Cycletta Report

I woke up Sunday morning feeling ready to spew, the usual nervous routine! I choked down a bowl of porridge while trying not to look at Gareth and Gillian's cooked breakfasts… the sight of scrambled eggs and greasy sausages was totally giving me the boak!

Off to lovely Tatton Park. There were over 800 women taking part in Cycletta on all manner of bikes. We started in waves of ten. I did a cheerful "woohoo!' as we whizzed over a cattle grid then down through the park, sunlight streaming through the tree-lined paths. Then out onto the big bad open road!

First two miles were fast and fun, grinning to myself at the visual of chunky me on clunky mountain bike and tiny Gillian on her tiny Brompton folding bike.

Then Gillian says, "We're going pretty fast, don't overdo it now!". Good advice, whoops! I felt awful during Miles 4-6. My rubbish knee burned on every downstroke, I had that shooting pain in my glute and my stomach felt dodgy. I couldn't take my eyes off the bike computer, doing fractions to figure out how far there was to go.

Then a bunch of speedy women whooshed past in the opposite direction, already on their way back to the finish line (part of the course was a loop). They yelled "KEEP GOING!" in such cheery tones I wanted to slap them. Then I got overtaken by a woman on a poncy bike with a freakin' wicker basket!

"Well isn't that just DANDY!" I sputtered to Gillian, feeling really really cranky and lardy.

Then I remembered that I'd vowed to enjoy the moment as it was happening, instead of having to enjoy it retrospectively as I always do with these things! So I had stern talk with self… Dude… you've travelled a stupid long way for this and you have dragged your friend and husband with you, and you trained for ages and people have sponsored you and do you REALLY want to look like a whiny brat… so SUCK IT UP cupcake! Turn this around!

I made a conscious effort to look at the scenery, feel the air on my skin, notice how strong my legs felt, just really ABSORB everything going on… thinking about how good it felt not to be sitting brooding on the couch wishing life could be different.

We got to Mile 9 and I said to Gillian, "Make a note! Mile 9 and I'm enjoying it!"

Mile 10 was a food stop. I really didn't want to stop but I needed the loo. Admired my beetroot face in the port-a-loo mirror. They had lots of crappy chocolate and sweets which I avoided (memories of dodgy stomach at Moonwalk '08!) and had some orange segments instead… lovely!

The remaining 14 miles were BLOODY FANTASTIC. Sure I was dying on some of the hills, I hesitated too long at an intersection and nearly got barrelled by a car, my chain came off at mile 15, I got stung by a wasp at mile 16…

Wasp Sample only. Not actual wasp.

…but I felt so alive and kept thinking, enjoy this enjoy this enjoy this. We rolled past quaint pubs, cottages with thatched roofs and climbing roses, wholesome people on horses… and a dead badger. Poor bugger. Oooh, and I even overtook a few people!

"Make a note!" I yelled to Gillian, "Mile 22 and still loving it!"

Finally we were back in the Park! There was a sneaky bit where we thought it was over but there was another half mile loop to go… my knee was sore and I felt like I'd been kicked in the lady parts, despite padded saddle and padded shorts and a naturally padded arse. But then I saw the finish line! I was woohooing like a deranged woman. FINISHED!

Dr G was waiting nearby. "Soooo?"

"IT WAS BRILLIANT!"

He looked absolutely stunned. "Well! Never thought I would ever hear such a positive statement out of you while straddling a velocipede!" Bwahahaaaaa. Smart arse.

I looked at my bike computer: 02:01:39, average 11.8 mph! Sooo much faster than my training… all thanks to lack of Scottish hills + unbridled enthuasism ;)

Then I got a text with my official time: 40km/24miles in 02:10:24 – of course the bike computer paused while I was on loo break/chain fixing/wasp swatting. Still… SO PLEASED with that as the snaily pace of my training rides indicated a 2.5 – 3 hour finish.

Cycletta was a great event, very well organised. It was heartening to see so many women across a wide range of ages, shapes and cycling experience – it was a very welcoming, non-intimidating atmosphere. I'd been really worried after the event lost its closed roads status, but the marshalls made it feel very safe.

But most of all I owe the feeling of safety to The Amazing Gillian. 24 miles is a warmup for her so she just freakin' rocks for coming along and helping me not get run over. Thank you so much comrade! Also have to say a huge thank you to Gareth, for not stabbing me on the training rides. You rawk!

So, I'm really happy with how it went and glad I got over my internal BS and enjoyed it while it was happening!

Afterthoughts…
Three days later I'm still feeling delirious and so fired up to keep going. I want to keep working on my Fear Of The Road and my inability to do hand signals. I also feel a new sense of purpose for getting back in shape – it's hard work hauling so much booty up the hills, I tell you.

It sounds so cheesy and perhaps quite pathetic, but this experience has reminded me that I am worth taking care of. That life is so much better when you treat your mind and body with kindness and respect, not dulling the edges with rubbish food and inactivity. It takes work to feel good, but I'm feeling like I am worth making that effort.

Why has it taken so long to remember this? To really feel it and believe it deep down? I really don't know. But I'm going to roll with it!

Me
Disclosure: I was offered a "media place" on the Cycletta event thus my entry fee was waived. Click here for full details.

ETA: While I added a cheeky link in the post above, I wanted to shout out properly that I raised a few quid for the MS Society. Huge thanks to my family and pals who sponsored! If anyone out there fancies supporting this great cause, here's my link to donate. You can find out more about the work the Society does to provide information and support as well as funds for multiple sclerosis research on their website, www.mssociety.org.uk.

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37 thoughts on “Cycletta Report

  1. Has no one else commented yet? What a great recap of a great day by a great woman! I felt I was on the course with you. I remember reading about your fear of even getting on a bike, years ago, and look at you now. Woo hoo!

  2. Brilliant effort on surviving the ride Shauna!

    I still can’t help but chuckle at you and the wasp!

    If I’d have been anywhere near you when that happened, I fear I would have been laughing too hard to ride!;o)

  3. From Spew to Brilliant! Wonderful!!! Amazing what we can do if we put our minds to it!

    You ARE worth it!!!

  4. You look like you’re having such a good time in that photo What an acheivement! I hate cycling, so am VERY impressed. I come from Macclesfield (near Tatton); it is lovely round there.

  5. And you RAWK, woman!!! That was a brilliant ride. The riding, yes, but moreso the talking to and the decision to make it different :) Love your work!

  6. Awesome work babe!!! It looks like fun!! Going to have another go next year? Ali thinks she’s talked me into it ;)

    Enjoy this high you’ve worked so hard for xxx

  7. hahaha … I feel a bit bad cause I didn’t spot you were so grumpy in the first bit – I was behind you so I couldn’t see any looks of fury. Though I did wonder why you were so mad at the lady-with-basket :-)

    But – we passed loads of people! Going uphill!

    And 11.8mph is a bloody good time – Judy says to tell you she was pleased to do that average herself on Saturday cause she was riding a heavy bike.

    Anyway, magic fun, and we have to go cycling again soon!

  8. Congratulations! I’m learning to cycle at the moment and you’ve inspired me to take part next year.

    I am SO impressed you kept going after being stung by a wasp – it happened to me for the first time on Sunday and I didn’t realise how painful wasp stings are.

    And as for “life is so much better when you treat your mind and body with kindness and respect, not dulling the edges with rubbish food and inactivity” – I couldn’t agree more. Finally realising this after a long two years of neglecting myself.

  9. I can’t believe you got stung by a wasp and still had an amazing ride! You look fabulous on that bike. Here’s to many more great rides. :)

  10. Look how cute you are in that photo! You look completely at ease, like you just rode around the park, la la la… not like someone who endured insect attack and boaking peril! Good on you, you know how fabulously awesome it is that you did this <3

  11. This is such a great post Shauna! I’ve done a number of long walks(and hope to do some really long ones in the future), and you so capture the issue: I bitch constantly while I’m doing it, but then decide in retrospect how amazing it was. Love, love, love this post!

  12. You ARE so worth it! Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment! You should feel super proud of yourself! :o)

  13. Hooray! Shauna, sometimes it feels like you are reading my mind. After I finished my UAR workout today, I was thinking a lot of the same things you mention above — it’s hard work to feel good, but so worth it. Why do I always forget that?! Rock on — so glad to hear the event went well!!!

  14. Oh! Yaaaay!!!! I love this post. It’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately myself…like I really need to learn that I’m worth it.

    Also, I did something huge today. I biked to my husband’s work. This is the first time I’ve gone by myself since I’ve never been very confident on the bike. It went well, and I enjoyed it. I hope you continue to have such a great time on your bike!

  15. Shauna-
    I am SO SO SO happy for you. I am so glad you got the BS out and were able to “enjoy the ride”, (one of my favorite sayings).
    You look adorable in that photo and so happy. There must be more, please share.

  16. you so freaking rock, girl!!!
    All the hard work totally paid off and being stung by a wasp would have been my “get out of jail free” card, if you ask me.
    And you kept going!!

    I’m seriously seriously impressed by the amazing attitude you’ve had throughout the whole process. Not giving up is the new black ^_^

  17. I’ve been looking forward to reading your account of Cycletta. Really great job. I think your last paragraph really says it all, Shauna! That is so true. When you get up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror, you should know that the woman you are looking at is an inspiration to other women. Not too shabby. On a side note, Tatton Park brought back some memories- Russ and I used to go to a VW show there every year when we were living in Lancs. :)

  18. Congrats! Love that photo, love the words.

    Squishy saddles are the work of the devil, by the way, especially for women. They’re the reason it felt uncomfortable. They spread the load around all the soft tissue instead of concentrating it on the “sit-bones”, where it’s supposed to be. A nice firm saddle would feel horrible for the first mile, but way better for the next 20.

    Also, get skinny tyres! Even on an MTB. I use Schwalbe City Jets.

  19. Thanks for your comments everyone! :)

    Re the wasp, I’d been taking antihistamines for hayfever so I think that really lessended the impact of the bitey bugger!

    Hiya Keith! :) I’ve used a firm saddle and it was total agony! The “ladies seat” I bought has been absolutely brilliant, it was only the last two mile that gave me trouble and I think that’s to do with my size and my inability to sit properly on the bike – I always have a tendency to move forward!

  20. Hooray! Congratulations Shauna! I haven’t been on a bike since I was in my teens and am now terrified of the idea of cycling on the road so I am super impressed!

  21. Oh man well done you! I can’t get over how awesome you look with that huge smile on your face, you look SO HAPPY and the happiness certainly came over in your writings :) Go you!!! Awesome!

  22. Hi, I couldn’t stop myself delurking when I heard that you were experiencing knee pain on your bike – I too have knee issues and it turned out that getting my saddle adjusted properly pretty much resolved them. Rule of thumb: seat too high = pain behind the knee; seat too low = pain at the front of the knee.

    I can also vouch for a harder seat; it hurts in the beginning as you get used to it but then – voila – no more dead crotch syndrome. It took me years to let go of my cushy seat however, so I understand your reluctance :-)

    Love your blog, thanks for sharing your adventures!

  23. I’m *so* pleased to hear you got your arse out there and enjoyed it. Take that, inner BS. Way to go, and here’s to more two-wheeled achievements! :) :)

  24. CHEERS DUDES!

    @Steph – Thanks for delurking and for your tips! You’ve convinced me, I’ll have to give the harder seat another go and stop being such a wuss! :) The knee thing is from a pre-existing injury, I’d aggravated it earlier in the week from jumping around and dancing a bit too enthusiastically. It usually behaves as long as I remember to track it straight when pedalling!

  25. You are sooo awsome Shauna – what an inspiring read! I barely have the commitment to leave comments these days. You are a star *

  26. You are so awesome Shauna – what an inspiring read!
    Sunlight streaming through the tree-lined paths, cycling is fun! I am impressed that you kept going after being stung by a wasp. I knew it was not easier to overcome the painful physically. But hi well done, you manage it very well, keep going on cycling sport and you will lose more weight. I also like the fact that how you consider healthy issue in the first place, such as not having those junk food. Your story flashes on me, I get courage by seeing another woman who is also liked the sport of cycling. I did lose 4kg on cycling too in the past. Sagging skin around tummy got a lot more firm. It is a bit shame due to busy I do not go on cycling much now. But hi, since after I read your story, I can not wait for weekend coming again. Let’s go… Cycling! :D