Day three – a question of fashion

The topic of helmets seems to be coming up a lot lately. Since Bradley Wiggins took his gold in the Olympics he has been using the media attention to promote safety in cycling and get across why everyone should be made to wear a helmet when out on their bike.

In Australia wearing a helmet is compulsory, and given the strict health and safety regulations for just about everything else, it’s surprising that it’s not in this country either.

I don’t think people should be made to wear them; not everywhere we cycle is going to be a dangerous route, or even one with other traffic around, but despite this I do have to buy one before my challenge in November, and given the routes I would like to practice on before then, it is probably better to get one soon.

My only worry at the moment is the type of helmet I’ll end up wearing. I have a child-sized head and fear my choices may come down to Barbie or Spongebob prints, but I do need to consider why I’ll be wearing one.

During the challenge in Vietnam and Cambodia I can expect temperatures in excess of 30c, so do I go for a helmet with plenty of air gaps so as not to get too hot, or a fuller shape for the additional protection from the sun all day?

Whatever I end up with, I’m sure I’ll get frustrated with before that point, but the chance to buy new cycling accessories is always one I like. Leave your thoughts and recommendations and I’ll post what I decide to go for.

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Day two – a positive observation

It’s been a good few weeks for cycling, no denying it. Just the mention of Bradley Wiggins seems to have people reaching for their bikes now, and combined with some good weather over the weekend it seemed like cycling really took off.

Hull, where I live, has always been a pretty good city for cycling statistics. Being one of the highest users of bicycles in the country amongst commuters and miles of flat land means we’re a pretty cycle-friendly city. This isn’t something I had ever particularly noticed to a high level before, but during my ride through the city and neighbouring villages on Sunday, I noticed a phenomenal amount of people out on their bikes.

They ranged from parents giving their small children a ride on the seats of their vintage town bikes to those fully kitted out in lycra and shoe straps, ready to do some miles on professional road bikes. It could partly be put down to the fact that you start noticing things more once something is on your mind, but I really don’t think I’ve ever been able to say I have seen this many people cycling in one day before.

I spent less than two hours cycling a route combing various areas, and would estimate seeing around 100 cyclists during that time. A few of them even said a friendly ‘hello’ while passing me on the country lanes.

Perhaps all once-cyclists are now finding the motivation to get back out there after the Olympics footage, and more people are trying it for the first time. Either way, it’s great to see more people enjoying it and even better to compete with people on two wheels, rather than four, on the roads.

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Day one

Distance: 19.2 miles

Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Today I received a letter telling me the names of the other participants in the cycling challenge in November. The idea is that we can all get in touch with each other and get to know people a bit before we arrive in Vietnam, and hopefully support each other in training and fundraising in the mean time.

I figured out I had better start really training for this challenge if I am going to ask others what they’re doing, and so got my bike out today for my first proper day of training.

I’ve done plenty of local rides before this but from now on I need to make sure I am cycling on a regular basis. I am going to aim for three times a week to begin with. I also had the idea of contributing £5 to my sponsorship total each time I skip a training session without genuine reason, though I am yet to decide whether this is as sensible as first thought. Hopefully I won’t need to.

The route I took today was an experimental one. I rode from the Avenues area of Hull to Cottingham, where I knew there was an access only road on the way to the bypass to Beverley. I had a feeling the road allowed walkers and cyclists to go on somewhere else however, and decided to make this my route.

I suspected the road would come out at Willerby, but was surprised to actually find myself in Skidby by the time the narrow path came out onto a main road. I don’t have a full knowledge of this area but can usually figure out the direction I need to be going in, if not which precise roads to take.

My heart dropped a bit (read: a lot) when I looked ahead and saw the size of the hill it would seem I had to tackle. I had struggled with my bike’s gears through Cottingham, being seemingly stuck in one particularly hard one (the numbers have long worn off), and was finding even slight inclines – the type cars wouldn’t notice – really difficult. Seeming like it was that way or further out though I set off, being glad that I had escaped the city and allowed traffic lights to give way to sunny countryside (tip: watch out for horses, they come out of nowhere!). The hill had hidden a road before I got to it, and opting to go left I found myself on a road I didn’t recognise.

Only about 0.75 miles along though it became clear it was heading back into Cottingham and so I turned back and found an incomplete tarmac path running parallel to the huge hill. It’s a good path that I’d recommend to cyclists as the terrain helps you up slightly and takes you out of the way of cars travelling at 60mph.

The rest of my ride consisted of choosing villages as I approached the roundabouts at the time. I cycled through Willerby, Kirk Ella and Anlaby before heading back into Hull.

I was pleased with the distance for my first ride, and though I’m not watching the length of time it takes competitively, I thought I had been out for longer than what it had been.

Overall it was a good ride, I just need to get my bike’s gears seen to before trying large hills again. There are some problems with owning a bike the same age as yourself and this seems to be the biggest. Hopefully they won’t cost much to fix or I’ll be out trying to match lycra shorts with vintage cream tyres and a wicker basket on my town bike!

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