I took part in Ride London a couple of years ago. After running the London Marathon, I assumed the natural next step after getting into running was to take up cycling – after all, it’s what all the other keen runners I knew had done, so I would love it as much as them, right?
Errm wrong, unfortunately. I didn’t even have a bike when I signed up to Ride London, but as soon as I got one and started training, I realised I might’ve made a big mistake in thinking this would be ‘my sport’.
All the things I loved about running: the ease of popping on a pair of trainers and running miles, the opportunity to completely switch off while doing it, the fact my body felt naturally able to run – didn’t apply to cycling.
Instead, I seemed to be constantly screaming in frustration trying to fix punctures, panicking that I was going to get squashed by a lorry or dismounting to push my bike up another bloody hill because, try as I might, my legs just COULD NOT cycle me up it.
I know I’m unusual in this – loads of people love cycling and find it relaxing, enjoyable and exhilarating – but the sport just did not hit it off with me, and I remember feeling like a failure for that.
Even when I’d slogged my way round the route, in what, if anyone remembers Ride London 2014, can only be described as a hurricane, I felt bad that deep down I knew I was about to shove my bike into a shed to rust into oblivion.
Hindsight, however, has made me more forgiving. For one thing, I’ve realised that completing a challenge doing a sport that you are basically crap at is perhaps even more of an achievement than smashing out a PB during an event you’re amazing at (to be fair I did get a PB, because I’ll NEVER cycle 100 miles again).
Secondly – not everyone is going to love every sport. You can feel like a bit of a weirdo when everyone else is wanging on about how great something is and you’re sitting there thinking ‘I bloody hate this’, but actually, that’s cool – why waste your time doing an activity you hate?
I’ve accepted now that cycling will just have to go on the list of ‘stuff the rest of the world likes that I don’t get’ along with Sherlock, Jaffa Cakes, jazz music, eating meat, Zumba, Ugg boots, coconut water, Masterchef and Thriller Live – and that’s just fine.