When I signed up for this 30 day thing, I knew that this weekend was going to take a little planning. My husband, MrFish, is doing the Fred Whitton Challenge, and is taking it rather seriously. Consequently, this weekend had been earmarked for a bit of a reconnaissance. My mum’s family hails from the western reaches of Cumbria, so I knew that at Seascale there’s a rather splendid pair of BMX tracks, which the children have previously had fun on. Even better, @richardw_green had previously mentioned he had a BMX in his shed – even better, this was no ordinary BMX. This was a hi-end (25 years ago) hand-built racing machine that had actually done races. Using a bit of my mechanical skills and a few tricks learnt at Cycle Recycle in Hebden Bridge, I gave it a once over and it was ready for whatever I might be able to manage on it.
Now, I must confess that I have ridden it before today – it was too irresistable not to. I don’t care how silly I looked – it was a surprisingly practical solution to riding beside Kid 2 round town – the small size means you’re at the same speed and height as him, which is nice. So, I was quite looking forward to the track – until the day arrived to ride it.
It was epically foul – windy, cold and wet. Unlike MrFish, we were not required not cycle over Harknott, Wrynose, Kirkstone and Honister passes, however BMXing did not seem all that appealing. We sat in the car, donning as many waterproofs as possible without actually leaving the car. Then we dashed out, and sped round the track. After the first lap, the massive puddles between the lumps and bumps on the track had completely soaked anything not waterproof, and coated everything in gritty, watery mud. Nonetheless, we persevered, and actually began to have fun. Kid 1 stoically pedalled round and round the entry level track, where Kid 2 had repeated trouble with a steep bump, and eventually lay down in protest. After a couple of goes on the basic track, I thought I’d better get on to the trickier one. I thought I was doing rather well, even managing to ‘get some air’ (about 2 inches of it, front wheel only) on a couple of the lumpy bumps (this is probably not what they’re called). Importantly, I didn’t fall off, and Kid 1 did a great job in freezing wet conditions to take a few pictures which prove that I did manage to a) ride it and b) smile whilst doing so.
After an hour or so of very cold, wet play, some local youths turned up. They didn’t seem impressed with my bike. It was apparent I had my saddle waaay too high to be cool. I also didn’t have the skillz. I’d like to think they were trying to impress the older woman bmx chick, but I think they were in fact just highlighting how rubbish I actually was. I was not ‘getting air’. They however were – 4 or 5 feet of it. We watched for a few minutes, then decided maybe we’d had enough fun and that it was time for ice cream at the excellent local cafe, Mawsons. All ice cream is made by them using milk from their farm, and they make Belgian waffles. If MrFish doesn’t appear at the finish of the Fred, this is the first place I’ll look. Thanks Richard for the loan of the bike. It just needs a bit of a clean before I bring it back!