Sunday, 8 October 2017

Riding full circle with an Olympian

If you have glanced at the biography on my blog, you'll know that my life changed during London 2012.

When they said that they wanted to 'inspire a generation', I doubt that the Olympic organising committee had me in mind. But from the moment Danny Boyle's opening ceremony held a nation open-mouthed, I was hooked.

I listened to the wrestling while walking the dogs. I sat in the car outside my house, waiting for the Tae Kwando podium positions to be decided. I jumped off the sofa on Super Saturday and I cried at every medal ceremony. The revelation for me, though were the cyclists.

As a middle aged woman, I was unlikely to turn my new interest in wrestling into a hobby. But when the amazing women of the Great British Cycling team stormed onto our screens, I was inspired.

I was a woman. I'd got a bike. I could do what these women did. Just slower.

I took my first ride the day after the team pursuit women won gold. I dug my bike out of the shed and set off on an eight mile circuit from the house. I was sick when I got home.

But I kept pedalling.

For weeks, I fell off every time I turned right. The same group of women helped me to my feet twice. The second time, one of them shook her head sympathetically and suggest I leave my bike and come with them to the pub instead.

But I kept pedalling.

The following year I rode London to Brighton. The year after that, Ride London 100. In 2015 I ran away from a big birthday by setting off on my own to pedal across India.

Since that team pursuit medal ceremony I've pedalled thousands of miles. I've listened to skylarks, watched buzzards gliding above my head and ridden past wild leopard and desert dwelling peacocks. I've cycled myself happy, forged friendships and enjoyed a LOT of cake. Along the way I've met some wonderful people who helped me get my head round my gears, fixed roadside punctures and encouraged me up hills.

When I got the opportunity to become a Breeze Champion, I found a way to pay forward some of the support I'd received from the cycling community.

I've been a Breeze Champion since 2015. It's one of the best parts of my life. I've loved helping women set out on their own cycling journey. I enjoy the camaraderie, the friendship, the laughter and of course, the cake.

This weekend my pedalling came full circle. Unbelievably, I got to ride alongside a member of that gold medal winning pursuit team.

British Cycling asked Breeze groups to set out why Joanna Rowsell Shand should join their ride. I told them about some of the women whose lives had been transformed by Breeze. I let them into a secret about the ice cream farm we visit and promised them a Patterdale Terrier with the footballing skills of Pele.

Yesterday I kept pedalling but this time I wasn't riding solo. I was part of a very special cycling team including my fellow Breeze Champions, our fabulous riders and for one morning only, Joanna Rowsell Shand. Reigning Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion and part of that legendary team of women who set my pedals turning.




2 comments:

  1. Lovely story but it doesn't say your name anywhere!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lesley. I'm really glad you enjoyed it and took the time to comment.

      The name thing is deliberate. When I started the blog I wanted it to be something separate from 'me', where I could write freely. I've never even told my friends about it.

      More recently some of the posts have appeared in magazines which has blown my cover a bit 😊

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