I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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My cycling memoirs

By  CJ Boom     15:11     
I signed up to the Rapha Women's 100 Facebook page  and was reading through the comments and noticed a few had queried how exactly they should kick start their riding and build to the 100k target.

Got me thinking of how I started cycling and how it lead to buying my first proper carbon road bike to now being able to leap onto a bike and choose the lanes I love to cycle through.

I had my bike at university that ended up covered in stickers but a catalyst to me wanting a bike at university was going on my very first cycling holiday with my dad and my sister. I can't remember exactly how old I was, I think between 14-16. We were due to drive to Felixstowe and get on our bikes and cycle onto the ferry, cycle off at the other end at Rotterdam port.
The night before Dad had put the bikes on the roof of the car ready for our early start. At three in the morning I heard our front door open and then slam and the lights came on. My sister met me on the landing and we were totally bemused about what was going on. Dad appeared at the bottom of the stairs in his claret red dressing gown and explained that my bike has been stolen.

I can't remember if I was upset or not. If that had happened to me now, in 2013, well, my heart just sinks even thinking about it hypothetically.
The holiday was booked and we ended up going in the car to Felixstowe. I can't remember if I walked onto the Ferry or I used another bike.
When we got to the other end, we met the organiser of the ride and they had a spare bike. The kind of bike that any 14 year would be gutted to receive. It is akin to the back up car that the presenters of top gear are threatened with should the vehicles they have purchased for a challenge completely fail.
It was a Trek T10 (I think). I remember looking very girlie and not cool like my sister's mountain bike with aggressive geometry and slick tyres and yellow branding.

Anyways my sister and I got on and road it together from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, roughly fifteen a day with little stops in between where Dad would buy us chips. The route was as flat, we stayed in a castle one night, passed numerous windmills and when we arrived in Amsterdam we had lunch on the roof of a museum.

Then I didn't really do any cycling of note for years.

C. 2005 I'm in my second year at university I had a skinny tubed, narrowed handlebar road going bike-esq-thing. I used it to go shopping and lectures and to the train station.
My weekly Dance-a-cise classes were going well and we'd nearly learnt the whole Thriller routine, ready for a bit end of term finale. I decided I wanted to be more activity but not be bound by attending a weekly class.

I knew this lad, who was a friend of a friend and he live down the seafront in Worthing. So I thought I'd cycle to Worthing and if I got into trouble, I could knock on his door and ask for a biscuit.
So I cycled from where I lived in Brighton along the cycle path to Worthing, 19km.
When I arrived at the pier I felt pretty happy with myself.
A sat for a bit, thinking I'd need some rest before I try & cycle the 19km back.

The following week I did it again. Though this time I decided I needed a reason to go, as sort of motivation. I can't remember why, but I knew the lad in Worthing liked cats (don't we all!) so I printed out a picture of a cat and wrote a message on the back.
I cycled to Worthing and put it through the letterbox.
I did it again another week and again with different pictures of fat ginger cats, talking about how they like to grind up mice and put it in their tea.
The more I rode the faster I became, the quicker I would complete my missions. I even saw Zoe Ball playing tennis once whilst out on my cycling/cat missions.

Then I got tired of doing that, so I stopped cycling to Worthing, decided to find a different longer route.
A few weeks later I saw my friend in a lecture. At a dull point in a seminar I told them about the cat letter secret missions. Turns out the lad from Worthing, Kev, lived below a lass with a ginger cat. He thought the letters were sort of strange advancements towards him, using her cat as a communication channel.

I like to think my love of cats and emerging fondness of cycling yielded a happy partnership in the end. But I will never know.

When I graduated a year later, my mum gave me £500 as a reward. I put it towards the purchase of a carbon road bike to go faster and further on two wheels.

So, where should you start. Cycle where you are comfortable, cycle where you can get away from traffic, use a bicycle lane, make little targets. Then after a few weeks you'll want to start going further a field. Exploring and finding a hill to speed up or down.
It worked for me and now I've ridden all over the world. Over big mountains in the Dolomites to the sand dunes of a Belgium cyclocross race.



About CJ Boom


1 comment:

  1. Cycling can be learned and loved. Through sharing your bike memoirs, you serve as an inspiration to aspiring individuals. Thanks!