When a life without bikes is no life at all

When a life without bikes is no life at all
27 November 2016 Janine

A guest blog about becoming smitten by road cycling, by Katherine Moore

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When I had the chance to hop on a friend’s road bike for just a short stretch of cycle path just two years ago, a whole new world opened up to me. Since that summer of 2014, bikes have become my obsession, my passion, my therapy and my friend.

The first road pedal strokes

At first, it was terrifying, a flighty, finely balanced beast between my legs rather than the sturdy upright hybrid that I had ridden around university laden with groceries.

Sport was never my forte. In fact, I was always the last one struggling back after the gruelling cross country runs and first to tap out in the bleep test. Having always been what I perceived to be larger than my classmates and friends growing up, and then having put on more weight during my university years, in my early twenties I was keen to get into shape and lead a more healthy lifestyle.

“Aspire to inspire before you expire” 

Discovering road cycling allowed me to find a form of exercise that didn’t fill me with dread, but it was so much more than that. Having moved across the country to kickstart my career, joining the local cycling club gave me a second family – local people who could really make me feel part of something, even if most of them were old enough to be my parents! Eager to spend to time on my new wheels, the once challenging 14 mile commute soon became the norm, in frost, rain or shine.

Every club ride was a struggle trying (and failing) to hang onto the back of the slow group, but I was always heartened by the kind cyclists who took it in turns to help me back in and encourage me along the way.

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Achieving more than I could have ever dreamt

Over the first year it was a matter of building up fitness levels and bike handling skills and learning to ride in a group, not to forget, the importance of post ride beer/cake. It was evident that I was completely hooked, having finally found a sport that I felt I could actually be good at. For me, it was not only the physical ability that was so new and exciting, but the mental strength that I was building, getting tougher and more resilient with every exhausting soggy ride.

“I was secretly delighted when colleagues proclaimed ‘you must be mad’ when I was togging up to tackle a thunderstorm on my way home or head out in search of the steepest local climbs.”

I was secretly delighted when colleagues proclaimed ‘you must be mad’ when I was togging up to tackle a thunderstorm on my way home or head out in search of the steepest local climbs. I would have never dreamt that within a year I would complete the RideLondon Sportive, not only riding one hundred miles but also raising over £1500 for a charity dear to my heart.

The next major milestone was upgrading my road bike with a new Colnago C60. It was a bit of a splurge but I knew this wasn’t just a hobby that would come and go, this would be an investment for life. Needless to say I’m completely smitten and it’s not wearing off.

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More to bikes than just the road

Moving to Bristol recently was a step change. From riding out in the countryside in Northamptonshire and Rutland I had never met hipsters with fixies, no local velodromes for track cycling and I’d never even heard of cyclocross. The biggest change of all was finding people of my own age with a shared passion for bikes – now that certainly is the best way to make friends in a new city.

So just two years on and no less than four bikes to my name – Fly, my first love, Enzo the C60, Carlos the hardtail MTB and the latest addition, Wout the cylocross bike. Luckily my likeminded housemates tolerate the place always being full of wheels and I swear I own more lycra than normal clothes.

Where next?

Overwhelmed by the choice of disciplines, roads to explore and challenges to grasp, it’s tough to just focus on a few. Bikepacking sounds like fun, and there’s a few hill climbs in the diary too. I know I’ll never be the fastest or go the furthest, but for me it’s all about the adventure of it, pushing my boundaries and exploring new territories. And in those unavoidable moments of doubt I’ll always recount what my inspirational Granny used to say:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “wow! What a ride!” ― Hunter s. Thompson

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You can read Katherine’s honestly written accounts of her inspiring adventures on her blog here.

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