Updated: Nov 30
12 months ago I had never ridden a road bike, but after a bit of persuading from Dave (and some fun on a city bike in Berlin) I thought I'd see for myself what all the fuss was about.
So I borrowed Dave's bike (and padded shorts!) for a tootle down the lanes, and it wasn't long before I was debating the correct sock length for a cyclist and the benefits of chamois cream.
After a few rookie errors - including forgetting to unclip at a junction (ouch!) I was finding my feet - and legs, and tackling climbs that I thought might kill me. Horseshoe Pass, I'm thinking of you...
Dave introduced some structured efforts into our rides, improving my fitness and meaning that I was able to maintain a steady pace as we increased the miles. It turns out I'm easily bribed with food, so I was quite happy to add on some extra miles if it meant another cafe stop featuring coffee and cake.
As well as having a goal to work towards, it also helped to have consistency with my training. Which is easier said than done when you work full-time, study part-time and also like to watch a lot of Netflix. Thankfully, vegans tend to have quite limited social lives (!!) so I found 3-4 rides per week was manageable. In a few short months I'd gone from making excuse after excuse not to exercise, to sneaking in a quick 20 miler before work!
After a week of cycling round the mountains of Malaga, I was ready to tackle my first 100 miler.
Obviously the sensible thing for your first century ride would be to choose a nice *flat* route. Unfortunately for me, Dave had other ideas, so our route involved nearly 6000 ft of climbing, and was accompanied by just a little bit of complaining from me!
What I've learnt in my first year of cycling...
- Forgetting to unclip will happen. Luckily the only thing bruised was my ego, but it's still a good idea to carry a baby wipe and plasters..
- Always take an emergency banana. Or two.
- A good pair of padded shorts will literally save your ass.
- "Training camps" are the new holidays
- Some people will always take Strava too seriously (usually the same people who get annoyed at being overtaken!)
So the motto of the story is this - if I can go from 0 to 100 miles in less than 12 months, then there is hope for us all. Every cyclist was a beginner at some point, and a year ago I never thought I'd be spending my weekends in lycra and cycling up mountains FOR FUN. Just don't ask me to fix a puncture...
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