Monday 21st December was mine and Matt’s fake Christmas which basically was an excuse to open presents early! Though my present wasn’t a surprise, after me jokingly telling Matt I expected the bike wrapped up with a huge bow, this actually happened.
I basically ruined Matt’s 2 hours of hard work in 2 minutes and not too long later we were getting changed into our cycling gear. I say cycling gear but I wasn’t as prepared as Matt yet and ended up going out in my gym wear and in an attempt to keep warm – a bobble hat. Although I definitely lied and told my mum I already had a helmet…
“We aren’t going far” he said, “It’ll be a nice gentle ride down the canal”. In my head I was thinking “Great it’ll be a nice warm up for me to get used to the bike – it’ll be 20 minutes if that”. Oh how I was wrong….
In my sweet innocent imagination of a casual stroll down by the canal I had failed to think about how we would actually get there. Now of course that my friends involved roads. Busy Leeds roads with actual cars, vans & buses. Whilst I now realise this sounds ridiculously dramatic and thousands of cyclists remain unharmed on the roads around the world everyday, this personally was completely out of my comfort zone especially in my very first few minutes when I felt like a wobbly wreck and could have easily been mistaken as drunk.
In my (admittedly uncalled for) fury at Matt for taking me straight onto the roads when I didn’t feel ready I spent too much time shouting behind him working myself up that when I finally settled down I actually realised you know what…. roads are not scary as you think! I kept close behind Matt (took quite a bit of effort) and followed his signals and he ended up being my very own tour guide and a great one he was too. (If you’re nosey you can see his blog here)
We cycled 13km ( a baby trip for Matt) and the further we went the more stable and confident I felt, the faster I got and the more I enjoyed it. Despite the pouring rain which decided to start as soon as we got to the canal side, it ended up being great fun and I felt a big sense of achievement afterwards. As Nike say just do it.
Here are my…. 5 First Ride Revelations
1) The roads really aren’t that scary just be sensible & signal clearly.
2) Invest in some quality warm gloves for the winter months. I borrowed Matt’s new everyday gloves and my fingers were freezing!
3) If you are a glasses wearer and can wear contact lenses, when riding your bike choose contact lenses. I definitely got myself into a ‘I need windscreen wipers’ situation. That’s never good…
4) Use a low gear for going up hills. It definitely took a lot of experimenting for me to work out how to change gears and what gears I should be in and when. (Matt is definitely going to read this and be like “what hills?”)
5) It actually is quite fun… After getting over my initial panic I ended up having a really good time and felt great when I got home 🙂