I never thought that at the age of 44 I would be buying my first road bike in September 2019, a Liv Avail Advance 3, full carbon, hydraulic disc brakes and tubeless set up, a far cry from my green Raleigh Grifter that I had as a kid.
I have always enjoyed riding a bike but never really had the confidence to ride on the roads.
It wasn’t until 2016 that I bought a new hybrid bike and started to go out on short rides up to and around the local Memorial Park. In October 2016 I fell off my bike and it knocked my confidence, so I didn’t ride again until April 2017. It was at this point that I decided to join a local group that I found on Facebook called Slow Roll Coventry and I started to slowly build up my mileage, I then started doing rides through the HSBC Let’s Ride programme and my longest ride was 20 miles from Coombe Abbey out to Lutterworth and back.
At the end of 2018 I had signed up for the Birmingham Velo for 2019 for the 100 miles and knew that I needed to start to train, so I signed up for the Starley Sportive for the 63 miles long route. The day before the event I decided that I wanted to change over to cleats and had already got my first pair of cycling shoes MTB and pedals, SPD. With the help of Simon from Albany Cycles in Earlsdon I was soon set up on the trainer and learning the art of cleats.
I was excited and nervous about my first event as I had never done anything like this before. I had already downloaded the route so that I wouldn’t get lost. On the morning of the event it was very cold at the start line and I was unsure if I had enough layers on to keep warm, but the forecast was good for the time of year, so fingers crossed.
Once we had set off, I was still getting used to my cleats and as we got towards Hatton I missed a right hand turn and went to stop and forgot to unclip and down I went, fortunately I was going slow and only my pride was hurt. I then had another 2 fails but managed to stay upright on those occasions.
Myself and my cycling buddy Barrie were now making our way to the first food station and I was looking forward to some food and a stop, however we hit the steep hill at I think Temple Grafton. I was riding behind my friend when he accidentally unclipped and rather than me wanting to stop on a hill in cleats as I didn’t know how, I tried to keep on going but couldn’t quite make it. As I tried to unclip I rolled backwards and again went over with a bit of a bang, but I soon got back on and carried on. I think I got over excited at the food station and ate a bit too much and I thought I would see it all again, but I was fine.
The weather was fantastic and the scenery along the route was amazing and we stopped for a couple of selfies along the way. I had asked my Mum and Dad if they could meet me at the finish line and I was so delighted that about ½ mile from the finish I heard a beep of a car horn and when I turned round it was my parents waving and smiling at me. We all met back at HQ for a cup of tea and much deserved piece of cake and to collect our timing chip times. I finished in 5 hrs 9 mins riding time and an average speed of 12.3 mph, not bad seeing as only a year before I was probably averaging 9 mph. I’ve now signed up for 2020 for the epic route, so see you all next year.
Written by Heidi Jarvis.