So in the aftermath of Pru100 – if you didn’t know this was quite a big cycling event that happened in London last weekend where participants could either take part in a 46 or 100 mile traffic free ride – I thought I would write a little something about my own recent experience in a big ride, courtesy of Specialized UK.
I only discovered cycling in April last year. Frustrated that a naughty hamstring prevented me from even walking without pain, never mind running, I found that I could just about manage cycling – freeing me from the central line day in day out! I started to really enjoy cycling, somehow stumbled into my first triathlon that summer and then all of a sudden I started training for my first 70.3. When I was training for my 70.3, bar a couple of really lovely early morning laps with some pretty inspiring women cyclists, most of my cycling was a solo affair. This was partly because I knew I would be racing on my own so I needed to get used to being out on my bike but also because, if I was totally honest, I was a little terrified of joining an actual cycling group.
So I know I am not the slowest on the bike, I am pretty stubborn so that helps, but cycling and me did not click like running. I didn’t notice a steady progression in my skill, my comfort, my speed and my lack of confidence in my ability meant that the idea of joining a group of fellow cyclists and being totally overwhelmed by how good everyone else would be just put me off.
However, one of my lovely cycling friends had found the opposite, she had grown from strength to strength through joining a cycling group and her enthusiasm was infectious so when she invited to me to join Specialized in celebrating women’s cycling by taking part in an exclusive ride honouring La Course, I signed up immediately and was pleasantly surprised!
I stood in Brixton Cycles with over 50 other women, some with very fancy looking kit, others in every day wear all just excited to be munching on HUGE croissants chatting about the day ahead – so far so good. Once on the road people were really chatty, sharing stories & experiences and generally just being lovely and welcoming. Granted this was a very social ride but it totally changed my impression of what cycling in large numbers could be like. Most were from various cycling groups/clubs around London and explained how going out in big groups meant their confidence grew rapidly not only when it came to riding, but with bike maintenance (much needed in my case) and plotting routes!
Specialized have another free event coming up in October so I will be stalking their facebook for registration details. In meantime however I am hoping to go out with some of the groups I met and enjoy a more social, less scary, side of cycling :D!