A riders review

A riders review

Never To Old

I was given my first bike as a reward for passing the dreaded “eleven plus” some 65 years ago.  Cycling during the remainder of my education and throughout my career continued, but very much secondary to family and work.  When my wife passed away after retirement some years ago, interests old and new needed to be fostered: a better bike, a brighter lighter wardrobe.  “Dad, why not now find other older people to ride with?”. (family DNA means that the forty-something aged family are permanently pedalling and very supportive).

Club rides in the Chilterns keep me reasonably fit.  I completed the annual London-Surrey 100 (now London-Essex 100) ride six times, achieving my fastest time last year, supported on the road by a couple of somewhat younger friends.  When the same good friends mentioned their Cycling Retreats experiences, I had already begun to discover the joys of cycling in continental Europe: perfect road surfaces; ideal weather conditions and healthy respect from motorists.  There was immediate interest, particularly due to the expectation of warm sunny weather in Andalucia before the end of February.

With my modest annual cycling record (3,000+ miles last year), my excitement was mixed with massive anxiety about rising to the challenge of the ascents at my age.  The data for the rides is there to download, but will I cope on the mountains?  We were apparently a fast group but were all supported throughout by Mark, Zoe, or both.  The presence of the support vehicle provided added confidence, welcome coffee stops and, on one occasion, assistance over an ascent I thought might have been too much (a regretted opt-out, with hindsight).  Thanks to endless repetition of comments like, “the rides are not a race”, “you are all on holiday” and “we each do things at our own pace”, my anxiety rapidly evaporated.  Why wouldn’t it?  The conditions were perfect, the terrain was magnificent, the group was great fun to be with and the leaders really cared.

The beautiful rural boutique hotel in the valley meant each ride began with ascents, all of which were well accommodated by establishing faster and slower groups, regrouping throughout the day.  I was apparently good at the descents!  Momentum?  The valley location meant every ride ended on a speedy exhilarating downhill “high”, so to speak.  And the immediate rewards: freshly baked cakes, hot and cold drinks, some very fine dining  and bubbly by the pool on the last day.  Quite a retreat!

My week with Cycling Retreats really ticked all the boxes, delivering all that I could have expected and more.  The new Red Chilli bike which I hired from Cycling Retreats was an absolute delight to ride. The six group rides provided a comprehensive road test and I am pleased to report that both bike and rider passed with flying colours!  The week gives me confidence to think there may yet be another bike in my life.  A Red Chilli?  And I would definitely book another CR holiday.  Never too old!

Neil Dury



At the time of writing, March 2024, Neil was our oldest guest to date.