Thats Fareham Wheelers Cycling Club to you and me! Well, I did it. I went and I cycled with them this morning and I survived. I more than survived actually, I enjoyed it.
I was so nervous this morning, I knew I could do the distance, I just wasn't sure I could keep up and stay with the group. I was ready with bags of time to spare, so in that random mother way I have, I thought 'I'll just hang the washing out' and 'I'll just get their lunch sorted..' Before I knew it 20 mins had past and I was then leaving later than I had planned on. I had decided to cycle to the meet up point in Wickham, which is a hilly (in my opinion anyway!) 8 miles away, no biggie really, but certainly not a 'quick' route. I had to absolutely push my speed limits to ensure I arrived in plenty of time as I understood that they set off promptly. Given I was nervous anyway, then add in that I was running later than I wanted and pushing my legs to get me to the meet up, I arrived in a little bit of a fluster.
To say there must have been 50 of them is no understatement. I rounded the corner into Wickham village square and it was a sea of FWCC coloured lycra and bikes. No chance of missing them. I quietly stayed at the back and listened to the chat about the 3 routes, 'fast', 'intermediate' and 'social/taster'. As I stood I could feel my tension mounting. There were only 3 women, myself included, and every single other person had cleats on.. Just me in my trainers then! They all looked so sleek and bike ready, the kind of people you picture doing the Tour de France - certainly not my kind of fat house wife! I came very close to apologising and just going home, before they realised my lack of cred and I embarrassed myself. Then Nigel, the chap I had emailed, spotted me and called out from the front 'you must be Sarah?' and 50 sets of eyes clad in cycling sun glasses turned to stare at me. Gulp. So I thought 'screw it' and began a round of 'Sisters are doing it for themselves' by Annie Lennox in my head, and gave them all a big wave and smile. No turning back now.
The 'fast' and 'intermediate' cyclists all left, leaving me with Judith the 'social/taster' ride leader, and 10 other men. Much more manageable. Judith explained we'd be doing a circuit to include Winchester Hill and a coffee at the Sustainability Centre. Ironically we should have been camping there for Lughnasadh and had decided against it. As with all coincidences at the moment, I was going to the Sus Centre regardless. Sadly it also meant I understood the enormity of the hill before us!
So, we set off. We quickly settled into a rhythm and everyone was so friendly and chatty. It quickly became apparent that I was (obviously!) the slowest and so a couple volunteered to stay with me and I had a quick lesson in slip streaming, although they used another term but I annoyingly can't remember what it is now. The main group was always in sight, and we caught them a couple of times, but for the majority of the ride we were set a little back. Not for lack of trying on my behalf let me tell you!
By the time I had cycled there and back, and done the actual ride, I had done 46 miles and managed an average of 14 mph. I was so thrilled, because 16 of those miles were under my own steam and the journey home was tough - I was tired.
I really enjoyed myself. I am under no illusion, the men were being kind and helped me along and said all the right things, but regardless I am so proud of myself!!
Despite my fears this morning, I turned up, went out and had a great ride with a bunch of strangers! I have never done anything like that on my own! People like me don't do that sort of thing! But what I am loving the most this evening, is that I felt accepted. Little old me, in my crappy old trainers, cracked on and had a go and I came away feeling like I would be able to go back for another ride and nobody would mind.. How is that for a mad escapade on a Sunday morning.. So I urge you, Clanettes far and wide, please please go and try something new - don't listen to the nay saying voices in your head. If I can go for a scary bike ride with a bunch of male strangers and enjoy it (and want to do it again!), you can do whatever your heart desires too. Go on, I dare you!
PLEASE CAN WE ALL BE UPSTANDING AS I ANNOUNCE... DRUM ROLL PLEASE... SO FAR THIS YEAR I HAVE CYCLED 1001 MILES!! This AMAZES me!!