"The rule you apply to my father’s predicted ride distances: allow for at least 20km extra"
Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week
I’m on the Isle of Skye. I type this cruising around it in the passenger’s side of my best friend’s ride, hollering at no one.
I’m on my holidays and en route to a bakery. It’s raining and I’m quite glad.
We have plans to stay inside this afternoon with cake, coffee and (this is an overshare into a lifestyle that really doesn’t scream “I’m in my 20s!”) an art project. We’re exploring the Quiraing later, but a few hours of cosy and cake are scheduled first.
Yesterday wasn’t as lazy a day. We accidentally ended up out on the bikes for five hours because, as much as I can read a map to figure out how to get somewhere, I can’t tell you how far away it is or how long it’s going to take.
I have inherited this trait from my father, though this is the first time I’ve come face-to-face with that truth.
You know that friend who, when arranging to meet, you add 20 minutes on to the agreed time because you know they’ll be late? The rule you apply to my father’s predicted ride distances is similar: one must allow for at least 20km extra. It’s something I’ve accepted now, with age and a nurtured wisdom, but I struggled with it in my youth.
Age 13 he took me on holiday to France to ride up Mont Ventoux. That element went swimmingly, if slowly (we had no shame indulging in an hour-long lunch stop at the cafe halfway up). On the same holiday a few days later we set out on a route that would be 100km.
A mammoth distance for a kid that wore pink aviators instead of cycling glasses because they looked cooler, but very doable with all the cafe stops we’d take. And doable it was; I rode the whole 100km. The only substantial stumbling block we encountered was that after 100km, we weren’t actually home yet.
I had made it to an anonymous road in Provence. I got off my bike and sat down.
The protest eventually came to an embarrassing defeat and I did make it home, but I’ve been scarred with a tic ever since: I can’t hear my dad estimate a ride distance without rolling my eyes.