Taking a glance at my book collection, it's not hard to understand why I feel compelled to travel all over the world with my bike. My reading material transports me to far flung places, and it's usually around this time of year, when the evenings are dark that I bury my nose deep into the next epic cycling adventure.
December 22nd is notable in my calendar for two reasons. First, it's my daughter Abi's birthday. Who knew 31 years ago that I would be doing the other notable thing, an overnight bike ride on the shortest day of the year and on a night where there were weather warnings galore?
Being a long distance cyclist was accepting that it was all I could become. Yes I could cycle a long way, and I loved to do this, but I felt I was deluding myself if I thought I could ever be even slightly competitive as a cyclist. Completing a long distance event in time, let alone a good time, was something that more capable & usually younger women did, not me. I would enter, because I liked the idea of a particular ride, and my aim was simply to complete it, hopefully in time. So what’s change my perspective?
The strong desire to travel far away and to many different places For as long as I can remember I have loved to travel. As a child, I would explore the local countryside, often travelling much further than my parents would have approved of. No matter what was going on in my life, my bike gave me the freedom to either escape or explore. The desire to leave the world behind for a few months, with nothing to think about other than eat, sleep, ride appeals.
In the early 19th Century, the first bicycles were developed by men, for men. Until the turn of the 20th Century, bicycles were considered only suitable for men since they couldn’t be ridden effectively sidesaddle – which was felt to be the only way that delicate ladies could ride anything! I want to pay homage to some of those early female pioneers that broke the mould and went on to spectacular achievements at a time when women were still not supposed to exerting themselves, due to it being considered too dangerous to health, and also the stars of today, that still continue to inspire and break not only women’s records, but also some of those set by men. Who says women aren’t strong?
Shortly after my PBP ride, my daughter Abi sent me a message that took me by surprise a bit... "Mum, I think I'd like to ride LEL in 2021" My response, "Blimey, you don't do things by halves, do you? Have you any idea how hard that is?" I was so proud, and then promptly set about sending her advice about all the things she would need to consider, and ways to build up her mileage and progress to the really long miles. This 'advice' was mostly unwelcome, but that's what mums do, and it's certainly what I do.