It’s the Tour de Broads where we’ve none of the gear and not much idea
PUBLISHED: 08:03 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:50 24 August 2018
My seven-year-old is sure she can cycle 25 miles, but will she stop talking and actually do it?
For cyclists in Copenhagen, the average cycling speed is 15.5 km/h (9.6 mph). On a racing bicycle, a reasonably fit rider can ride at 40 km/h (25 mph) on flat surface.
So says Internet know it all Wikipedia when I ask what is the average cycle speed. I’ve no idea why, in these Big Brother days when computers seem to know where you are at all times, it didn’t realise I wanted Norfolk not Copenhagen information.
I was trying to plan how long it would take Thalia and I to cycle our furthest ever, the 25-mile leg of the Tour de Broads (TdeB), so we could meet her big sisters in the city afterwards, medals (hopefully) around our necks.
Seven-year-old Thalia loves pedalling and after leaving big sister Keola and I trailing in the Diss 10 mile Cyclathon earlier this year, she was adamant 25 miles would be easy.
But when I’m waiting in the cross wind somewhere near Caistor St Edmund while she picks yet another dandelion leaf for the two toy rabbits in her bicycle basket, I’m not convinced we’re going to finish the rest of the 20 or so miles.
She has two speeds; so fast I can barely keep up, and slow enough to kick every long stalk on the verge. These are sandwiched with extended periods of stopping, often to take a closer look at something – a nice garden, a thistle, a white stone; or to pick something - I’d forgotton it was blackberry season as well as dandelion time - or just to repeat, at length, what she was saying before I’d interrupted her with a ‘wait for me/stop at the end/keep in/keep in some more/get off the verge/please don’t run into me/keep going we’re doing great’ instruction.
Her non-stop chat ranges from how we could wait for an uphill to turn into a downhill to suggesting that drivers slow down because they wanted to see her rabbits, to insisting the live band we stopped to watch, and the pigs, and the bunting, and the sheep, were there because they knew we’d need nice views on TdeB day.
Drivers passing us were wonderfully patient, but best of all were the other cyclists. We were very definitely at the back of the 25-mile riders, but the 75-mile route riders joined us at Loddon; nearly all of them said ‘well done, you can do this’ and made her feel really proud as they passed.
Thalia pointed out that their special tops, squashy pants and riding in a group helped them pedal faster, but every word of praise helped her put in extra effort and once we even passed a particularly interesting gate without having to stop because a group of four bikers rode with us for a bit.
I think that without that encouragement we’d still be walking up a hill somewhere – and maybe I did suggest around the 20 mile mark that if we didn’t get a move on they’d shut the finish line and we wouldn’t get a medal.
We finished in just under six hours. Thalia loved the applause as she arrived for her well earned medal and her rabbits even got a medal from the Tour de Broads team too.
As we recover with tea and cake at the finish, and in that small Norfolk world way bumping into number one’s friend Sacha working in the Whitlingham Cafe, I’m ignoring a bit of a sore bottom, and we’re talking about doing another 25 mile TdeB in the spring. Then a young family who had completed the 50-mile leg are announced at the finish line.
We stand up to applaud and I know what’s coming.
“I could do 50 miles,” says Thalia.