As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was asked by British Cycling to become a Breeze Champion, which is a network to encourage women back into cycling. As part of that, I had to take part in a Leadership Course, so that I could be qualified to take groups of women out on the town … I mean cycling around town.
I didn’t know what to expect and although I was excited to attend, I also had the beginning of what turned out to be flu, and I’d had my tooth extracted the day before so suffice to say, I wasn’t looking forward to the long journey to Bracknell. (Plus a random ex lived there and I hadn’t been back in 15 years!) But I left at 7.30am on Sunday morning and headed over.
And I absolutely loved every minute of it!
It was the perfect combination of meeting a group of amazing and interesting women, cycling around the exotic residential streets of Bracknell on a sunny day and sitting in the classroom drinking tea, eating (the tutor’s biscuits) and learning more about how to lead a group of cyclists. The course covered basic route planning, logistics, the Highway Code and how to manage groups of people, and then we put it all into practice taking it in turns by being the leader at the front, and then the back – not as easy as it sounds.
(Krystal on the left is an amazing cyclist – do check out her blog. And that’s Allwin in the middle – a gorgeous lady, inside and out.)
It was so much fun and of course I passed with an A*/First/Distinction (OK, I just passed like everyone else), but the reason I went all the way to Bracknell, on a Sunday morning, whilst at death’s door, is simple. Somewhere along the way in life, I lost my confidence. I don’t know quite when, but I do know some of the reasons why, and the upshot is that I fundamentally lost who I was. I’m trying to find that person again … except everything is now different, and older, and less pert … and I know I’m not alone. You reach a certain age in life when you are needed less by others but you’ve lost your identity. At least that’s how I feel. Simple things like cycling, that we took for granted as kids, become big obstacles because we lack confidence in everything, but I want to show women that it IS possible to get that confidence back. I’m doing it week by week by reclaiming my body, learning new skills, meeting new people and getting back ‘out there’ after hiding at home so long.
I hope that strikes a chord with some of you because you are not alone, believe me, and if I can encourage one woman to exercise again, particularly by getting on her bike, then it will all have been worth it.
We left the course at about 5pm and I honestly didn’t want to leave my new friends, I’d have happily stayed chatting for hours (which we did in the college car park), but already they have opened my eyes to the idea that I’m more capable than even I think I am, and if they can cycle 50 miles then there’s no reason why I can’t too. With just the minor point of a massive amount of training of course.
So that’s what really went on on my leadership course. I’m not quite qualified to lead yet as my First Aid course isn’t for another couple of weeks, but already I’m researching how best to plan a new route and I’m thinking about how I can make this work. Until then, I’m going to co-lead the council run ride on Thursday and I’m still bumbling about town on my new bike, instead of driving – the weather is just far too nice to be cooped up in a car.