The Trouble with Cycling: Practice | Eclectic Cake: The Trouble with Cycling: Practice

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Trouble with Cycling: Practice

My battle to enjoy cycling continues…I’ve sold my too-big road bike and cancelled any races that involved the two-wheeled beast in favour of a far less soul-destroying one-mile commute to and from the station on my squeaky mountain bike. 

It sounds like a step backwards but by removing the pressure, I’ve actually begun to enjoy cycling! With no one around – no competition, no comparison – I fly and power up the hills. There’s no whizz of passing riders and no worry of time ticking to deflate me (except having to make the 07:55 train to King’s Cross). For the first time ever, I’m cycling regularly and (of course it’s true what they say about practice!) I can feel myself improving already. It’s not been plain sailing, though. I’ve still had a few tantrum moments but interestingly, they were nothing to do with actually peddling.

I’m quite an independent woman, I like to figure things out on my own. I’ll ask for help when I think it’s needed but often not on things I feel I should already know. I hate feeling stupid and I especially hate ‘failing’ on the things women are stereotypically bad at. So I get really frustrated that, when it comes to cycling, I fit nicely into the pigeon hole of ‘women-who-don’t-know-how-to-work-machinery’. To that title, according to my first commute, you can also add me to the ‘women-who-don’t-know-how-to-open-a-garage-door’ and ‘women-who-can’t-use-a-bike-lock’ boxes. Whilst trying to free my bike, I was so annoyed at myself for being inept, I refused two offers of help and instead chose to struggle with my new Fort Knox issue bike lock for a further ten minutes!

It’s for this reason I’ve been to three bike maintenance sessions. But whilst I can successfully change a puncture (just don’t ask how long it takes me), clean and re-grease my cogs, there’s still so much I don’t understand. At one of the sessions, the instructor was heckled with opinions on the tools he was using. If the teachers can't get it right, there's no hope for me! The best I can do is, just with the actual cycling, use my bike more and become more comfortable around it and the parts that make it work.

...And just now and again step back, take the pressure off and stop worrying about trying to be good at everything.

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