Paul’s Two-Tyred Blog Part I
After acting for many clients who’ve been involved in accidents while commuting to work on two wheels, I finally decided to take the plunge and give cycling a go myself, writes PAUL HENDERSON, a personal injury specialist at Macks Solicitors.
And what a way to start. I booked up to ride across the country, a challenging 151 miles from Walney to Wear, to raise money for Prostate Cancer charities. It was time to blow the cobwebs off the bike that had been laid up in the shed for a couple of years.
I have to say that although I already know the route to our Darlington office well, as I drive it daily, I was filled with trepidation at the thought of battling with the cars, vans and buses, not to mention juddering juggernauts, along my journey.
In the weeks leading up to my first trip I made enquiries with Stockton and Darlington councils, the local authorities that cover my route, and they helpfully provided maps, both online and by post, identifying available cycle routes. I was concerned, however, that there remained sections of my route that would involve mixing it with the big boys.
I knew extreme care would be required, not just with the actual journey, but in my preparations as well. I needed to ensure my route was carefully planned, that I had the necessary safety gear, and finally, that my bike was properly serviced.
A visit to Halfords ensured my machine was well-oiled and raring to go. And after a trip to Aldi I was kitted out with all the hi-vis clothing and protective essentials I needed.
Finally, a quick scan of my Will ensured all was up to date for the family’s needs, should the worst happen on my travels. Not a very cheery thought, but I’ve learned over the years that it’s a vital one, nonetheless!
Being conscious of the fact that cycling keeps you fit as well as saving money on commuting, I also decided to update my diary with my current weight, just to see if my new-found mode of travel helped me shed some of the excess baggage I’ve accrued since turning 40.
Here’s my diary entry for the test run and then my training diary for the charity ride…
9:30am: Decided to sort bike and have a practice run to and from work – hopefully the traffic will be quieter than a workday.
10am: After finding the bike (a Ridgeback bought in 1999) at the back of the garage looking sorry for itself, headed straight to Halfords for a service. Looks like new!
11am: Onto the scales. A strapping 15 stones and six pounds. Concerned I may blow the tyres – weight better than last year, but still could do with losing a stone.
11:30am: Examined bike route. Put map down and had second thoughts. It’s a long way (all of seven miles!) Dare I climb onto the bus carrying my bike on return journey?
2pm: Ready! Helmet, reflective gear, lights working, legs shaking. Off I go.
2pm to 3pm: Long Newton to Darlington along a variety of some fairly quiet country roads and some very busy sections in the town centre, but overall an uneventful first trip taken at a leisurely speed.
3:15pm to 4pm: The return journey was quicker, as I pushed on a little, but still not at “race pace”, more of an installation lap. However, I became more and more aware of larger vehicles as they passed, not least because of how close some got to me as they did so, even though the section of the road was wide. “Not to worry,” I thought, “I’m sure they know I’m here…” Home safe.
4:15pm: Bike checked over and hi-vis stuff off. Reflected on a successful dry run, and indeed it was dry, so I still have the rain and wind to look forward to as we move deeper into winter.
4:30pm: Decided to make my first real journey to work on November 1.
Be prepared, they said. So we’ve been training and have seen some wonderful North East countryside over the last two months. Some days have been harder than others, but even the toughest won’t compare to feeling when you get up the next morning and have to start all over again.
I’m not sure my butt-cheeks will survive but to give it a chance I have three gel seats on top of each other, padded underwear, padded cycle shorts (not a good look for me) and anti-inflammatories pills if needed.
Andy’s buddy is driving us over to Barrow-in-Furness at the crack of dawn on Friday. We’ll do it over four days, so it hopefully won’t be too challenging. We’ll end up on the opposite side of the world, well, the country anyway, to dip our front tyres in the sea in Sunderland.
A really nice client who I acted for on a cycle claim sent me four gel energy sachets and a postcard of him doing a proper bike ride in the mountains in France. Hopefully, the sachets will help get me over the line.
My main motivation is to raise some money for Prostate Cancer and any offers of sponsorship, no matter how small, are being gratefully received.
Our specialist lawyers have recovered millions of pounds on behalf of injured claimants and will guide you through your cycle claim.
Recovering the full cost of getting your bike repaired or replaced, so you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
To alleviate pain, help you return to work or get back on your bike. We will help you make the best recovery possible.