My life on 2 wheels
I don’t think of myself as having been a keen cyclist from a young age, but I guess when I think back, my old racing bike was one of the first things I remember buying for myself. I’d saved up my Saturday job money and went into town, bought my bike and was really proud that I’d paid for it. But then I still don’t think of myself as having been a particularly regular cyclist, but did do the London to Brighton twice in my teens so I can’t have been too shabby.
Things really took off around 16 years ago when I was looking for my next holiday, and saw the ‘Richard Hobson Triathlon training camp’ at Club La Santa in Lanzarote advertised. “That sounds fun” I thought (can’t remember if I’d been drinking). So I signed up and proceeded to do a ‘bit’ of training at the gym near my work. I ran on the treadmill, swam in the pool, and watched Coronation Street on the TVs whilst working out on the exercise bike. Ideal training for an open water swim, then running and cycling in the heat, wind and hills of Lanzarote – NOT!!!!
I visited the local triathlon shop and said I was doing a triathlon, what did I need? Naturally they fleeced me – selling me just about everything in the shop.
So I was ready! Off to Lanzarote. Day 1 was terrifying – I didn’t know anyone, went and picked up the hire bike I’d reserved and went to meet Richard and the team. I introduced myself, including mentioning the fact that I’d never even seen a triathlon and didn’t have a clue about transitions, rules, or pretty much anything. Once they’d picked themselves back up off the floor from laughing, they suggested I go out for a quick spin to get used to the bike. I came back about 5 minutes later to ask them how you change gear. It’s at that stage that I think they lost the will to live.
I’m pleased to say that at the end of the week I’d completed my first ever Olympic distance triathlon and bagged myself a man (who is now my husband). I was second last in the race, but at the end of camp awards ceremony I was given a wetsuit and a trophy for my bravery/stupidity/naivety in having completed the camp and the race.
Since then I’ve gone on to dabble in the occasional triathlon, duathlon, sportive, and touring holiday (including Land’s End to John O’Groats – my best holiday ever). I’ve also gone on to discover MUD!
On a holiday in Canada, we went and tried a bit of mountain biking. I was scared, I fell, but I realised that you don’t die when you fall (well hopefully not anyway), and it could be good fun. When we moved to the Scottish Borders 10 years ago, that really cemented the joys of mountain biking – with having Glentress, natural trails and some great events on our doorstep.
I did a bit of mountain biking with hubby, and then found out about Swift Trails, a women’s only mountain biking group who took my skills to the next level. Lucy who runs the group encourages women of all standards to get out there and give mountain biking a try, and has the patience and skills to teach us some of the finer points (although I don’t think I’ll ever master track stands). Local events such as Tweedlove, the Bowhill Duathlon, and the MTB Marathon then challenged me a bit further.
I’ll never be the greatest of cyclists. For starters I enjoy too many different things – I run, I road cycle, I mountain bike and I quite often sit on my backside and do nothing. I also enjoy food too much which will always slow me down (although I do blame the weight of my bike – even though I know I could do with losing a stone or two). And that love of food has often spoilt my experiences of buying cycle clothing. I still remember trying on the really attractive cycle kit on the Stephen Roche cycling holiday – when I couldn’t even get into the Extra large option. The lady in the shop was very kind and said that they were made in Italy and the sizing was tiny, but it was still a horribly depressing experience. You hear of people who experience something like that and go away and change their lives and lose 2 stone. Not me unfortunately! But I’m pleased to say that Alex and her FINDRA clothing cheered me up no end. I went into the shop on the opening weekend, felt obliged to try on the clothing, thinking I would come out feeling fat, and was pleased/relieved/euphoric that the cut of the FINDRA clothing is amazing. I won’t say what it cost me (still haven’t told hubby), but I came out with shorts and 3 tops. Oops.
And to finish– I was in full FINDRA at Glentress on Sunday – with 3 male friends (always a good way to make you push yourself trying to keep up/show off) and managed to do a quite impressive skid/dive/splat, landing on my front at great speed, and my first thought was “Is my FINDRA OK?”. I’m pleased to say that there isn’t a single hole or tear in the clothing, the bruises are fading, and Strava said I did 15 PRs that day. I call that a result!