Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

Yay!!  I did it at last! I cycled alone all the way to training. My personal trainer takes all the credit. He reckons the fourteen miles we did the other day worked. It also helped that they showed us this route. He’s right but trying to manoeuvre my bike in the boot or on the back seats wasn’t easy. Some of the spokes and mudguards got bent and the front reflector broke off.  I got fed up with dismantling and assembling the bike in and out of the car. So remembering his stern words Get on yer bike! from last week, I just got on it and rode.


journey-1Here are photos of my journey. Turning right out of my house instead of left avoids the high street. Cycled down the slope braking quite hard, then slowing right down so I could see left and right long before I actually reached this junction. No traffic was coming, so I continued straight across. Up the slope to another junction and turned left …


journey2 straight across,  positioning myself correctly,  through the gap of this road block and then… 







 it’s a very straight, flat, quiet, residential road parallel to the high street. It’s narrow so when cars approached either on the opposite side or behind, I slow down and/or go into a gap between the parked cars ( although my trainer says not to because you can’t be seen!)…





 …turn left through the gap in yet another road block. Then turn right into a short residential road, cross two more quiet junctions, turn right again, cycle along another long residential road until there’s a dead end (railway) and turn left.  





 Cycle up a gentle incline and then….there’s the high street!  But traffic lights just to the left were on red so I continued to cycle quickly, turning right and maintaining my position assertively in the middle of the road. I saw a bus waiting  to cross from the minor road to the major road at the second junction…



 …the bus driver stared at me and then smiled.  He seemed to be quite amused and waited the few seconds for me to cross this junction and up the slight incline to the cycle path that was on the pavement!   This is the start of the multi-lane carriageway. turned right to cross at the traffic lights, walked the bike across a narrow short bridge ….



 …and then down this ramp.  The descent is quite steep and circular, so I walked the bike down… 









 …cycled along this alleyway, (probably a bit dodgy at night), through another short underpass, right at the end, cycled up yet another grassy incline…  






…to emerge from the underpass on the other side of the motorway. Cycled along a quiet road and then finally, arrival at training where the learners and instructors welcomed me with expressions of surprise and delight that I ditched the car and rode my bicycle to training…


and it wasn’t that bad after all!  My confidence must be growing…

Killer Hills


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trainingToday was an excellent day. I took more account of the weather so I didn’t have to strip off  but I couldn’t wear my lovely hat that matched my jacket because of the helmet! Anyway neither were there any hills but more left and right turns from minor to major roads.  Thank God.  I bemoaned the hills last week but as ever they were very encouraging and said I was too hard on myself.  It was my first time, after all.


I felt so confident doing the ‘t’ loop;  that is moving out and positioning a metre from the middle lane, turning right, signalling right, making choices about the traffic, positioning correctly at the junction, accelerating, slowing down again to do a U turn and turning left. Then repeating the whole thing for hours. 


Sometimes I didn’t even stop at the junction, just went straight across because no traffic was coming. Even if traffic was coming, I’d judge how far/speed and do a U-turn and signal right before they caught up with me!  I even got an ‘excellent’ from the instructors. Wow and wow again!!


I told them about my knees and got a lesson in revolutions!  You have to demonstrate. You have to show me because I have no idea what you’re talking aboutSo one instructor held the bike steady, I got on and put one  foot on one pedal and he indicated that the knee and something on the bike(can’t remember what) should be horizontal or was that 90 degrees.  No, I think it was the knee and the ‘thing’ on the bike should be at 90 degree… that revolutions is how many full turns the pedal does (?).


They elaborated on pedalling by pushing downstroke or was it by pointing the toes forward and pushing back?  Also something about pedalling fast/slow in conjunction with gears. I should have (???) per minute revolutions!  Mmmm… Right… Okay.  That’s more research to do to fully understand the implications of what they were saying.


thames-pathThen we went for a ride through the back streets and back to the base via the Thames where I got up some speed for a few seconds (!) with the instructors and also managed to stand up over a sleeping policeman.  Well pleased with myself today!

Uphill Slog Part 2

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bandstandI fell off the bike today.    Only my pride was hurt though!  But still, even though this wasn’t serious, I’m reluctant to wear a helmet! 

Weekly cycle lesson had been cancelled so I went to Battersea Park, the sister park to Dulwich Park. It’s nestled on the south side between Albert and Chelsea Bridges in the heart of inner city London.

pagodaThere’s a myraid of things to do but I was extremely disappointed to walk around for nearly two hours trying to find the cycle hire place but instead found everything else. 

I walked past the Bandstand (above), Pagoda (left), frozen lakes and swans, people playing tennis & football in minus 3 degree weather, The Pumphouse, various frosted gardens, empty children’s zoo, cafe, loads of joggers along the Thames several times! I was going round and round in circles but it was also annoying because of the time limit in the car park and there were no signposted directions to bicycle hire shop.

All the ‘you are here’ maps of the park  indicated bicycle hire, the same company as in Dulwich Park.  But I couldn’t find it. I could never read a map!

Ever had that experience where you ask someone the way and they send you in the wrong direction.  Its just up there, pass the Arena, you can’t miss it.  Well I did miss it!  Several times.

One thing I noticed though, was the abundance of  ‘no cycling’ signs!  How ridiculous. What’s the point of  having a cycle hire in the park, if you’re limited to the perimeter.

Finally, nearly two hours later, I found  the shop, London Recumbents, but the time limit on the car park was up. The sales assistant expressed concerns that they were not included on any signs at this popular park. So it wasn’t just my lack of map reading skills after all! 

Disappointed, I decided to go to Dulwich Park as it was on my way home.  Pleased as punch to be on a bicycle again, I seemed  to have gained more confidence and went of the main paths onto the gravel.  As I turned left, something moved in the dustbin just on the grassy corner. Not even a second later, something jumped out. Startled,  I lost my grip and tumbled off  the bike.  No one was around. I wasn’t hurt and got up straight away. When I looked, it was a squirrel jumping out of the dustbin!  Then another and another. Pesky squirrels.  Still they looked cute!

Hope the lessons are on for next week.

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 Cycle and eat Tiramisu!



That’s what I did and the depression lifted.  For some strange reason, I woke up this morning feeling depressed for little apparent reason.  I cannot say why, I was just depressed, moody and fed up.

However, I forced myself out of bed, drove around aimlessly until I came to Dulwich Park.  Although I used to pass it every single day on my way to work, I had never been inside.  I decided to walk in the park for some exercise and surprisingly enough, on this minus 3 freezing day, lots of families and people were out enjoying the bitterly cold weather.

Even more suprisingly, I happened upon, by chance a Cycle Hire Shop in the grounds called London Recumbents Ltd! Couldn’t believe my luck! What a coincidence!  Quite a few people and children were having loads of fun on these strange looking bikes that I’ve never seen before.  They were so funny!

I got up  the courage to hire a cycle  on my own for £7.00 for an hour and rode around in the bitter cold, passing the frozen lake, the frost tipped manicured gardens, a large mansion type dwelling that housed the cafe, children’s playground, numerous gravel and smooth paths and tennis courts, several times.  

I must get proper gloves. The tips of my fingers were frozen off, they felt like icicles but after about 30 minutes they warmed up. Then it was my feet that caught the icy cold frost!  But I was particularly pleased that this was my first time riding a bike alone.  It was great fun! 

At home I brought some Tiramisu from Sainsburys, put it in a wine glass and ate it slowly, savouring every moment and my achievement.  Delicious and no more depression!

A Tumble

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women-cyclingjpegHooray!! I passed Level 2.

Wrapped up warmly with my new thermals, thick jumper, overcoat, two pairs of socks, boots, scarf and a hat under my helmet, I turned up at Cycle Training, the last week before Christmas.  I was the only one, alone at Christmas, the last lesson before the holidays, and guess what? I got to choose what to do.  Jumping around like an excited pupppy, I asked to go on the Thames  riverfront. I was delighted and I had three, yes three instructors all to myself!

I lead the way! Behind me, Jake shouting out instructions as usual. We set off along the dual carriageway in the cycle lane, pass the speeding cars, then along the High Street pass the parked cars, stopping in the correct position at the traffic lights, to the right of the buses, cycled straight ahead (hey, I can cycle in a straight line!) pass the roundabout and up a slight hill but then, I had to stop as I was getting very hot and tired. What a lack of stamina! 

I made an excuse that my gears wouldn’t change to a lower gear so I could have a rest.  I took off my jumper and hat and Jake put it in his panniers.  This week was not as cold as the week before. You can never tell what the weather is going to be like!  Cycling certainly warms you up.

We cycled for what felt like miles, came across a huge roundabout where I was supposed to signal right but for some reason my hands were stuck to the handlebars.  Jake then took the lead and we passed industrial looking buildings and came upon the path for the riverfront. 

I was knackered.  I had to dismount and push the bike up the short slope to get to the riverfront.  Get on the bike. Come on. You can do. They encouraged me but it was to no avail, I determinedly pushed the bike up the slope. 

Jake then said I was cycling too fast about 13 mph along the main roads. What I should have done is cycle about 10 mph and then I would be able to cycle longer and not get so tired until I build up my stamina.  But cycling on the major roads was quite nerve wrecking. Although I felt both excited at the element of danger (!) and thrilled, there, I didn’t want to hold the cars up so I tried to cycle quickly.

Along the riverfront was definitely more relaxing.  It was the first time I had been out that way. I could slow down, enjoy the view, enjoy cycling, enjoy exploring. No traffic, just one or two joggers and other cyclists along the gravel and then tarmaced paths. Jake laughed when I said it was a long way – about eight miles in total.  That’s absolutely nothing to him but anyway I was knackered and elated to have passed Level 2! Hooray.  Can you believe that? Now its time to get a bike but where shall I put it?  I know I’ll miss cycling until next year.

What To Do When You’re Depressed

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women-riding-a-bicycle1I’m not cycling on a major road I thought to myself when I met the Level 3 trainees who were getting ready to go on the dual carriageway. That’s what I thought since my very first lesson.

 But now, the structure of the lessons meant that I hardly noticed the progressive build up of skills.  As we passed Level 1 and became more confident, we started off on a cul-de-sac and then very quiet back streets until today he said “We’re going on the dual carriageway up to the High Street.”   OMG!  The dual carriageway is extremely busy with cars, buses and all sorts thundering along at speed and then there is the bus station with about three sets of traffic lights as the buses go one way, the cars another and then there’s a sharp left to the station to get to the High Street. OMG! That’s dangerous.

Well, considerably nervous, we followed Jake.  Other instructors rode along side and in between us, giving commands, instructions and pointers. On the left turn out of the minor road pedestrianised area onto the dual carriageway was a Cycle Path.  Thank God!  I was so glad to see the green cycle path, it felt safe and I felt no one could bother me!  But it was shared with the buses so we had to use our ‘look behind’ skills on the left before moving out to the right to avoid the parked buses and crashing into passing cars. 

It felt very dangerous but exciting at the same time, quite thrilling.  Adrenalin rose and pumped through my body. Cycle assertively, the instructors told us.  We have every right to be on the road. Let them see you. Make choices. Stop or slow down if need be. It’s your safety. Don’t go behind parked cars.

I got stuck on a slight slope once pass the High Street.  I should have changed gears in time.  On another slope I had to dismount and walk up, I couldn’t manage it.  (Its very hilly around here). Come on, you can do it. Its only a slight incline. No, its a hill!!  They encouraged me but I was too tired and pushed the bike up.  How embarrassing! 

We had to turn right from a minor road into a major road, practise peeping and creeping, accelerating, avoiding parked cars, doing a U-turn on the major road and left back into the minor road- an ‘L’ shape. It started to rain and it was a hill at the junction with the major. We preserved but getting pedal ready at the junction in time to turn right quick enough to avoid oncoming cars on both sides of the major road was quite difficult.  Jake made it look so easy.

Anyway pass the high street we went down quiet back streets for more skills teaching, learning how to turn left and right and then cycling a roundabout.  But the instructors were very good ensuring our safety by spreading out and directing us and the other traffic.  Then I suddenly remembered my time with my friend down the Jurassic Coast, my confidence boosted, I cycled assertively around the roundabout gaining compliments from the instructions. I felt great. I wanted more but I would have to wait until the next lesson.

Alone At Christmas

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Well, I just knew it!  I was born in the wrong country!  Surfing for information about bikes came across loads of stuff, including Copenhagen Cycle Chic  and Copenhagenize.com blogs about bike culture and social commentary in Copenhagen. What wonderful sites.  For someone like me, new to riding a bicycle, it’s amazing! I’ve learnt that I don’t have to wear lyrca cycling gear from head to toe after all. I notice that most of their cyclists don’t wear a helmet either!  They say up to 39% of the population travel by bicycle in their normal clothes including high heels, fashionable clothes and all sorts in Copenhagen. 

I was so excited when I found another site called Amsterdaize and.. get this… its logo is 100% Lycra-Free, Guaranteed. Browsing also through London Cycle Chic shows how to Look Good and Cycle. Their blog says

This site offers tips and advice on how to combine safety, practicality and style to acheive true urban cycle chic.

Great, isn’t it!

I now feel more confident and certain that you can look good riding a bicycle and/or wear what you normally wear even in cold weather.   

My instructors wear all the Gore stuff.  When I looked it up  it was sooooo expensive. The total cost of buying the gear, costs more than what I would spend on a bike itself!  I don’t have that sort of money. But then they are professionals and I just want to pursue fun, freedom and fitness.

Now I can say with confidence to my instructors that I can learn in clothes that I normally wear when they laugh at my heeled boots!  The culture of bike riding is amazing in those countries.  We should definitely follow their example.  I wish I was born there

Can you imagine, though that in the USA (where I lived for a while) a bike culture! Maybe its possibly impractical in some places in the States. Definitely car culture rules.  Now I’m thinking about it, I never saw cyclist all the time I was in the States!  In my opinion, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many obese people if cycling replaced cars!

Well, Scandinavian countries, I’m booking my flight! (when I’m more experienced, of course). 

Virtual cycling?

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