Le Tour de France

Confidence in 1,000 miles

Like many things in life confidence is only found through practice. Just knowing that what ever I do repeatedly will get easier, keeps me going. Whether that be making a skirt or cycling, in both cases practice improves skill, understanding and technique, and with this comes confidence.

When I first got on a road bike in May, I was partly terrified and partly exhilarated. There was such a sense of freedom of being able to cycle at a moderate speed. But, for me there is an additional anxiety of about falling off, not that I just don’t want to injure myself, but also not having a spleen, means fighting infection and recovering from illness and injury takes longer.

But now that I have been cycling for oooooh almost 4 whole months, I can see how my confidence has built, firstly it was all about the bike. Things like getting used to the gears, I often ran out of gears going uphill, no idea how I managed to do that, but I did.

Next it was the shoes, most road cyclists used clipless shoes, which ironically clip on to the pedal, however before the clipless shoes, cyclist used straps which went over the pedal to position the shoes on the pedal for better purchase. I started off with regular pedals and trainers, then added straps to the pedals, then graduated into rigid sole shoes. I still haven’t tried the clipless shoes but am sure I will be in them for next spring.

Flying downhill at speed was fantastic until I learnt that most accident happen going downhill, so I am a bit more cautious now, not much, just enough to balance exhilaration with safety.

Sooner than expected I found myself able to go longer distances, going out on Sundays – working up an appetite and stopping for brunch before returning home – a wonderful way to enjoy the day. Having used Sunday’s to develop stamina for distances I then used my weekly rides to improve my speed. I have been using an app Map My Ride which has been a great motivational tool for me.

Finally I had to work on the hills – it looks so easy when watching Le Tour de France, even the mountain stages. I had no idea how tough it was going up even small inclines, but it’s all about practice and persistence – and so I have kept going until finally I made it up the highest local hill – I would have celebrated when I reached the top, but breathing seemed somewhat more important!

I had never before appreciated road surfaces, there are just to many different types, some are a joy, others soul destroying – in which case it’s usually time for a sharp exit.

So finally after 4 months and 1,000 miles I am ready to cycle from London to Brighton, on Sunday. It will be my longest ride Β at 54 miles, but I am feeling confident and ready for the challenge, anyway I have to finish as I am being generously sponsored to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action in memory of my Mum, Joanna Roe who died of pancreatic Β cancer aged 72.