At age 5 I was a Barbie Racer. A vision in pink, legs going like pistons as I drifted around the corners on my stabilisers. Michal Guerra eat your heart out. 20 years later, I started commuting 36km a day. In between, nothing. Except the Cycling Proficiency course that gave me a dread of invisible hazards around every corner. And a short flirtation with a Pitango from Gumtree, which was described as a ‘fashion-friendly’ bike – no need to tell you how long that lasted in a pothole-ridden London.
By India Clare
Last Summer, the cycling desires crept back. I was on a Scottish Highland Roadtrip with my Dad; at the Ferry queues, you could not see for MAMILs, (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) – they were everywhere. In the evenings, even when they were not lycra-clad, they were identifiable by the distinct lack of melanin around their eyes and foreheads – a side effect of helmets and sunglasses.
Watching them in the hotel bar, exchanging almost imperceptible head nods, I noticed there was an air of complete calm and ease around these travellers, a feeling I craved.
After hours of battling the hotel’s unreliable WiFi my heart was set on a Canyon Endurace WMN AL Disc 6.0. Two weeks later it was in my Mum’s dining room. This in itself felt like a triumph; many failed Cycle2Work applications taught me that patience is a virtue and I don’t possess it.
Bike, lights, lock and helmet acquired. I was ready to start my 36 km a day commute.
The first morning was a baptism by fire. All the cycling proficiency fears came back to me and I thought, ‘why have I done this?’ The second morning, it was easier. The third, almost enjoyable. The fourth, I thought I was flying and asked Chris Froome to race me on Strava – an endorphin high, if ever I’ve seen one. I’ve kept it on my profile in case he does ever see it and fancies a spin around Richmond Park. Chris, hit me up, my dude!
Since that first ride, I have joined a cycle club, and multiple Sigma Sports orders later at least I look the part. I even post my rides on Instagram. ‘Who on earth has she become!?’, I hear you all cry, as it is definitely not just my Mother reading this. The truth is, I have no idea. But what I am sure of, is that cycling has the most welcoming community of any sports I’ve ever enjoyed. It’s brought the nicest parts out of every cycling buddy I have come across. The patience, encouragement and enthusiasm shown to me has been overwhelming. My only regret? Not starting sooner.
About India Clare:
India only started cycling in November 2020 and is already hooked on it. She plans to spend the Summer exploring the UK’s bikepacking trails including the Hebridean Way. India wants to encourage more women to get on their bikes and find more female cycling communities in London. Enough reason to follow her endeavors @indjaninja!