This blank blog has been haunting me for weeks, whilst I enjoyed the challenge of redesigning our web site I really couldn't face tackling the blog! The problem is the longer you leave something the more off putting it becomes and what should have been a simple sentence or two is suddenly metaphorically speaking akin to climbing Everest in cleats!
I guess the best place to start is the beginning and it's easier to write about stuff you know.....I'd love to say that I was a natural cyclist, that my stabilizers were discarded at an early age and I've been cycling ever since, but unfortunately not! I’m the product of a rather over protective mother and as a result whilst most kids were hairing around pulling wheelies and throwing themselves off homemade ramps I was still trundling along with training wheels.
It was only during a weekend at my Aunts that it was discovered I couldn’t yet ride a bike, my relatives took it upon themselves to make sure I returned home a cyclist. They spent the entire weekend coaching me through the basics. I returned victorious, covered head to toe in cuts, grazes and bruises but I could ride. I also brought with me my stead; a battered second hand Raleigh, it was spray painted bottle green but the multitude of chips revealed it was originally red. The world was my oyster, I could spend idle summer days exploring leafy lanes coming home when dusk fell bursting with the adventures I had. My mother promptly insisted I wore my horse riding hat and set the rules, I was restricted to the pavement and to our block. The novelty of cycling the same circuit again and again soon wore off and the bike spent an increasing amount of time in the shed.
Fast forward to 2008 and a work email trying to muster together a team to cycle from London to Brighton for the British Heart foundation. Now, I had barely cycled a handful of times since I was a kid and I hadn’t owned a bike for a couple of decades but I felt unexplainably compelled to sign up. With the help of a well meaning friend (I so wish I knew Brian back then) I picked out a bike, I christened it ’the lump’ it was also know as ’space hopper’. It was supposedly built for comfort, it certainly wasn’t light weight and the cheap and dodgy full suspension meant I spent most of my energy bouncing up and down rather than travelling forward. But hey, I didn’t know any better and it was just a cheapie bike to do my sponsored ride on.
I put together my training program ramping my miles up from zero to just shy of the 54 mile target. My first training ride out resulted in me phoning a friend to rescue me after puncturing but not having a clue how to take a tyre off (tyre leavers rock!). The sponsorship pledges started rolling in, I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t bets being placed around the office on whether I would actually make it. But I kept at it, I put in the training rain or shine and even started commuting to work which was a whole lot quicker than hanging around for busses.
The day of the L2B dawned, a beautifully sunny June morning. We took our places at the starting line amongst the thousands of riders that would make the journey. The entire trip had a carnival like atmosphere with miles of smiling spectators and villages geared up to meet the needs of hoards of hungry and thirsty cyclists. The miles ticked by and I was doing well until I was met by a wall of chalk; Ditching beacon. Once again I’d
love to resort to fantasy mode where I climbed it like a Tour de France pro but alas I got off my bike and pushed the whole way up. On reaching the top we were rewarded with views of the coast laid out before us and a very well earned descent to the finish line on the promenade.
After months of training I was expecting to feel elated crossing the finish line, but I felt cheated, was that it? 54 miles had felt easy not the challenge I had expected. At that point the cycling bug started to nip, the following weekend I dragged ‘the lump’ around 60 hilly miles of the peak district. It was soon replaced by an alloy road bike, followed in time by a carbon road bike. Before long I had joined my local cycling club, started time trialling and had a number of 100 mile sportives under my belt. The following year I took my road bike to the L2B I put in such a fast time that I held the fastest female Strava time for the L2B route for five years. It was when I was at the peak of my cycling obsession that I met Brian, but I guess that’s another story!