At the end of January 2019, British Cycling launched their #OneInAMillion campaign aimed at bridging the gap between male and female participation levels in cycling. Having been cycling myself for about 6 years now (as an adult),it’s been hard not to notice the lack of female representation especially when I’m taking part in sportives or races.
All of my own cycling adventures are documented here on the blog from taking part in the Tour of Cambridgeshire last year to my most recent foray into trying mountain biking. My memory probably isn’t serving me that well, but as far as I can remember, my very first organised event on a bike was the London Duathlon . Which brings me nicely onto Becca’s cycling story of becoming a cyclist and combining riding with her passion for running…
My journey to becoming a cyclist, wasn’t actually born from an initial interest in cycling as a hobby, instead it came from a curiosity to complete the Ride London 100mile cycle as part of the London Classics. In a brave moment (fuelled by wine) I decided to apply for the Ride London ballot, at this stage I had never ever ridden a road bike, I didn’t even own a bike and the thought of cycling lycra made me gag. However, not long after a chunky magazine plopped onto my doormat and there I was reading a letter congratulating me on gaining a place. At first I hid it from everyone, I was in total denial. I wanted to do it but I didn’t think I could and more pressingly I didn’t feel I deserved the place over other people who actually did own a bike and knew how to change a tyre.
A few days passed and my decision was made. I was going to try it. The deferral process is very generous and I live by the mantra that if you don’t try you don’t know what you’re missing out on. And so began a crazy few months of bike shopping, kit shopping, so much shopping- it isn’t a cheap hobby at all. As I was still training for the London Marathon at this point all my initial training was done on a watt bike. I’d already had a few trips and falls during my marathon training and thought it best to stay on two feet, rather than two wheels for the time being.
Once the marathon was over, I ventured out on my new bike for the first time. My Decathlon B’Twin fondly named Betty is my first ever road bike and will always hold a very special place in my heart. I opted for flat handle bars to give me some confidence and I’m very glad I did as a beginner. My first cycle was so so scary, I was convinced I was going to fall off. Getting used to cycle shorts was also a strange task. I threw myself into my Ride London training and I really enjoyed it. Hills and all. My partner enjoys cycling and for the first time we could share the training together.
The day of Ride London came, the weather was awful, the hills were tough but I did it- and I had an absolute blast. In fact I’m doing it again this year! All the weeks of training had come to fruition. Originally the plan had been to train for Ride London with no long term plans to become a cyclist. But cycling had become such a huge part of our lives and our leisure time that I didn’t want to let it go. After Ride London I went on to complete London Duathlon, combining my love of cycling with my passion for running. I definitely think my heart lies in duathlon (run bike run). I recently completed my second event, a super sprint distance- 1 mile run, 5 mile cycle, 1 mile run and placed 2nd lady and 5th overall. I’m so glad I started cycling as I never would have found this passion otherwise. This year I am aiming to complete my first triathlon- so who knows I might become hooked on something else.
I never imagined I would become a ‘cyclist’ and choose to spend my time in lycra out on the bike in all kinds of crazy weather. I’ve been extremely lucky to cycle both in the UK and out in Majorca (which was a dream come true). I still find the downhills scary- I think I always will. I’m not 100% sure I can change a tyre by myself successfully, but I’ll certainly give it a go with the help of a youtube video. I can vouch that wearing cycling kit actually increases your body confidence, you feel utterly badass on the bike and learn to love your body whatever shape it is. I love spending weekends out on the bike, especially in summer, it is good for the soul.
I’m proud to be woman who cycles, and I certainly recommend it to anyone.
For tips and advice on how to get started in cycling check out the British Cycling women’s hub