I first learned to ride a bike age 8 in Halifax when I was visiting my cousins. At that time I didn’t have my own bike, but later on I got my first mountain bike (Raleigh Activator) age 12, which I stripped apart, re-painted and rebuilt.
Circa 2018, I tried road cycling whilst on holiday in Dubai on the Al-Qudra track (a training ground for cyclists including the pros, like Geraint Thomas and Caleb Ewan). I rented a road bike for the first time and did 60km with no padded shorts (I regretted it later) and that is where I fell in love.
I bought my first road bike and started cycling properly during the pandemic. It was a great opportunity to get outdoors and see the beautiful countryside.
Cycling can become really competitive. I think it’s a challenge when you start comparing yourself to others. When I see people’s Strava stats or I want to ride with someone and I know that I’m not going to be able to hold their wheel, I feel a bit envious of those that exceed what I’ve been able to achieve. Land’s End to John O’Groats is not out of my reach, but since I haven’t done it, I feel a bit jealous of the people who have.
Your bike can become your best friend. In a lonely world, where it can be challenging to talk, it certainly helps me process my thoughts and feel grounded again.
I used to travel abroad a lot and used flights to run away; now, seeing the English countryside has become my great escape. I have also made lots of friends along the way, and my riding companions understand my love for the bike and passion for cycling. It’s also a great conversation starter with senior colleagues, as cycling seems to be the new golf for many! For me, cycling is a social activity; I don’t really ride alone, it’s always with a few friends or a full group. We usually ride in the evenings after work or at weekends. The rides always have a mid-point, a pit stop for refuelling (with cake and coffee).
Road cycling can be intimidating for many and riding in a group can help overcome this, which is the main reason why I joined our local Brothers On Bikes group. The group provides support and encouragement when you’re struggling on a steep incline or feel like giving up. Our local group is made up of over 30 members who are a very friendly bunch. Their aim is to share their love of cycling with others from all faiths and beliefs, and to support those looking to start or get back into it. Riding with a cycling club for the first time can sound daunting, but everyone is really welcoming and understanding. They offer friendly advice and support one other in a relaxed environment. They teach you how to ride in a group safely, simple maintenance advice and the importance of coffee and cake stops when riding.
If you want to get into cycling for fitness, commuting, socialising, racing or just want to enjoy some coffee and cake guilt free, then check out their website HERE.