I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate with cycling. I can still remember my first ‘proper’ bike; it was a pink Raleigh road bike and I covered the wheels in Kellogg’s bike reflectors. My brother was horrified. I can also remember my first bike crash; I over-estimated my abilities a little and came to grief on a country lane in Dorset when I was 12.
Looking back, the accident in Dorset wasn’t that serious as I only suffered a couple of grazed knees. The handlebars of my bike came off worse and needed fixing. I returned from Dorset and abandoned my bike in the garden shed. It was very much a case of out of sight, out of mind. My focus shifted to other sports such as running and horse-riding; in my opinion riding a horse was a lot safer than riding a bike.
I didn’t go near a bike again until I travelled to New Zealand with my best friend in 2005. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very enthusiastic when my friend suggested we hired a couple of mountain bikes. Once I’d overcome my slightly irrational fear of failing off, I was thrilled to discover that I hadn’t forgotten how to actually ride a bike.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photo of me looking terrified, so here’s another photo taken in New Zealand. My friend told me I looked a little reluctant.
Although I enjoyed spending the day mountain biking in New Zealand, I returned to a wet and gloomy England, and immediately started training for a half marathon. I didn’t go near a bike for another three years.