This year’s been ridiculous. What with making the move back to freelancing, living all over the place and eventually buying a house that we’re still in the progress of furnishing, I kind of feel like the year ran away with me and I never really got ‘stuck in’ in quite the way I wanted to. I just can’t really quite believe that we’re at the end of October and that Christmas and New Year are around the corner; I’m still waiting for summer to start - I had so many plans of things I wanted to do.

But looking back over the year, I have done a lot, even if I did only have two barbeques when I’d dreamt of cooking out all summer! One of the major events was starting training and then entering the Red Hook Crit, and both of those things taught me lessons that are relevant in non-cycling life as well. As many cyclists will tell you, cycling is as much cerebral as physical, and this years it’s helped me learn a lot about myself - about what I want, about what I’m capable of and also about hard held beliefs I’ve formed of myself.

So here are the lessons that cycling taught me. Do any of them apply to you?

1.  You can always try harder. Even if you think you’re trying your hardest, you’re not. But don’t think of this as a criticism – I just mean that you’re capable of more than you think you are, so go ahead and push yourself further than you think you can go.

2.  Don’t decide before you’ve even finished that you can’t do something, because you’ll set yourself up to fail. If you hear that voice saying ‘I can’t,’ ignore it and carry on regardless. Try your hardest to believe in yourself.

3.  Just get on with it. Stop procrastinating. Any decision is better than hours spent dithering.

4.  And if the question is ‘should I go for a ride or not,’ the answer is absolutely always ‘yes.’

5.  Bodies are amazing! Be kind to yours, treat it well and you’ll be rewarded.

6.  Try turning left rather than right - sometimes it pays to switch things up and look at life differently. Don’t get stuck in your ways -  there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored and the best place to start is right outside your back door. Start with fresh eyes – most people don’t even know where they live. Get lost on purpose.

7.  Prioritise. There’s never enough time for anything but if you’re passionate about something then you’ll find the time, whether that’s jumping on your bike at silly o’ clock in the morning or blasting out an after work turbo session. Because who are you really kidding – watching another episode of Games of Thrones isn’t exactly vital.

8.  Don’t buy cheap; buy to last and take care of your possessions. Make wise investments rather than filling your shopping trolley with disposable items.

9.  Say hello to everyone! Life is filled with virtual ‘likes’ and thumbs up, but it’s real life interaction that we crave. And if you smile at someone and they ignore you? Just keep on smiling!

10.  There is such a thing as bad weather! I’m sorry, but I just can’t buy into that well-known saying about bad equipment. When it’s raining so hard you can’t actually see where you’re going, it’s time to call it quits and put the kettle on.

11.  There’s always someone slower/faster, bigger/smaller, richer/poorer than you. Be proud but humble.

12.  Be grateful for what you’ve got. Cherish everything, whether it’s the small moments drinking tea with your husband in bed, a fresh autumn morning on the bike or marmite. Because… imagine a world without marmite!

13.  Nothing comes easily. Apart from lottery wins.

14.  And finally? Maybe this one doesn’t cross over into ‘non-cycling’ life in quite the way the others do, but the most important lesson I learned this past weekend? Keep your mouth closed when the person in front of you rides through a puddle!

By Juliet Elliott, photos by Dave Noakes

Treats to Celebrate Life on a Bike