Cycling, the new running?

A year ago I bought my first bike. I always stayed away from cycling, preferring to keep my feet on the ground but I thought I would take the leap and give it a go. I bought the bike, bought the kit, bought the small kids helmet (I have a little head). I was ready!!

As this was my first attempt at adult cycling it took me a long time to get used to the brakes, gears, and getting into the right position on the road to avoid mishaps! I decided that I would jump straight in and start off using cleats (things on the bottom of your cycling shoes to clip you onto your peddles!). How hard could it be???

My first attempt was up at Lancaster University car park, well away from any moving traffic. I tentatively clipped my first foot into my peddle and promptly fell over the other side, landing heavily on my wrist and hip. OK harder than it looks I thought. I had another go, same thing happened….how on earth do people do this??  Third time I set off down a slope which gave me time to clip my feet in before the bike stopped. I was away. Until I came to stop at a junction. Unfortunately I hadn’t thought this out in advance and again, down I fell right in front of a bus full of students, onto my wrist again which by now was swollen and painful.

I decided to call it a day and took a trip to casualty to have an X Ray on my wrist. No breaks but quite a nasty sprain. So that was me off cycling for a few weeks to recover.

Then the next time it seemed to click. I gradually built up my mileage (and confidence) until I got to the golden 50 miles! I was really pleased that suddenly I was enjoying myself. I was still nervous of falling in front of a bus but now I felt I was more in control. I was loving getting out with friends and riding around bits of the countryside that I had never been in before.

This summer I enjoyed a two week cycling holiday in France. Although I fell off three times (!) I built up my mileage to 82 miles and rode up Mont Ventoux! We rode up from Malaucene. What an amazing experience that was. The views were fantastic. It was a really tiring 21 km ride up to the top but I felt so proud once I got there. To my delight there was a sweet store and a biscuit stall at the top!! Ventoux means ‘windy’ in French and it was certainly blowing strongly at the summit. We couldn’t stay at the top for long as it was very cold, especially as I had worked up a sweat riding up there! The coming down was pretty scary as we descended into Bedoin.

Riding through France was one of the best things I have done. The roads were great, fabulous scenery and the lavender and sunflower fields looked amazing. If I hadn’t stuck with cycling even though I hated it for a long time, I would never have enjoyed this experience. Being stubborn sometimes pays off!!

A couple of weeks ago I rode in my first group ride. A women only sportive. It was 100 km loop of the local area called The Breeze Challenge organised by British Cycling. It was really well organised, well signposted and refreshment stops. Brilliant day out with like minded people. It also gave me some much needed confidence of riding in a group which is quite nerve wracking when your bike handling skills are not perfect! I was just pleased I didn’t cause a pile up!

I am looking forward to more cycling adventures in the coming year. I still love running. But cycling makes a nice (sometimes painful) change!