“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein
If you’re following me on Instagram (@lydsberrypie – sad little shoutout – I saw an opportunity, and I seized it) you’ll be aware of my latest sporting endeavour: cycling.
Coming from a family who fervently follow all the cycling tours throughout the year, with most family activities revolving around cycling in some form or another, I’m a bit of a ‘disappointment’ preferring to spend time on two feet rather than two wheels. If they’re not actually in the saddle, they’re busy musing over bike parts, bike ‘gear’, planning routes, or in the garage tweaking various bits and bobs in order to bump up their KOMs on Strava (the sibling rivalry just got serious).
Some would say I’m in a good position, with a family willing to spend time transforming me into the next Lizzie Armitstead (now Deignan) or Victoria Pendleton. However, in my head I still don’t particularly think of myself as a cyclist.
First issue to be addressed: my sense of direction is diabolically, horrendously, ridiculously bad. Countless times have I have found myself ahead of the group with nobody to follow, only to end up totally and utterly lost. If I’m meant to turn right, I’ll turn left. If I’m meant to carry straight on I’ll turn in. Unlike my map-reading, direction-savvy family, 99% of the time I – quite literally – have no clue where I am.
Secondly, saddle soreness is a harsh reality. Despite being told on many occasions that “you get used to it, stop complaining”, I am incredibly sceptical that any amount of cushioning (we’re talking full-on padded cycling leggings here) will ever give me refuge from this dire hardship.
Next – one word – cleats. AKA; the human deathtrap. I think every cyclist is required to have some form of wholly humiliating incident related to cleats as a sort of ‘initiation’ into the cycling community. And I, naturally, am not exception. To cut a long story short, stopping at a junction and unclipping with what I have since been told was the wrong foot, left me with an agonising two hours in A&E to be followed by a week of sling-struggles. Yes, I know, very clever. However, a good few accident-free rides with my ‘friends’ the cleats later, and I think we have become well acquainted.
So, I’m ‘learning to love the saddle’ yet so far, I seem to have just moaned about the downsides. There are, of course, a multitude of reasons why my family (and millions of others) are hooked on cycling. First and foremost, two wheels and higher speeds allow you to cover much more ground than two feet. Through biking, I’ve discovered many beautiful little villages I never even knew existed. At my speed in particular, you go slow enough to notice the little details and really take in the scenery. I’ve ventured far, far further on the bike than I ever have running.
As I become further immersed in the cycling community, I have no doubt that I will, eventually, come to love the saddle. But for now, the plan of action is to stick at it, gritting my teeth when the saddle soreness becomes unbearable and my quads are burning halfway up a hill. Watch out for me at the next tour, Froomey, I’m coming for you! (…do they let girls in?)
Picture note: taken during last summer’s trip to watch Ride London, pictured are team Sky (plus other pro-cycling teams) raring to set off at Horseguards Parade. Like I said, family holidays are almost always punctuated by cycling events of some form or another. I hope to – maybe one day – take part in Ride London, although I don’t think I’m quite up to a 100-miler just yet.