This story was originally submitted as an entry to our Inspirational Story Competition.

This morning I got up at 5:30am to go out and exercise. That never happens!

Earlier this week I exercised for nearly two hours in one session. That never happens!

Last weekend I shopped online for some lovely new exercise gear. Okay that does happen quite often but normally only boring black lycra gym gear not lovely cycling outfits with watermelons on them!

Yes, I’ve discovered road biking and so far I love it.

I stuck boot camp for a while but they were all super competitive and I found it a bit cliquey.

About 9 months is my usual limit with exercise. I’ve tried loads over the years – most recently Parkrun and then bootcamp. Parkrun was friendly but running is such hard work these days. I’m not in my 20s... er... or my 30s anymore and the pounding is hard on the joints.

I stuck boot camp for a while but they were all super competitive and I found it a bit cliquey. Nobody talks to the slightly overweight out of shape newbie – they were all superfit and intending on staying that way. I endured it because it was good for me rather than enjoyed it. Exercising so that I could eat chips and drink at the weekends, not because I really loved it.

Then my road biking loving boyfriend bought me a bike last Christmas (thanks babe x). I was happy on the turbo trainer for a few months - I was basically frightened of actually going out on the road – god forbid!

I don’t like are potholes the size of quarries and finding out Strava hasn’t recorded my ride... 

I got braver and went out in April and discovered that the things I was afraid of – cars, falling off, and getting a puncture at the furthest point from home – aren’t actually the things I dislike the most. They are all fine (not that I’ve fallen off or got a puncture yet – I’m just not afraid any more). The things I don’t like are potholes the size of quarries, finding out Strava hasn’t recorded my ride because my stupid phone battery ran out, and the ache I get between my thumb and first finger from holding on to the tops and not having enough time to stay out for longer.

I’ve discovered a few other things too:

  • Getting a bug in your eye is like the pain of childbirth - obviously this is not true – nothing is as bad as the pain of childbirth – I do talk from experience. But getting a bug in your eyeball is really bloody painful. Swallowing a bug is less painful but equally gross.
  • Bunny roadkill is much worse close up.
  • Road bikers are a friendly bunch – they wave and shout “Morning!” at you as they pass. Being shouted at cheerfully by a peloton as they whizz past is massively uplifting. One day I might even be fast enough to catch up with their slipstream.
  • Getting Kudos on Strava is a hundred times more thrilling than getting a Like on Facebook.
  • Getting a Strava trophy for a PB is like winning the Tour de France... and by the way the Tour de France is brilliant. I want to go on holiday to France and cycle the whole route. Or maybe just drive it.
  • Cycling gear is lovely – I have already spent at least 3 months of my “well it will be cheaper than paying for gym membership” savings on a Café du Cycliste top that I might just wear out and about without the bike. With thanks to my ace cycling friend Alice who everytime I say “I really can’t afford it – what should I do?” just says “Oh just buy it – it’s gorgeous –and get the gilet too” – she knows me too well. I blame her for the watermelons bib and top combo. But I did buy the matching socks myself.
  • I love “the zone” – the place my head goes to when I’m on my bike – the miles fly by and I feel calm and in control.

I’ve amazed myself that I’ve come so far so quickly.

I wrote this article in my head while on my bike. South Manchester/North Cheshire where I live is pretty flat so I haven’t really discovered the joys of hill climbs yet. But the Peak District is calling and it’s not far away – mentally or geographically. The hills there are big... very big.

In April I entered a 40k race in October to give myself something to train for slowly and steadily – it seemed like a literal mountain to climb. But last weekend I did 40k in an hour and 45 mins on an everyday ride – I’ve amazed myself that I’ve come so far so quickly.

I need another challenge. My boyfriend keeps saying he wants to take me up The Brickworks. I haven’t said yes yet as I’m still not sure it isn’t a euphemism for something else... but maybe I’ll venture over there on my own sometime soon – just to see what a real hill looks and feels like.

Part of the problem is that with a 4 year old to look after we can’t ever go out cycling together. So if anybody lives in South Manchester/North Cheshire and would like to take me up The Brickworks then please get in touch. Preferably a woman – I think it will be less painful...

If I won this competition I’d obviously spend the money on more cycling gear. I probably won’t win – I’m not a writer. But I am now a cyclist and I love it – and like the cycling I’ve enjoyed doing it. And in the early hours of this morning – at a time when I’d normally be curled up under the duvet – five people cheerfully shouted “Morning” at me. And that would never have happened at bootcamp.