Following an unexpected family visit two weeks ago I went on to Bristol to meet up with my cycle buddy John. Like me, he too had signed up for the original supported trip and when that was cancelled he put out a call to see if anyone was still interested in a cycle adventure. As many of my pals would say when I get an idea in my head that’s it and so for me the fact that someone else still wanted to go this was really positive. And that’s where it started…..
Since January John and I have been in regular contact – sharing ideas, discussing options and finding out more about each other. However, with almost 400 miles between us we had not been able to meet. A number of friends thought I was crazy (some still do I think!) for planning a year out with a guy I had never met but as John and I chatted we both agreed that our honesty, shared goals and general chit chat felt so comfortable it was like planning a journey with a old friend. Weird, but true. It just felt right. In fact, such was our confidence that we paid deposits for parts of out trip – something that originally we had said we would only do after we met.
So, that day came on Friday. John had made the journey to Bristol and we had a weekend of biking, socialising and hanging out. I acted as tour guide around the city and we finished with pizza and a pint before we went out on a 52 mile ride the following day.
The route was a favourite ride of mine heading south out of the city, over Bristol’s biggest hill (Dundry) and over to Cheddar Gorge. While there were tough hills these bring great views of Bristol, Chew Valley Lake and cycling down into Cheddar itself. It was a beautiful ride though as we were 12 miles from home the weather turned, we were in an exposed area, the sky went very dark and the hail was painful as it hit. Fortunately the airport was close and we headed in for shelter and a hot drink. This was the worst weather I had experienced on the bike this year. While the hail stopped it continued to pour with rain and we set off for home. It’s never great to get caught out in bad weather but it is part of the course and in a funny way it was good to see how we both deal with imperfect conditions…. This won’t be the only time!
I’m pleased to say that while smiles may have decreased momentarily a hot bath, curry and a beer aided recovery and the following day we were out again. It was a fantastic weekend and while it felt comfortable before we met I am now happy to describe John as a friend as well as a cycle buddy. We’re going to be just fine.