon fibre based bicycle.
“No it’s not always known as ‘carbon fibre'” explains Dee “if you’re cool in California it is “KARbon Fibraaaay” and went onto comment the Trek is a great bike, well liked in America and in the trade this model is also known as the Mad One (picking up on the model name Madone). Naturally we needed to adjust the saddle height and get it already for Dee to use it; this was no problem and we made sure it went back exactly right so Robin would never know.
I think Dee enjoyed riding the Mad One for the day and he appreciated the finer points such as the carbon seat post (or perhaps I should be saying “KARbon seat post”) together with the upgraded wheels with (mostly) aero spokes.
The cycle ride itself
We did a clockwise route going from Dunstable to Redbourn as I wanted to show Dee the wonderful Hub Cafe as a kind of very English cafe for cyclists and the like. Compared to Californian standards it must have been very quaint and rinky-dink. We had a drink there and a slice of the lovely home-made cake before heading off again. Before we did, we got approached by another cyclist who struck up a conversation with us about cycling in California (he’d been there) and this was lovely. I stood back, letting this man chat to Dee as it was clear that’s what he was wanting to do. Once again I found myself feeling quite impressed as he said he was in his 70s and looked as fit-as-a-fiddle with his Willier bike.
Over to Ashridge
One of my friends (and he knows I can’t resist saying this!) assumed we had two cafe stops having spotted our route on Strava. There is a nice over-priced cafe at Ashridge which we resisted when we got there. Instead we bought an over-priced ticket to go up the monument there and admire the views, or at least we could have done if it wasn’t for the low cloud and haze. So with me explaining to Dee that in this direction, or that direction, you can see The Shard, the Guerkin and in the other direction you can see Oxfordshire and so on. Nevertheless it was great to show Dee these beautiful surroundings.
On heading back to Dunstable I couldn’t resist heading up Bison Hill and over the top of Dunstable Downs, always a lovely spot. This was also an opportunity to show Dee the hideous (but clever) wind catcher.
But the really important things about this ride is….
Friends keeping in touch with each other. We must all be mindful of this and how it is so easy for friendships to drift or even fade away. We are so thankful that I had this opportunity to have Dee come and stay with us and to share some of the surrounding areas which are now starting to feel a little more like home for us.
Related: The Hub, Redbourn