I was 15 when I first rode a bike and while it might seem like quite a late age to have picked up cycling, I was proud that I had finally learned to ride a bike. As a kid I would learn with stabilizers but somehow ‘never got round’ to learning to ride. It might be because in the middle of my transition into cycling I was abused and bullied, which made me forget everything I had learned and when it came to a Year Six ‘cycling proficiency test’ I was one of the few ones to sit out the test, because I didn’t know how to ride a bike. Then again cycling wasn’t the only form of sport or exercise that I had learned late, swimming too, which I learned by the age of 13-14. But I digress; between the ages of 10-16 my foster mum would take me down the caravan with her to the beautiful village of West Wittering, near Chichester in Sussex and while most residents cycled everywhere, I walked with my baby foster sister and her buggy in tow.
My foster mum had a friend called P who was so charming and all the residents loved her. When I turned 15, she offered to teach me how to ride a bike and within 30 minutes I learned how to cycle. It was so crazy because I spent so much time being afraid of ‘riding a bike’ that I would balk whenever anyone would dare suggest it to me and all for nothing too. My issue is that I am often my own worst critic and being scared of ‘failure’ or getting laughed at made me feel vulnerable and scared. I needn’t have worried and within half an hour I was cruising around the park on a battered bike and I felt freedom. The wind was whipping through my hair and I felt giddy as I took my first leaps into the cycling world. But the newfound love for cycling was short lived and after a few rides afterwards, I have not touched another bike since.
They say that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget but there is still some part of me that is a little freaked about riding a bike again. I know I am being silly but as a result of my anxiety and depression disorders, I often find it difficult to ‘re-visit’ things that I have might have ‘failed at’ in the past, because I am scared of the same outcome. Which is why when Brompton challenged me to share my cycling story, writing my childhood narrative made me realize that if I can do it once then who the hell says I can’t do it again? After all once a warrior always a warrior right? Besides being able to challenge yourself, especially with an anxiety disorder will show me how much I loved cycling back then and how much it can be part of my life right now. In one way it would save money on transport; I spend over £150 on travel each month and being able to cycle to work would not only save me a few extra pennies but it would also ensure that I get exercise too.
While I work long hours, much of my work does not involve ‘active movement’ i.e. running, although I do a lot of walking. If I had a bike of my own, it might actually push me to do a more exciting form of exercise that dosent involve just lifting weights in the gym. When it comes to keeping fit I not only want to test my physical limitations but I also want to boost my self confidence as well as learning how to be kind to myself with a good self-care routine. I know that I am admittedly lax when it comes to exercise and while I might ‘appear’ active, I do spend a lot of hours typing in front of a computer screen which is never good for your posture and activity levels. Having signed myself up to some ‘personal training’ sessions – watch this space- I feel like the next step is to get out there and confront my fears head on. After all if I can combat depression, anxiety and an abusive past then who says I can’t get back on that active grind? Roller Derby and Yoga might have been something I had tried in the past but now I have my eyes firmly set on the cycling prize?
Are You An Avid Cyclist? If So What Is It About Cycling That Makes You Feel Happy?
Please note this is a collaborative post with lightweight bike specialist Brompton who challenged me to put forward either a cycling wishlist or a story centered around exercise and cycling.
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