British Cycling recently launched their #OneInAMillion campaign aimed at bridging the gap between male and female participation levels in cycling and I’m 100% in support! I’ve been cycling for a few years now, enjoying most variations from commuting through to cyclocross racing more recently and the one thing that stands out is the lack of women.
Thinking about it though, I realised that it’s so easy for brands to shout from the ceilings that they “want more women to be involved”. Course they do, they want more money. But I think where most brands fail is to look at the reasons why women don’t take part and to then invest in the sport at a grassroots level…
So, meet Lucy. An everyday woman like you and I, but quite literally, one in a million! In Lucy’s story, she talks about the reasons that made her want to try cycling and her journey from there on in…
I began cycling in 2014 purely because I wanted to complete a triathlon. I’d been running for a few years and taking swimming lessons, so cycling was the missing piece in my goal of becoming a triathlete. I didn’t own a bike and hadn’t cycled since I was a child, so it was going to be a steep learning curve.
At the time, I was manager of a spin studio, so I had some cycling fitness and knowledge. However, I discovered it’s very different riding a road-bike to a stationary bike!
I bought a second-hand bike from my swimming instructor and set about learning to ride it. The skinny tyres and low handle-bars intimidated me and I felt wobbly and unsure. There was a lot to learn… keeping my balance, changing gears, clipping in and drinking whilst cycling. I had some cycling lessons with Cycle Training East to learn some basic cycling skills including starting and stopping safely, looking behind and signalling.
Most of my initial rides were on the Thames Riverside path or at Redbridge Cycling Centre to get used to cycling without worrying about traffic. My aim was to be able to ride 20km (12.4 miles) which was the distance of the bike leg of a sprint triathlon- that felt quite a challenge to me at the time.
After a few weeks of practice, I was ready for my first event- the Blenheim Palace Triathlon. Whilst I was really slow on the bike, I absolutely loved it. I definitely got the triathlon bug and couldn’t wait to sign up for my next race.
Since then I’ve done over 20 triathlons, including two half-iron distances, plus several cycling sportives. My confidence and fitness have improved and I’d say the bike is my strongest discipline out of the three sports. As I got into cycling and triathlon, I upgraded my bike- first to a Forme Longcliffe and then to a Liv Envie.
I’ve had lots of amazing cycling experiences – I’ve cycled in Lanzarote and Tenerife, I’ve tried out track cycling (which I hated) and mountain biking (which I loved)! I completed my British Cycling Ride Leadership course last year, which I put into practice by leading some of our beginners rides at my triathlon club. I do a lot of my training indoors on the Wattbike using Sufferfest videos- these are amazing for improving fitness and power.
What I enjoy most about cycling is the sense of achievement after completing a tough ride- I’ve accomplished things that I never thought would be possible when I started out. I’m always keen to set myself new challenges and push my limits when it comes to cycling and triathlon. In fact this summer, I’m doing the half Brutal Extreme Triathlon in Snowdon, which has nearly 5000ft of elevation gain over the 58 mile bike course.
I also love the social side of cycling. Riding through the country lanes with a group of friends from my triathlon club is the best way to spend a summer evening. I’m known for always cycling with a big smile on my face and that’s because I genuinely love being outside on two wheels.
Connect with Lucy at www.paddlepedalpace.co.uk