Today I attended my second cycling lesson and I was really chuffed that I managed to cycle most of the way to the lesson.
I am not cycling on roads yet and because we live close to a massive road intersection in Colchester I sensibly decided to walk with the bike and use the pedestrian crossing etc until I was away from all the chaos.
Colchester has a great network of cycle lanes and this was really helpful today as most of the journey was completed on them.
I obviously was a little nervous but it has proved that I can cycle away from home and it was my first time of cycling to the railway (which is on the way to the leisure centre). This is a big step as I now feel confident to cycle to the station and back which will knock some time off my commute 🙂
I had a huge sense of achievement when, for the first time, I locked my bike up on a bike rack and went into the leisure centre to grab a drink before the lesson.
It was chucking it down with rain when I turned up at the lesson and the instructors and a fellow student were sheltering in the container where they hold all the bikes.
Todays lesson for me consisted of tight turns, one-handed operation, looking back for traffic, signalling and weaving around cones.
All of these things seemed quite alien at first but it seemed quite obvious that the more I practiced the easier it became.
The cones were a particular nuisance especially as the instructor admitted she had put them a bit too close together but on the majority of my attempts I managed to sail through without incident.
As I was starting to cycle around the cones a couple of youths came into the park and one decided to pick on me with regards to learning to ride. It was at that point that I felt a bit intimidated and was reminded of why I hated learning at school as all my friends seemed to be far more advanced than me. I don’t believe I was bullied at school but I did feel intimated easily which I have since overcome…
I shouldn’t have worried though as I stood my ground and got on with it – as he saw me cycle off he actually wished me well!
It was hard work today and I was very hot, not least cause I had my running jacket on. It didn’t really protect me that much so when it stopped raining I removed it and I was soaked to the skin.
This in some way also reminded me of school – I never used to like getting mucky and wasn’t keen on any type of dirt or grime. I think the running has knocked this out of me as I can get quite muddy running in the rain. My legs are covered in scrapes where I’ve knocked myself on the bike but I have persevered and carried on with it. Today I managed to knock my calf along the gears and had a huge grease patch on my leg – did I care? Not one bit!
I did set the Garmin today just to see how long I would cycle – well I set it when I remembered to press start! That said it recorded 12K so with the bits I forgot I may have completed 14K which is not bad going.
At one point when I was learning to signal another instructor suggested I gave him a high-five as I passed. Of course this immediately freaked me out and I nearly ran him over! I’m past that now and I know that patience and confidence are key when riding a bike.
I wasn’t phased when I finished the lesson and cycled home feeling proud and confident of my achievements.
The instructors were very helpful and I cannot thank them all enough for their time and patience. I’d like to wish all the other students all the very best with their training and I hope they find a new-found love in cycling just like I have.
The instructors also offered me the ability to go back to practice and have more lessons when we return from Canada – this was very kind of them as you are officially entitled to two lessons.
I may have said it last time but I cannot thank them enough and the ability to confidently take these lessons has been life changing for me.
By some twist of fate an old lady turned up for the next lesson and she heard the instructors wish me all the best for cycling on holiday in Canada. Turns out she was from Vancouver!
So I headed home and took the same approach, dismounting and walking with the bike when I was at junctions and busy intersections. I stopped half way to go to the local DIY store for some bits and then onto a local running and cycling shop (53-12) to look for some lights. Sadly they were not as friendly as the staff I encountered in Colchester Cycle Stores so I left empty-handed and decided I won’t use them and will use the Cycle Store or Wiggle when I need to kit out my bike.
I managed to navigate all the new roads and obstacles around the stores etc and headed home, happy and confident in my riding ability. I wasn’t phased by pedestrians (but mindful of them) and managed to cycle back in good time and in high spirits.
I am now back home having enjoyed a well deserved hot shower, a spot of lunch and a post cycle rub down from my hubby 🙂
I want to say a huge thank you to Richard for encouraging me to do this and for my friends whom I am sure I have been boring with these achievements when most of them have been cycling all of their lives! That said I have now discovered many people who cannot cycle and it seems (like the running), I am inspiring them to get on their bikes!
Whatever you are doing have a great weekend!