I discovered cycling as an attempt to combine some of my favourite things - being outdoors, being active, and being with my boyfriend. He’d always been a mountain biker, but started road cycling for fitness (and networking - it turns out cycling really is the new golf).

I’d owned a bike as a child, but it had never been a massive part of growing up for me. Inevitably it was sold after my mum had enough of it ‘cluttering up the shed’ at her house. Rediscovering cycling on a road bike in my mid-20’s was therefore a bit daunting at first. My first outing was on a hired bike, through the New Forest. There’s really no better place to start- mainly flat, quiet, and absolutely beautiful, with the added bonus that you’ll probably get the chance for a rest when a pony blocks the road. 

Pretty soon we were seeking out new places to hire a bike and ride every weekend. Having my own bike was the next step, and I turned to ebay for a bargain whilst still persuading myself I could be a cyclist. I wore my running kit on my first ride on my new bike, completely indifferent to my boyfriends teasing. Little did I know how important kit is!

Having my own bike suddenly opened all these new routes and possibilities for me, and cycling became more and more a part of my life - for fitness, for fun, and as the best way I can think of to really get to know places. I started incorporating it into holidays and weekends with friends, steadily getting stronger, faster and more confident.

Starting at Wiggle was a massive catalyst in me taking cycling more seriously. I fully took advantage of being surrounded by some really talented riders, and having the opportunity to learn from them. Their passion was infectious. In 2017 I took on Ride London and loved every minute of it. Taking my training more seriously, and seeing the results each time I logged a ride on Strava really spurred me on. Later in the same year, I had the opportunity to take part in a 25hour race as part of an all-female Wiggle team at the Redbull Timelaps. A massive mix of professional cyclists, wannabe professional cyclists, and the normal people like us, it was an amazing experience, and such a great example of how cycling brings people together.

This year, I combined a milestone birthday with my biggest cycling challenge to date - riding the Stelvio Pass in Italy. The ride ended up at over 100km, with 3300m climbing, and more than 7 hours on my bike. It’s by far the toughest thing I’ve done to date, but the sense of achievement, the views and the incredible pizza I knew was waiting at the bottom all made it worth it. We climbed the Stelvio from both sides (up from Bormio and then up from Prato) with a little detour into Switzerland along the way. It wasn’t fast, but that wasn’t the point- and that’s why I love cycling. Sometimes it is about going fast, sometimes it’s to explore somewhere new, and sometimes it’s just about catching up with friends whilst being active. For me, there’s a place for all these rides. 

I’ve got the inaugural VeloSouth to focus on now, then I’ll be looking for next years challenge. 

 

About the author

ksmith's picture
Kirsty Smith
Published on: 14 Jan 2019