Memories: Raid Pyrenean27th January 2021
What Turns Your Wheels?8th March 2021
What Turns Your Wheels?
We've got a new feature for our next few blogs. We have asked some of our previous guests to contribute to a series of guest blogs about their experiences in the world of cycling. Some have chosen to tell the story of their cycling journey, others have focussed on just one of their amazing adventures, but all of them are fantastically motivating reads, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!
Today's feature blog is by Dr Helen Mills who stayed with us for a week in 2019 to watch the Tour de France and cycle up a few mountains. She writes about her experience as a female cyclist... Enjoy!
Throughout my childhood I was always active and rode a bike, but it wasn’t until I met my partner that I took up road cycling and bought my first carbon bike in 2014, aged 35 years. Ste helped me get fit for cycling and gave my loads of tips and encouragement along the way. Six months later it was time to join my local cycling club St Helens CRC. Wow – I remember that first 45-mile ride, pushing myself to my limits… yet all the club members encouraged me, even pushing me up some of the inclines and everyone waited for me at the top of the climbs. There was only one other female, Katie, who rode with the A group and over the years we have become good friends and always look out for each other.
As the weeks went by, I got stronger and enjoyed cycling even more. In the summer months the cycling club would go on longer rides and we’d get to see some beautiful sites and of course enjoy a café stop. Ste and I invested in a caravan and have now accomplished all the climbs in the Lake District. I do climb at a snail’s pace, but who cares as long as you enjoy it! The holidays abroad, the banter and socialising have to be the best bits of cycling for me; away from the tourist hotspots you get to experience so many different cultures and the scenery is spectacular. Best of all though, you really do deserve that beer when you get back to the hotel after a day of cycling…
I do climb at a snail’s pace, but who cares as long as you enjoy it!
In April 2017, I completed the toughest challenge of my life, the Majorca 312 cycling sportive. I rode for 13 hours and 26 minutes, cycled 195 miles, climbed 15,220 feet and rode the last 20 km in the dark. I found the climbs hard as I’m not really built for climbing, yet the views at the top where breath taking and the best bit (apart from crossing the finish line) was descending, reaching a top speed of 45 mph. My motivation to complete the challenge was for my sister Debbi who has progressive MS and to raise money for treatment. This is another advantage of cycling, riding Sportives and raising money for charity.
I’ve visited the Pyrenees in Andorra and France. One of the highlights of my cycling adventures so far has to be watching the Tour De France for my 40th birthday, Ste and I stayed with the amazing hosts and tour guides at Allons-Y Pyrenees, met some wonderful people, climbed some of the Tour routes, watched several stages and had an absolute ball.
In 2017, I started participating in a local chain gang, and over several years I improved and managed to stay with the group of guys and work though, so after lots of encouragement I entered my first race in 2019. As there aren’t many local female races, I entered a male race. Now this does have it’s advantages as the guys do look out for you and offer you lots of guidance. Now I’m not going to lie, I was unbelievably nervous, yet as the adrenalin kicked in and I settled in to the racing I found myself enjoying the buzz. My goal was to finish the race, and each time, try to stick with the guys for a further lap. It’s great to set yourself personal goals and the sense of achievement when you cross the finish line is priceless.
So any females out there who are considering getting in to cycling, I say go for it, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain!
We can't wait to welcome guests back to Allons-y-Pyrenees, and are looking forward to lots of new adventures.
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Want to find out more about our Tour adventures? Check out our blog post here.