Nanduro – Slowing Down To Catch Up

by 30

Amanda finds out she has inherited more than just good sewing skills from her Nan. Bikes are in the blood.

This feature was produced in association Sonder

I knew my Nan well. I knew she loved to bake, paint, sew, garden. Basically anything creative and therapeutic that requires a careful hand, she was amazing at. I knew her favourite lunch was apple sandwiches. She also used to like drinking apple cider vinegar. But it turned out, I only knew a really small part of her. The part I lived through. It was only when she passed away that I started to discover her true passions, and what shaped her into the woman I grew up with.

Meet Violet Doreen Rostron, the first woman recorded to ride 100 miles in under eight hours by her cycling club, the Nelson Clarion, in 1951. This certificate turned up when my uncles were sorting her house out, so naturally they found their way to me, the cyclist of the family now. I had a brief feeling of heartache in finding out that she was a keen cyclist when it was too late to talk to her about it, but I soon realised that the timing of her dementia and my interest in bikes was suspiciously close together. It would be nice to believe that the passion was passed on to me, inherited, having skipped a generation.

Feeling empowered by the incredible achievement she made, back when bikes had less gears and the roads had significantly more cobbles, I decided to honour her by also trying to ride 100 miles in less than eight hours. But I’m a mountain biker, so I planned to do my 100 miles off-road.

The first step to completing ‘Nanduro’ was to get some endurance fitness. I started doing longer rides, riding faster on the flat sections, I even got hold of a gravel bike to get extra training in that way. The gravel riding gave me time to reflect on the challenge I’d set myself and why. It was nice to roll through the country lanes imagining that my Nan had once been along them, given that I’ve ended up moving quite close to where she lived in the ’50s. I started to realise her painting style had come from so much time spent outside of the town, lots of rolling hills and sheep. Stone built barns, farm tracks. I also discovered the benefits of less technical riding – time to enjoy fresh air, scenery and your own thoughts without the interruptions of mild peril presented by a rock garden or a slippery lattice of roots.

Around the time I was as ready as I could be for the ride, my Rostron Family WhatsApp group piped up with a date for spreading my Nan’s ashes. It had been so long since her passing that I’d forgotten she was still in a tub at my uncle Andy’s house! This gave me the perfect route idea for my ride. I could visit her ashes. Relief ran through me. I’d been given another reason to do this ride, one that I found motivating… that is, until I attended the scrambling, bushwhacker of a hike to her final resting place.

We’d set off from the car park with jumpers and jackets on. It was so cold, my mum had an apple warmer on her Pink Lady (she claimed it was to prevent bruising). It didn’t take long for us to start shedding layers, as my cousin and his girlfriend led us up a steep, rocky and slippery footpath to the top of the hill. As we reached the top, the wind hit, and we headed to a slightly less exposed side of the hill to complete our task.

Uncle Andy, the eldest of my Nan’s five children, said some nice words and handed a scoop of ashes to Rhys, as he stood the closest. Poor Rhys, we’d barely been together a year at this point and it was the first time he’d met most of my family. Feeling very self-conscious, honored and a bit confused, he carefully put all his focus on the plastic spoonful of my Nan, trying not to spill any or let the wind carry her away too soon. He launched the ashes, adjusted focus, and watched as they landed directly into my uncle’s open backpack.

On closer inspection with the use of OS Maps, I found a completely legal cycling route to the resting place. Not only legal, but far less perilous than the way we had walked up. With a new sense of inner peace that came from knowing she was finally at rest and I had somewhere to go and talk to her, I decided that my Nan wouldn’t like me to visit in a hurry, or a broken mess from the 100+ mile ride to her, so I decided to plot a really fun day out to see her.

Armed with some homemade ginger biscuits, apple sandwiches and a bike I could pedal as far as I felt like going, I set off to have a picnic with my Nan.

In order to keep my route both legal and doable, the day started on tarmac. I breezed through the lanes from Roughlee through to Barley, and eventually took on my first off-road section in the form of an easy traverse that transitioned to a really fun bridleway sweeping around the base of the hill. I was covering ground so efficiently that I had no worries about stopping frequently. I found a nice patch of grass with a beautiful view and stopped for a ginger biscuit. My apple sandwich looked a bit squashed, but I needed to save that for when I reached my Nan, since it was her favourite lunch.

Parts of the bridleway presented challenges, mostly in the form of slippery bogs or rocks that tested my confidence on the Sonder Dial XC bike I had chosen to take. I considered how I had already downsized my original challenge, so maybe this was a fair consequence, and my mood changed from relaxed to motivated. From this point, the ride changed from a gentle yomp to a very fast, playful discovery of how capable XC bikes are once you get your head into it. The bike was great for holding speed on fast sections, but didn’t hinder the responsiveness when I reached tight ruts or rocks I needed to navigate around.

Thanks to the Sonder being so light and pedal efficient, I made it to the top of the hill much faster than I’d expected, and feeling quite fresh. My original plan for the day had been to take my time and think about my Nan, but I was having so much fun, effortlessly skipping up the climbs, that the time felt irrelevant.

Sat in the spot where we spread her ashes, I expected to feel emotional, but I just felt calm. When someone has had dementia for years, you’ve already grieved the loss of the person. She had left us a long time ago, mentally, so this just felt like an opportunity to reconnect and chew the fat. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I sat and spoke aloud to her about the bike I was on, about how I planned to ride 100miles but opted for a fun day instead of a hard one, and about how truly awful I really think apple sandwiches are despite insisting on eating them with her for all those years.

I thanked her for the company, and set off down the hill, keen for a descent on what was proving to be a comedically fast bike.

Heading back in the direction I came from, with a vague idea of where to go but not really caring if I got lost, I came across a sign for the Nelson Clarion House. Obviously, I knew it was nearby, but it was pure coincidence that I found myself on the road to it. The ideal spot for one final ginger biscuit break, and to see where my Nan spent many years with her cycling club.

Sat on the benches in the grounds of the Clarion House, I considered how the day had gone. Having claimed I would do 100 off-road miles and waiting months for a suitable bike to become available, I probably should have felt disappointment in myself. But the plan to slow the pace and give myself time to think about all her achievements and all the traits I inherited seemed far more fitting. However, I didn’t do much of the backup plan either. I just rode my bike. 

As it turns out, I don’t need to go out of my way to feel close to my Nan. She’s just with me, all the time. My love of the outdoors, my bike obsession, my creativity, it’s all connected to her. So here’s to many more bike rides with her in my heart, and a better flavour sandwich in my riding pack.

Mrs Rostron’s Ginger Cookies:

  • 1/2 lb flour
  • 1/4 lb sugar
  • 3oz fat
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb or baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons ginger

Sieve dry ingredients, soften fat, mix all together. Roll into balls, bake at 150c for 15-20 minutes

This feature was produced in association Sonder

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Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 30 total)
  • Nanduro – Slowing Down To Catch Up
  • tallmart10
    Full Member

    That is a beautiful article, Amanda. Hats off to your Nan – it is an amazing journey finding out what that old person sitting in the comfy chair got up to when she was young and spirited.
    I am with you on the Apple sandwiches though ..

    spacehopper
    Full Member

    Wonderful Article!

    Nanduro.. im stealing that phrase! 🙂

    NYC101009
    Full Member

    What a great a great article! 😃

    hardtailonly
    Full Member

    Delightful!

    yoluka
    Free Member

    I’ve got a tear in my eye. Lovely words on a rainy day. Thank you.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    What a nan. She is some amazing sounding woman.

    I enjoyed that.

    kingofthetoys
    Full Member

    Lovely article Amanda

    fatbikeandcoffee
    Full Member

    Love it, great piece and a good outlook as well.

    James

    malv173
    Full Member

    That was a lovely read!

    Thank you.

    fahzure
    Full Member

    Great tribute and a fine ride! Love the Clarion House find.

    kayak23
    Full Member

    Nanduro 😊👌

    augustuswindsock
    Full Member

    Love this ❤️

    tthew
    Full Member

    Lovely article. 👏👏
    I’ve done a charity ride near Oswestry three times in the past few years. First two editions were eyeballs out, 2 hour blasts. The third time I rode with some new-ish MTBers and had the time to get my photo taken for the local paper, fix a puncture with someone struggling and met the Guinness world record holder for the largest collection of ear trumpets. That was by far my favourite ride of the three and it took twice as long to complete. I heartily embrace the concept of a slow ride and now it has a moniker – Nanduro. Excellent.

    Woo
    Full Member

    Lovely to see the photo at the door of the Nelson ILP Clarion House. The house is open for tea and coffee and sweets and crisps on Sundays.
    Join us for Clarion Sunday on 12 June 2022. It will be an excellent day out: Fellowship is Life.

    brakestoomuch
    Full Member

    That was a moving read, comforting in a way. The part about losing someone to dementia was especially poignant having seen my wife lose both her parents that way. One to bookmark for another read whenever I need to reset on a grumpy day.

    CalamityJames
    Full Member

    A (very) early contender for article of the year; well done Amanda, fantastic piece.

    tom84
    Free Member

    can we have some more info about those incredible sheep please?! great article.

    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    Yup, like those before me I came down to the comments to say what a cracking article.

    We should all take time for a Nanduro of some sorts this year.

    garethjw
    Full Member

    A beautiful peace of writing.

    dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Great article Amanda


    @tom84
    those are Valais Blacknose I think

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    What a nice article.

    Jordan
    Full Member

    Beautiful!

    fatmax
    Full Member

    Lovely…and love #nanduro 👌

    stuartsimpson
    Full Member

    nantastic – than you for sharing amanda. i find a decent cheddar transforms an apple sandwich significantly.

    gazzab1955
    Full Member

    @simmo – change the apple for apple chutney, add the Cheddar and you’ve got a proper sandwich.
    Great article Amanda. To quote Joni Mitchell “… you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone …”

    folnjir
    Full Member

    Lovely article, thanks for sharing it.

    tjaard
    Full Member

    What a great read! Thank you!

    tom84
    Free Member

    @dangeourbrain — thank you!

    tthew
    Full Member

    Article about the Clarion House in the Manchester Guardian today. Well online anyway.

    zx970
    Full Member

    What a beautiful article, thank you Amanda. Reading this has been such a wonderful start to my day.

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 30 total)

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