I originally got a bike for fun. My husband and I could go out and do something active together, get some fresh air and sample a few country pubs on the way. Everyone’s happy. But I really don’t feel very happy.
Perhaps getting a bit carried away with the idea of races before even doing one, I committed to doing a super-sprint triathlon (200m swim–12.5k cycle–2.5k run) next month and a super-sprint duathlon (5k run–10k cycle–5k run) in September. This was all before I realised that I’m awful at cycling! My legs just can’t cope, especially when they hit a hill. I feel like I’m trying to drag an elephant through treacle!
What better way to train up my legs, I thought, than with a group of women who all enjoy cycling. People that could offer advice and give me a push (I mean this figuratively and, it turns out, literally) when things get tough. I’ve got a mountain bike and love a bit of mud, so thought I’d join Total Women’s Cycling for their first Mountain Bike social – three hours of trails for all abilities in the beautiful Surrey hills.
There was the guest pro (good, in safe hands), the road cyclist/first time trail rider, the self-confessed experienced but slow rider, and a group that already knew the area well and had all the kit (some bike comparison talk helped confirm this).
I was quick to declare myself as a complete novice. There was no point in hiding it. The group had already spotted my Tesco bike, suggesting that after the session I'd probably be hooked and want to buy a 'real bike' whilst they tinkered on it, making my seat the right height and checking my inferior tyres.
We finally got moving but not before I demonstrated my skills on my newly heightened saddle by wobbling around and almost falling off – we hadn't even left the car park! I soon wished I never had.
A few of the kitted-up cyclists zoomed off whilst the rest comfortably peddled along whilst chatting. I was chugging and gasping for air just on the entrance to the park. Then we hit a hill. My legs kept moving but my bike refused to move! As everyone started to disappear, the pro noticed I was struggling and suggested more tinkering. But this meant my saddle was so high I couldn't get stable enough to hop on. More bike tinkering and my seat was back down to a slightly more comfortable height but the rest of the group were nowhere to be seen, and inbetween us and them lay an even bigger hill. Ever stubborn I started up this mountain with a push from the pro but a wobble sent me toppling, not just physically but emotionally. Yes, I cried!
I was frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn't even tackle the first hill. And that I was actually crying about cycling! Gutted that I had to admit defeat and quit – I hate quitting! And I was worried – if this was an 'all abilities' group, then I clearly had NO ability! How on earth was I going to complete a triathlon!
There is much work to be done.