At the beginning of the week when Matt suggested we cycle to Otley and back (a 40km round trip) I replied with a nervous “yes”. As soon as that was said I began to worry. I felt uneasy on my first bike ride (which you can read about here) and that was a short 13km stroll down the canal. Whilst I had conquered my fear of cycling on the roads for a very short time in our bike ride before Christmas I obviously still wasn’t 100% confident. I was still unsure of gears and in all honesty I had doubts that I could even cycle there never mind there and back.
It remained in my mind all week and I have to admit deep down I was secretly hoping the weather would be too bad or our alarm would just mysteriously fail to wake us up Saturday morning. Friday night arrived and I began to work myself up and whenever Matt brought up the subject I quickly shut it down. I headed to bed for an early night and ended up watching road cycling tips on GCN’s Youtube channel to help make myself feel better.
7:45am on Saturday morning and our alarms went off. I put on my new cycling kit (starting to look the part) , fuelled up on Weetabix and off we went. The roads were quiet as it was early on a weekend but I don’t think my body was happy with me as my legs hurt within the first 15 minutes (wasn’t the best start)! Matt called out at me to let me know which gears to change and when but as time went on I learnt to do it for myself based on how the bike felt and whether we were on flat or hilly land.
After the first half an hour I began to feel a lot more comfortable, I got used to using the hood brakes, balancing whilst waiting for traffic lights, setting off quicker and clipping my feet into the pedals which I just could not master on the bike ride before Christmas!
A few people from the local cycling club passed by and said hello but seeing them cycle past and disappear in no time made me feel a bit like a tortoise. They are gooooood.
We had checked the weather forecast before setting off and all I can say is – it lied. 10km to go and the heavens opened, rain was pelting down and the wind was racing. Unfortunately due to the weather there was no view of the valley on our descent into Otley but I don’t think I would have been able to thoroughly enjoy it anyways as I was racing down the hill and it felt GREAT.
When we got to the town centre all we wanted was somewhere dry! I had puddles in my trainers (as a result of no proper cycling shoes or overshoes) and my hands were freezing. We decided to go to Spoons (we love it), tactically chose a table next to a radiator and ordered a well deserved second breakfast (from the child’s menu).
I looked an absolute state with no makeup, wet cycling gear and helmet hair but I didn’t care because I HAD CYCLED TO OTLEY! Now I just had to cycle back…
Luckily for the way home, the weather had settled down with the rain stopping and the sun peeking out to say hi.We cycled home a different way to avoid a very long hill but instead had a short steeper hill to go up. Now this I didn’t quite make (definitely had to stop half way up) but the sense of achievement when we got to the top was great and water had never tasted so good!
I was still on a huge buzz from completely surprising myself and surpassing all my expectations so just went for it on the hills on the way home. Think Matt was impressed. (Matt you were impressed).After those few hills it was downhill and flat the rest of the way and it turns out I LOVE cycling fast! I was loving life.
It was a huge personal achievement cycling that far on the roads. I felt such a sense of freedom whilst cycling, all worries escaped my mind and all I concentrated on was the road, my gears and pedalling. Safe to say I have the cycling bug and can’t wait to get out again to see if I can go further and faster! (This is a strong statement coming from a girl who gets out of breath walking up stairs) Plus when my Strava is telling me I’ve burnt 931 calories that is definitely another incentive to get out on the roads – cannot argue with that!
As my friends know all too well I’ve been ‘starting a diet tomorrow’ since 2010. I’ve felt negative about myself for too long now. Saturday was the first time I saw a glimpse of change and I don’t want that feeling to disappear. It’s time to start believing in myself, and this is a reminder that you should too 🙂