You may, dear reader, have perused my section on the early days of my cycling hobby. There you would have noticed that my formative cycling years featured a bike called a Hercules Jeep. Now if ever a name was appropriate, this was it. Not so much a bike as a tank, complete with whirs and clanks, no gears, unstoppable when on a descent and unstartable on an ascent. (On an aside, I am amused by the current fashion for single speed bicycles. They are the modern incarnation of the Hercules Jeep and its ilk and all the pain they brought with them.) You may also remember from that section that an early memory was of being the last one up the mountain that is the Larkfield Road in Greenock, mostly because I could not make it up while in the saddle – unlike my pals who raced away over the horizon before I’d so much a puffed my way to the first base. It has remained with me as a symbol of my failure as a pedaller – an albatross on two wheels.
So, on the first anniversary of my reborn cycling career, I thought I’d celebrate by seeing if I could lay this old ghost to rest. Under the guise of a cycling lesson for my good friend Jill, we came back from our grand tour of the Esplanade via Gourock Pier and thence to the foot of the Larkie.
And then, like a phoenix from the flames, I set off up the hill at top speed and raced without missing a breath to the top.
Well. Maybe not. But I did get up it without pushing once. The foot went down a couple of times.
But, dear reader, I made it. And, I rather suspect that my pals were at it when they said they cycled the whole way up it.