A good friend of mine & seriously talented mountain biker decided today that she wanted to start a blog. Among I’m sure many other reasons, she said she was inspired by my blog. Ironically, shortly before all this Covid stuff she also inspired me, which is how we became friends. Her passion for riding and competing in mountain biking stoked an old love of mine for being off the beaten track. She reminded me of my days over 20 years ago when I use to gingerly take my heavyweight mountain bike out onto the Quantock hills in Somerset and find my release from being a wife, housekeeper and mother to have a few hours just doing my own thing in the hills. I was oblivious to the fact that I was a very poor mountain biker. Because in that time I was free. I was my own person. It was hard. I was a terrible climber, and I had zero idea about training and what I would have to do to make this easier.
It was just me, the road and the hills. And to be honest, this was just the way I liked it. If I didn’t ride with anyone else, there were no comparisons to be made. You see, I had no confidence, just like so many others. I would have always been worried that I would have held others up. So I rode on my own and completely enjoyed the journey. Thankfully I am often quite happy in my own company. You see, when there is only one of you, you stop comparing yourself to others. And when you are not particularly quick….and female…and very inexperienced, that is what you find yourself doing, even unintentionally, when you ride with others. Comparison can be the death of ambition.
Don’t get me wrong, when you find the right group, then riding with others is bliss. It’s amazing to find your clan. Those wonderful, cyclists who both ‘get you’ but also ride at a similar pace. You know how far you are prepared to ride, and what kind of terrain works for you all. You know instinctively if you want a coffee and cake stop half way around, or whether you are looking for Strava segments then a coffee near the end.
But, back to the subject at hand. Why do I blog, and why it is such a great idea that my friend starts writing her blog?
Sometimes the purpose of my blog is to inform. Ultimately people just like me who are at the start of their cycling journey, might like to see what other people like them have experienced. They say the best way to learn quickly is to research those who have gone before. This is why we join event Facebook groups for instance, to gain knowledge from people who have already done what you are planning to do. By learning from others you don’t just find out how to do something, but often people share their failures, and this can save you from making the same mistakes.
But sometimes a blog is to get personal. If we have the right audience, it’s fair to say that our struggle will resonate with some of our audience. Whilst VLOGGERS talk to the camera and sometime divulge their inner struggles, so BLOGGERS do the same with the written word.
I find that sometimes just the action of writing my blogs is a personal release. It’s a way of expressing what’s going on in my heart. It helps me clear my head in a conversational way. It might be a one way conversation, but it doesn’t really matter. When you write, you have no idea whether the reader will be entertained, or even vaguely interested, but that doesn’t matter. And so it’s been a bit of a surprise to find that people are in fact interested, and that through some of my writings, people see a little bit of themselves. I’ve found that through reading my blog others have been inspired to make their own leaps of faith and to tackle things that they didn’t know they were capable of.
I hope that readers appreciate my honesty. Life isn’t perfect, far from it, but I continue to ride my bikes, most of the time with a smile on my face. Like many others, I have struggled with my mental health recently and I find that cycling helps me find a good balance in my life. It’s also why I chose to fundraise for Mind.
Finally, I like to blog to prove that you don’t need to be a super athlete in order to do something amazing. Just find your reason and follow it. Amazing adventures are guaranteed to be waiting for you.
By the way…who is my seriously talented friend? It’s Sharn Hooper, who is an Elite mountain biker based in Somerset. Why not head on over and take a look?