I have always been somewhat of a solo cyclist.
There are advantages to cycling on your own. You get to make all the decisions. You decide what time to go. You decide how far and how fast you cycle. You decide whether or not to stop for coffee and cake. If you’re feeling great, you can hit a fast pace or go those extra miles. If you’re feeling rubbish and Wimbledon is on TV, you can go home early if you fancy it. It allows flexibility. However, like any individual sport, it can be a lonely old place.
So sometimes I will convince a cycling buddy to come along for company. These have ranged from keen cyclists themselves, to reluctant (but lovely) buddies who don’t necessarily share my passion for bikes but come along anyway. It’s always nice to share an experience and a cycling buddy provides someone to chat to, and someone to help if you get lost (which I do on a daily basis!) Switching from front to back position allows a break from the headwind, and actually following someone who knows the route allows me to relax a little.
Even more recently, I have discovered the joys of cycling in a group. I joined in with a Oneandall / BCR youth academy bike ride one Thursday evening. It was awesome to see young talents putting their cycling skills to good use and it was great to see the adults that came to support them and ensure their safety out on the roads. It made me wish someone had introduced me to a cycling club at a young age. However, it’s never too late! Of course, when I tagged along, they mostly had to support and ensure my safety as I was newly introduced to my road bike and clipless pedals. Everyone made me feel welcome, gave me cycling tips along the way and explained some of the crucial signals when out on the road. I began to understand how cycling in a group not only provides company but also protection and motivation.
Spurred on by my experience with the academy, I tagged along on a BCR social ride, aptly named Tour De France warm up! Once again it was nice to have a chat with new people and experience a new route I hadn’t yet cycled. The pace was faster than I ride on my own but this was a great way to get me moving! The time flew by as conversation often distracted me from the exercise itself. I enjoyed being able to follow Chris who knew the route well, and take in the scenery. Once again the group ride beat the solo cycling experience hands down.
Next group ride was with a lovely group of ladies (and a few men too!) called the Widger Spoke Easies, based up near Launceston. I was so nervous to ride with a group that I didn’t know. However, everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive. I swiftly forgot my nerves and concentrated on my cycling. Tami leads the group and, whilst constantly guiding and ensuring the safety of the group, she also rode with me at the front giving me hints and tips along the way. Changing gears and clipping in and out is still a learning curve for me. Being surrounded front and back with other cyclists, my safety is also their safety so it is important to get it right. I had to concentrate the whole route, but one by one everyone in the group rode alongside me and chatted to me. As time went on I felt more confident and relaxed, both with my cycling and with everyone around me. It was such a lovely cycling experience – one of my favourite so far. They were just a really lovely bunch of people that support women’s cycling and appreciate the need for a bit of support and motivation. I think a lot of female cyclists want to train for events like RideLondon but also just want to increase their cycling confidence, fitness and have a bit of fun! Lots of them are cycling in RideLondon too so I am looking forward to a few more training sessions with them before the big day!
Cycling can be enjoyed on so many levels and can be an individual sport as much as it can be a group experience. All I know is that I keep experiencing more and more that it has to offer, and I can’t wait for what’s round the corner. (as long as it doesn’t involve a wide load tractor and Cornish hedges!)