It all started off so innocently, I opened my work email and there it was, “Calling all Newcross Healthcare Employees– Get involved and raise money for Action Medical Research for Children!
I enthusiastically scanned the email and spotted that it involved a trip to France, well that sounds good I thought, dreaming of vineyards and cheese “count me in!" But then common sense crept over me, where's the catch? It didn't take me long to find. A) I was going to have to ride a bike and B) I was going to have to ride a bike 261 miles. 261 miles! I re-read it to make sure I hadn’t been mistaken, but there it was clear as day 261 miles.
Well I thought, it is for charity and well to be honest, everyone in the promotional pictures looks happy... How hard can it be?
I signed up. What was I doing? I hadn't ridden a bike for years, come to that I didn’t even own a bike! A casual glance at cycling magazines and commuters on the road, not to mention my fellow team mates, told me things were going to be a little different since my last bike owning experiences.
After hours of trawling and lots of advice such as “buy a hybrid they’re more comfortable," and “don’t buy a hybrid they’re slower" not to mention “you need this size, not that size" I eventually put “bike please" on my Christmas list and voila, my wonderful husband bought me a shiny Carrera racing bike, so I could tick that off the list.
Next I needed to get cycling clothes to compliment the fancy wheels. Now it is fair to say that cycling gear is not everyone’s idea of high fashion.
I looked on in horror at the neon colours, the skin tight outfits, was I really going to have to wear this stuff? As I was beginning my training in the winter months, I was advised to go for longs. I tried them on and glanced at the mirror, with the over-shoulder straps I looked like a sinister power ranger, or some kind of Ninja yodeller, but I have to admit they did keep me warm and are comfortable.
Now it was time for training. I live in Devon, which by all accounts is a beautiful county full of rolling green hills. How lucky I thought I was, not having to peddle around a city choking on exhaust fumes or sit on an exercise bike, how lucky? How naïve more like it. I set off on my first ride, it started as it would carry on, uphill. I am now managing to peddle up to 20+ miles a ride, which I hope will translate to more on the flat.
I have learnt many things from training. Firstly padded shorts, they might not look cool, but after five miles, they are most certainly a lifesaver. It is inevitable that you will swallow the odd midge or fly. Learning to pace yourself is vital, always research your hills and have markers in your head and perhaps most importantly, nothing and I mean nothing, helps helmet hair.
I have always enjoyed swimming, but there is a freedom with cycling which I love and which I now cannot imagine giving up. I can't wait to take my place in Team Newcross Healthcare and ride from London to Paris for Action Medical Research, it's going to be tough, but it's
also going to be worth it.
Sponsor Michelle and Team Newcross here
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