• Serpentine Golden Girls

A blog post from the heart

April saw a bit of a down turn for me. Years spent in the sun plays havoc with fair skin. The Basal cell cancer on my forehead was causing the doctors concern. So with the promise that I would only have 7 days off the bike I gave permission for a skin graft. THEY LIED. I got infection, felt terrible and it was a good 3 weeks before I began to get back on course. And my donor site on my clavicle still feels sore.

In rotten weather, the last weekend of April it began in earnest. I had a hard week making every effort to get the training in. I even used it as an excuse to cycle a 45 mile round trip to my nearest Asda store to save £2.75 on a Chain Reaction Click and Collect return!

In our cycle club we have the great Andy Beckett who loves touring. He’s organised lots of trips over the years. We’ve cycled from Geneva to Nice twice and toured round the north coast of Scotland. Last Bank Holiday weekend he planned 300 miles in 3 days from home. And I was determined to be in on it all.

The first day we cycled west over the South Downs taking in Old Winchester Hill and Butser Hill. One of the highest hills in Hampshire. It has amazing views across the Isle of Wight. It was a bright but icy cold and very windy day.

Day 2 was slightly less windy and we headed out north over the Marlborough Downs. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with breath taking hills and views and a trip home via Avebury. A slightly speedier ride than the day before.

Day 3 we started out west over Cranborne Chase (another AONB), then headed south down to the coast and east along to Beaulieu. Flatter terrain. After a stop for lunch we headed back home through the New Forest. For some of the fast guys it was their first day of riding 100 miles and they were averaging 17.5mph. I had 200 miles in my legs and was hard pressed to stay on their wheels and averaged 16.5mph.

Golden Girl, Hilary Webber (centre) enjoying an ice-cream break on a training ride

The strange thing is I didn’t feel elated and adrenaline drunk having completed this challenge. I just felt tired, drained and depressed. It’s difficult to unwind when you have put yourself through the mill, so to speak. I suppose it is a massive anti-climax. I compare this to the way I feel after a Kettlebells session when I feel great and sleep like a log. I have spoken to others who say they have the same experience.

Day 4 at last. I recuperated. Just walked and walked in the sunshine with dogs for company and the birds singing. They’re not my dogs. I just run/walk them for their owners for fun/charity. (

So the week wore on. Wednesday equals Midweek Miles. I call it Dementia Days as we are mostly older cyclist., Although we do have a few shift workers and part-timers in the club. It’s an easy social ride around 35 miles but it didn’t feel easy this week counting off the miles and visualising the hills home. Thursday was a hard RPM cycle in the gym and Fitness Yoga and Friday was another run with the dogs and Kettlebells. I cycle with the Tri Club simply because it is a civilised 9.30 start.

Sunday IOW had come around. Twice a year we have a club ride round the Isle of Wight. The hardy folk leave at 6.30am and cycle to the ferry. The cycle route is completely signposted with white on blue signs or, blue on white signs, depending on which way round you want to go. WARNING. This is NOT a flat ride round the coast. It is a lumpy old route with super views. There is always a lunch stop at Whitwell and an ice cream at Compton Bay. The ferry from Southampton provides a bit of interest as the big cruise liners pass by heading for exotic locations.

And here I am. Trying hard to keep up the training and stay motivated even though there are a hundred other jobs to do, and a house that needs cleaning. I did manage to start the petrol lawnmower and cut the grass which gives me a much-needed boost. And I‘ve fixed the pond UV light, so the water is clearing and I can appreciate my enormous koi carp cruising round the in the sunshine. So soothing to the soul.

Hils (Hilary) Webber


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