I joined Ned and Charlotte in a town called Willetts after a train and a bus ride north from San Francisco. I have to point out I am Ned’s Mum, so I would say it’s exceptionally big-hearted of the two of them to welcome me on a part of their cycle adventure down through California. Being over thirty years older than them and not much more than a casual cyclist, I’m not as fast or as fit as they are. On the other hand I’m gutsy and I can cook up a wicked stew. The three of us are getting along fine together. Ned and Charlotte are the trail-blazers, which, given the weight of their panniers, fills me with awe and admiration. They seem to crest every hill not only with ease but with a certain elegance casually thrown in, and none of the puffing and panting that I adopt to get to the top. There’s an old French puffer train in the story books which at the approach of a hill, mutters “Je fais ce que je peux, je fais ce que je peux, je fais ce que je peux”, and that’s what I mutter as I slowly toil up the hills. Being the trail-blazers, Ned and Charlotte check out the best cafes in every town so there’s always a carrot in sight.
I must say I’m loving this ever-changing life on the open road. Each day is different and throws up unexpected things. Yesterday threw up Bess, a weighty, middle-aged creature, half dog half coyote with one white eye, and her endearing master, Geoff from Wigan in Lancashire. They offered me a cheaty lift in their truck up what is known as the toughest climb between Eureka and L.A. Because I’m a sensible pensioner I accepted without hesitation and didn’t mind a bit that Bess left a blanket of hairs on my black merino leggings. We waited at the top to watch Ned and Charlotte’s radiant faces appear above the crest of the hill.
The only thing I resent on this adventure I have to say, is the size of my bosom. In normal life a large bosom can be shown off to advantage with glamourous loose shirts and jewellery to enhance the cleavage. However there’s nothing at all flattering to the larger figure of the high necked, flesh hugging lycra garments recommended to cyclists. In my helmet, stiff cycling shoes and above mentioned lycra T-shirt, I feel beefy and matronly and I miss the hobo-chic style so close to my heart. Any ideas about alternative cycling wear to keep a large bosomed woman of a certain age in good spirits as she puffs and pants and shrieks and gasps up and down the hills of Highway 1 would be very welcome.