I hate cycling. I hate cycling in traffic, I hate cycling on deserted bumpy roads. I hate cycling up hills, I hate cycling down hills. I hate my constant fear of falling off, gained aged six when I broke my leg, and increased again after my recent tumbles. The entire experience terrifies me.
And yet, I find myself signing up to triathlons and long-distance rides, like the Prudential Ride London 100 miler coming up at the end of July. Despite all my fears and resulting hatred of the sport, there is this feeling of a challenge. Every time I get on my bike, I am facing my fears and making progress towards an impossible goal.
Yesterday, Graham and I cycled further than we have ever cycled before, covering over 100km from London to Brighton. It was a brutal wake-up call which made me dig down to my emotional depths. After 40km, I was ready to pack it all in and go home. But Graham was still up ahead, so although I was tearing up I had to keep moving. By the time I reached him I had decided that I would not stop, and I would not give up on this challenge. But again at Ditchling Beacon (the worst hill of the ride; it climbs 143m in the space of 1.45km) I broke down and ugly-cried, planning to walk to the top. Together though we took that nasty hill section by section, slowly conquering it just a few hundred metres at a time. And once we got to the top, we were rewarded with the most stunning views over the countryside, followed by a leisurely downhill to the fish and chips waiting for us at Brighton.
The main thing cycling has taught me is that you just have to keep on going. It doesn’t matter how often you pause and collect yourself, you can keep going and you will make it to the end. And the end is glorious.
Here are some photos for our ride!
Cycling 100km was a huge PB for me, although probably not as much of a confidence boost as I needed heading into my first half-iron triathlon in 3 weeks time! Can’t quite yet imagine how I’m going to run a half-marathon after all that time on the bike…
When was the last time you ugly-cried?