There’s been more than a breeze blowing locally. The weather here in Nottinghamshire has been pretty ropey this last week. I’m not complaining, technically we’ve had a drought compared to the amount of rain that has fallen in the some other parts of the UK. But we have had really strong winds for the last week and it’s put the kybosh on getting out on ‘the red one’ too much.
Last weekend, myself and some lovely friends hit the local country roads for a 20km cycle ride. The outward journey was beautiful; the sun was shining, it wasn’t too cold and we were heading to a coffee shop for cake – so all was good! But the return journey was 10km of riding in a full-on head wind. You could feel the bike being blown from under you. It wasn’t at all pleasant, but it was a damn good work out for the thighs. As the wind has stayed for most of this week, I’ve avoided a repeat of that experience and so I’m itching to get out.
What if they’re all better than me? – me
Two weekends ago though it was a glorious sunny morning. I got some friends together and I roped them in to my first ever British Cycling Breeze Sky ride. I’d been meaning to try one of these for the last year but never quite had the courage to sign up. For those that haven’t heard of these before, Breeze are organised rides specifically for women. The aim of them is to encourage more women into cycling.
I was feeling really apprehensive – I’m not too sure why to be honest. I think because it was a specific women’s cycling group, I was expecting everyone to be expert cyclists and super fit. The lovely women over on the VeloVixen facebook group were very reassuring and of course, it was absolutely nothing at all to worry about.
The signing up process was simple enough. I even got a confirmation email and a reminder email – you’d think they knew me. I’d forget my head at the moment, so that was a welcome addition – although, actually, when it comes to cycling, strangely my memory seems to work remarkably well!
So, my friends and I layered up and drove out to the beautiful Clumber Park, which belongs to the National Trust. There we met with Clare, the Breeze champion and another 8 women all set for cycling on some mountain bikes hired (at no charge) from Clumber Park’s cycle hire.
There were women of all ages, dressed in all different kinds of cycling gear and of all different abilities and thankfully all were smiling. Crucially, we all had one thing in common – we wanted to get out on our bikes in the bright sunshine without feeling under pressure to keep up with the men! And what a fantastic time we had.
There were hills, mud, puddles, roads, lakes and trees. And lots of other cyclists. We must have passed three groups of male road cyclists, three mountain bikers and a family all taking in the beautiful scenery at Clumber Park – all of whom were very friendly. That’s one of the things I really love about cycling. Everyone is super friendly. There’s always a smile, a ‘hello’ and a nod of the head as you pass each other. It was great fun and after an hour’s ride, and pretty much an hour of smiling, we were ready for the coffee shop stop for tea and cake at the end of it all. And other than the coffee shop stop, it didn’t cost a penny!
So if you’ve not yet tried a Breeze Sky women’s cycle ride, I highly recommend it. My friends and I definitely intend to do another, The pace was steady, everyone looked out for everyone else and no one got left behind. It was just a group of women who loved cycling.
Seeing as I got two friends to come along with me, do you think I can satisfy #3 and #6 of my 12 challenges for 2014?