I have a tricky relationship with cycling.
When I was about 12, we went on a cycling holiday to Germany. During the week, it rained for an entire day, and, just as we pulled back into the campsite, I fell off into a puddle. I had a huge strop and vowed I’d never cycle again. I hardly rode a bike at all through my teens, not needing to, and not having any urge what so ever to get on the road.
Whilst on my gap year in Thailand, I signed up for an adventure race with my friend Johnny. Deciding I ought to do a bit of training, Brian, a South African triathlete IT teacher, volunteered himself as my coach… and this meant riding round the roads of Bangkok at 5am before work on a road bike that was too big for me. During the race, I fell off really badly, and ended up needing to have 4 anaesthetic injections in my knee so that they could scrap the infection out without me screaming the hospital down. I’ve been pretty scared of going round corners quickly ever since.
Then I went to uni, and realised that cycling everywhere would save me many pounds a week, and meant I wouldn’t have to take the bus.
And now? Now cycling takes up a great many hours of my life every month. I cycle to and from work every day, do spinning classes three times a week, do a mid length mid week ride and a long ride at the weekend. I sign up to cycle races and I like to think I could call myself a semi – cyclist.
And yet… I really hate it sometimes. Sometimes I want to just revert back to being 12 and chucking my bike back in that muddy puddle and never get on it again. I hate how cold you get and how impossible it is to get your feet and hands warm. I hate how much of a faff it all is: getting ready to go, planning a route, cleaning the bike afterwards. I hate how scientific it can be and how mo’ money means less problems and faster times. I hate how cars treat you, and how snobby the world of cycling can be. BUT. But I still do it, because there’s something about it that just gets me. I do it partly because it’s such a huge part of triathlon, and I HAVE to. But I also do it because I love the feeling of freedom being on the bike gives me; I love conquering a hill and then flying down the other side. I love being outside, and exploring Sussex – covering miles and miles I never could by running. I love the turbo and spinning for making me sweat like nothing else quite can. I love looking at a map and knowing I can get somewhere on pedal power alone. I love the adventures you can have as a cyclist – be it cycling from London to Brighton or the New Forest to Bournemouth on the hottest day of the year.
I also really like the amount of clothes involved, and how pretty my road bike is.
Cycling: you do my nut, but I really bloody love you.