Roy has set himself a challenge, all in the name of fun, eternal youth, and some good causes.
Now I am officially an old Yorkshire duffer (66yrs young) and in danger of being put out to pasture, I thought what better than to plan some kind of challenge. This is not something new to me as my life as always been full of sport and physical challenges, so with a spring in my replacement knees I set off to chat with my old pal and fellow adventurer Dimbers, a spritely 67 yrs young.
My idea was that we would ride the Yorkshire Mountain Bike Marathon at the Birdsall Estate in North Yorkshire on 12th June 2022 – now we know our limits and so settled on the 65km route with 1084m of ascent. We thought what a grand day out it would be, two Yorkshiremen on a Yorkshire challenge hopefully on Yorkshire bikes. (Cheese lad).
‘Two problems’ said Dimbers, ‘As we are old and crippled with arthritis we will need to go electric’. ‘No problem’, I thought ‘we can get help with that’. The second problem was a little more difficult: Dimbers was booked in for a hip replacement. I told you we were old. Having had both my knees replaced I knew my old pal would not be fit to go this year so a new
victim, sorry, companion was required. Bring on my stepson Matti, a mere 30 yrs old, so good to go.
I also started to think I had an interesting back story which may benefit the cycling world and a prostate cancer charity. I had a bit of bad luck health wise in my 50’s, I got diagnosed with prostate cancer, glad to say all clear now, then I had both knees replaced. I had simply worn them out with years of sporting activity and I have to say I had great fun on the originals, they served me well. Then bring on arthritis in both wrists and thumbs and you start to think maybe it is time to slow down. Never think that, there is always a way around a failing skeleton – in my case, for now injections and good old ibuprofen.
So back to problem number one, going electric for a bit of assistance. With joy in my heart at this prospect I headed straight to the government for help with this. Surely with all the spin about how good cycling is for your physical and mental health there would be some financial assistance? A sort of add on to the cycle to work scheme for the elderly or disadvantaged in society? The reality is the total opposite: indeed pretty much ‘here is your bus pass lad and be thankful’. This is quite at odds with other countries in Europe which made me think this is something which we need to raise awareness of here in the UK.
Disappointed but not completely surprised I started on the hunt for a shiny new eMTB. I can only say it would be less painful to have had all my teeth removed with a pair of rusty pliers and without anaesthetic. Eventually MTB Monster in Blackburn came to my rescue, without them I would have thrown in the towel.
I went for the Orbea Rise M20 and started some training runs, of course it is always best to rope in unsuspecting people to join you, sometimes a bit tricky as I live on the edge of the Pennines which is a bit hilly. There is a stretch of the Trans-Pennine Way close by with Julie’s café, which is legendary for large portions. With this in mind I bribed (sausage sandwich) my grandson to join me on my first ride.
After that it was off to Sherwood Pines for a couple of loops of the red route with my stepson, following that off to Dalby forest for a ride around the 44km red route there. The training continues.
What has my e-bike given me? Well it is like turning the clock back thirty years, I can now ride the trails I used to ride in my thirties, tired yes but not defeated… I am now out riding most days which can only be a good thing.
So what is the point of all this, beyond the fun of riding? Well it started out as two mates doing what we have always done over the years, albeit a bit restricted by age but not daunted. I then realised that I could give something back to prostate cancer research and also highlight the lack of government support in the purchase of e bikes.
We need to press this government for a fresh look at the cycle to work scheme, which currently excludes the thousands of pensioners, retired people or people with disabilities who, through ill health or simply aging limbs, need financial support to carry on cycling – by electric or non-electric means. As we get older, and perhaps stop travelling into the workplace, it’s just as important for us to protect our physical and mental health and wellbeing – and not become a forgotten generation. At the moment we are simply offered a bus pass, whilst this is welcome it does nothing to encourage us into a healthier lifestyle. Older people want to be sustainable, and our age or physical limitations doesn’t simply mean we want to drive or take a bus everywhere.
For anyone reading this, if you are in a cycling club or just riding with your pals, then write to your local MP to lobby central government to extend financial support for e-bike purchase. After all, the government provides support for all kinds of electric transport but not bikes.
My special thanks go to
- MTB Monster in Blackburn for helping with the bike purchase and putting up with me
- To Hannah at Singletrack for believing in this mission.
- To Peaty’s Ltd for also believing and providing bits of kit.
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