When I was a teenager I used to dream about owning a bike with a basket on the front.
I fondly imagined myself, wearing a tiered flowery skirt and large straw hat, casually pedalling through country lanes bordered by hedgerows with the glint of the sea in the distance.
Like a Betjeman heroine I would glide elegantly about. Sometimes there might be a small dog in the basket – echoes of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
When I grew up, the idea of the bike and the basket was still firmly fixed, although now there was a child seat added to the vision and the idea that cycling would also help to remove some of my post-baby weight.
Which sort of explains why I found myself picking up the bike of my dreams and on the way home, finding out that to my horror that maybe this wasn’t a cunning plan.
Pedalling furiously across the North Bridge in a state of exhaustion and anxiety after a mere mile or two, I realised that the legs that I had been happily using to walk for 37 years weren’t by magic going to become cyclist’s legs.
Once home and with my toddler daughter carefully strapped into the child seat – with the aid of my ever patient husband – it soon became clear that moving away from the kerb and keeping the bike upright was beyond my power.
In a matter of minutes my dream of cycling utopia died.
The bike was pulled into the garage and – with tyres still beautifully shiny – part-exchanged when my husband needed a new cycle.
I guess I’m remembering all this because one of my favourite sporting events of the year is about to begin – and it’s starting in our own county.
In just 16 days the Tour de France will start. Stage 1 of Le Grand Départ will begin in Leeds and end in Harrogate on July 5.
In spite of my shattered cycling dreams I have always loved this race. Watching it on TV as the superb athletes power their way through the stunning scenery is almost as good as being on holiday!
We are now only a few weeks away from our own cycling challenge – the Doncaster St John’s Hospice Appeal Sportive. This will take place on Sunday, July 13, starting and finishing at St Catherine’s House, Balby.
With a choice of a 65 or 100 mile route the sportive is already attracting cyclists from the borough and beyond. Details can be found at www.stjohnssportive.co.uk. The Sportive is one of the events that make up the Get Doncaster Cycling programme for 2014 with the added bonus of supporting our Development Appeal, which has a target of £500,000.
I am completely in awe of everyone taking part. And in case you were wondering, I will be taking part – as a volunteer. Water or flapjack anyone?
* Mel Hewitt, St John’s Hospice Community Fundraiser