Guest post words and images by Dawn Spendlove
Back Then, a Bike Wasn’t For Girls!
I didn’t have a bike as a kid. I’ve got four older brothers and my earliest memories is them being on mopeds and motorbikes. I can’t remember our house ever having bikes in it. If one kid had wanted one, they all would have wanted one and it would have been too expensive.
By the time I was thirteen, my 3 oldest brothers had moved out leaving me and youngest brother, who was a year older than me at home – this was the first time I remember having a bike around and obviously as it was the 80’s it was a BMX. I would have a go on the BMX occasionally, but as I’m way taller than my bro I looked slightly draft on such a small bike and anyway I much preferred roller boots as my mode of transport. Back then, a bike wasn’t a cool thing for girls, all the boys had BMXs or Choppers but the girls just walked around. Bikes were just not something that came in to my life.
Bands, Boys and Bikes
When I met Steven, I was thirteen and he had a road bike. I was in a marching band (yes, we went to band camp!) and we used to go all over the county competing. Every Sunday, Steven and his mates would follow the band bus on their road bikes to wherever we were going and spend the day with us. One of my earliest memories of biking was looking out of the back of the band bus and thinking, “Oh, we’ve lost them!” But they were so close to the bus that we couldn’t see them! I remember the group camaraderie that they had, silly little things like all the cyclists nodding and putting a hand up. It was like a secret little group that I wasn’t a part of.
Bikes for exercise never really crossed my mind as I played hockey from leaving school until last year so that was my passion. Twice a week training, Saturday games and tournaments and it’s where my greatest friendships have come from. Hockey was a constant for over twenty years and something that I excelled in so when I stopped playing, I needed something to take over that.
Steven and I had mountain bikes that we’d toddle about on at weekends on different trails locally. I was never serious about it and I never saw it as exercise. It was either a mode of transport or a fun way to spend a day.
Then, about 12 years ago, I started having serious problems with my back. The hip problem started after I had my daughter, Katie who’s nearly 13. It’s a hip and pelvis issue, it is tilted and twisted, off to one side. I see two chiropractors, one is therapeutic, the other is a blunt South African who tells it like it is. If I’ve put weight on, he’ll tell me about it! I kept having time out from hockey and long periods where I couldn’t play. When you’re playing hockey, you’re forever on an angle. My chiropractors suggested biking because it’s a really good way of building your muscles and getting some exercise. With the issue I’ve got with my hip, it should really help it because I’m straight on a bike.
I joined up with a group of friends and we started going out regularly. Rides ended up being three or four hours and we’d have afternoon tea or go for breakfast. It became really sociable. I found it was a different kind of release to find a really steep hill and get up it. I’m one of those people who’ll have a go at anything.
I like the way I can push against my anxiety with cycling and challenge myself. I’m not very good down hills, I brake quite a bit. I’m trying to go longer without braking now! I can’t just not touch the brake. I’m not sure if that’s because I worry too much and think about consequences or if that’s quite a healthy fear. I’ve not been out on my own and I think that’s something that I need to do.
On Finding a New Gear in Lock-down
Then, at the start of lock-down, my love of cycling hit a new gear (pun intended). I started road biking with the hubby and have not looked back, (because if I did I’d fall off!). For three months now we have been getting up at the crack of dawn (tee-hee) 2-3 times a week, covering anything from 20-40 miles each time and have taken in some of Derbyshire’s most stunning scenery and views. A massive plus is my back and hips and holding up well and I’ve lost a stone. I still can’t have a drink whilst going uphill and still bottle it down steep hills but I am absolutely loving being in the saddle.
My spending habits have certainly changed I’ve not purchased any new heels in 4 months (a first in my adult life) BUT I have just had some new slip-in shoes and a new helmet delivered! So, on to my next challenge – which is to go out on my own on the roads as I’ve not done that yet… If you don’t hear from me for quite a while I’ll be lost on a back road somewhere up Crich way!
Many thanks to Dawn Spendlove at Love Marketing for sharing your story. Please contact Ruth at Good Apple Copy if you have a story to share. Ruth McIntosh: email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the “contact me” form at goodapplecopy.com