Stephen grew up in Conisbrough and enjoyed many adventures on the racing bike he got for Christmas in 1964. Now 65, Stephen’s daughters have helped him rekindle his passion for cycling by accompanying him on travels down the Trans Pennine Trail. Stephen writes:
“After many years of cycling I have seen more traffic on our roads. With the influx of more heavy traffic came the perils of potholes. I found this out for myself first hand one day as I was going down a steep hill road near Ollerton, Nottingham. I hit at speed a pothole that sent me spiraling like superman through the air and onto the pavement. Luckily I wasn’t hurt too much, just a few cuts and grazes, sore arms and the usual pains. My front wheel had buckled very badly and my bike came off worse as a heavy lorry caught and buckled the frame, hence my bike was now scrap. Years of travelling on public transport took me into my retirement.
My daughter’s Kaylee and Lyndsey, both keen on fitness training with regular visits to the gym, also have a love of mountain bike cycling. One day, after relating stories about my cycling past, they made comments that I should go out bike riding with them. “Come on Dad, give it a go. We will look after you.”, they said. The big problem now was that I had no bike, hadn’t ridden for years and suffer with a touch of Arthritis in the old knees. I thought that I had got out of bike riding – how wrong I was!
One day, shortly after reaching the age of 65, my daughters got me a mountain bike with 18 gears, whereas my old bike had three. “No excuses, you are going out on bike rides with us Dad.”, my daughters said. Oh dear. After years of no bike I was dreading riding this one but I was back on the saddle again, on a very different bike to the old racing one. The mountain bike tyres are much thicker and wider, made for the rough terrain.
Out on my first ride we went through Mexborough where we live, cutting through the Manor Estate and crossing over the fields via a rugged path that eventually took us to the River Dearne bridge. Following the river to Pastures Road we crossed over the bridge to join what is now called the Pennine Trail. This was once a blackened area of land scarred by years of dirt from coal slack waste tipping from local pits. It is now reclaimed and regenerated after the coal mines closed and is covered in lush green woodland, with cycling tracks and nature walking trails for the public to take advantage of. It really was a shock for me to see that this area had been transformed into an area of beauty, in a landscape that took me past where I used to work underground at Cadeby Main Colliery. The pit has gone and was replaced by the Earth Centre project that failed, now taken over by Kingswood Education and Activity Centre.
Our cycling journey took us onward to Conisbrough’s old railway viaduct. With the tracks gone, it is used as a cycling track and for walkers. From the top of the viaducts I took in the stunning views of the Don and Dearne Valley. The Swinton Lock Narrowboat ‘Swinton Spirit’ was on a journey below us, sailing down the river Don toward Sprotbrough Lock. After taking in the views we moved on down a track by the viaducts. A steep incline led us down by the river to the trail that took us on to Sprotbrough Lock, home of the Wyre Lady Narrowboat and cruisers and the famous Boat Inn, where Sir Walter Scott stayed when he wrote his book ‘Ivanhoe’. We got off our bikes for a short break and a welcome ice cream from a local ice cream seller at the side of the river.
Setting off back home silly me wanted to go a different way by the Boat Inn, up the hill road. The girls took the hill very easily using their 18 gears but I was struggling, having only ever used three gears on bikes in the past. My old legs and knees played me up a little, but I finally managed the steep hill and the road journey to High Melton Hill. My daughters were soon at the bottom but I went down the hill steadily, looking out for potholes and car doors opening, applying my breaks gently all the way down. Soon we were safely back home in Mexborough.
Over the weeks ahead before winter set in we did quite a few more cycle rides on the Pennine Trail cycle routes via Manvers waterfront and beyond, before putting the bikes away in the shed till next year. I thank both Kaylee and Lyndsey now for helping me get my confidence back in cycling and for letting me live the adventures with my love of cycling again.”
Part one of Stephen’s cycling story can be found here.