Master Mechanic: King of the Hill | 5th Feb 2017

A week on from my ‘mixed’ start to 2017 on two wheels, another weekend rolled around and so did the second ride out from home, this week buoyed on by a positive weigh-in on the Friday and the premiere of Paragon, a film by a friend of mine Matt Owen, documenting a former Marine who set out to be the fastest amputee over 10km.

If he can be blown up, lose a leg and then run faster than most people with two legs can, I can get out of bed at 8am and ride over 20 miles in the cold. It’s February, relatively mild, and sunny; it wasn’t even that cold.

The legs warmed up thanks to an eventless climb up Upper Parliament Street and Speke was the destination, half a dozen miles south of the city, until I lapsed in concentration and headed east towards a little quarter mile hill I’d encountered last year, and (just) come out on top against. With the Sunday traffic building, putting me under a bit of pressure up the narrow leafy Yewtree
Road, now would be a chance to dismiss any doubts and rather than narrowly edge the encounter, beat it to within an inch of its life.

It was less a thrashing and more a steady stroll to a 2-0 where you feel happy despite knowing there’s much worse to come in the future. But for now, I was pleased; in my head wondering how I’d look in that polka dot jersey. I could see it now ‘Ben Shepherd, King of the Mountains suburban back streets.

Time to enjoy the descent, which I did for almost 30 yards until I remembered that my back wheel had been attached not by an expert, but by me.

Master of the gentle incline I may be, master mechanic I certainly am not! And with that thought, I squeezed the breaks and made my way back down through Woolton Village slower than I’d reached the summit in the first place.
That was good enough though, my back wheel was still where it should be, complete with a tyre attached and an inflated one at that. I’d done it, I’d had a problem and fixed it myself. What with my new found climbing ability and mechanical knowhow, there would be no stopping me.

The rest of the morning passed event free, and I totalled 26.1 miles, which included no cycle paths, pedestrian areas or ‘easy way out’ sections and I was pretty pleased when I got home to my girlfriend’s opening remark. Just getting out of bed as the clocked ticked to noon, she managed to convey immense pride and pity in one fell swoop: ‘26.1 miles? oh, a marathon distance…almost!’

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