This week while Jean- Luc has been turning 50, I have been reverting to childhood and learning to ....cycle!
I know! How could I get to 50 without learning to cycle (especially when I used to live and work in Cambridge - the UK's capital city of cycling); but I have and now I have to learn.
I have to learn to do what most people learn at 5 or 6 years old and while you can teach old dogs new tricks it's becoming obvious it takes a lot longer and is much harder to do so.
Very young children able to cycle - oh if only it was so easy for me!
Luckily we found a great place to teach me - Tracs at Delamere Forest.
Tracs is run by the wonderfully patient Tony, an ex Army and Policeman; who is a wonderful mixture of hard task master (Pedal harder!) and inspiration (You're doing great, you couldn't do that an hour ago).
This magical man managed to get me from complete beginner, who'd never pedaled an inch to someone who could ride a bike (albeit not always in a straight line) in just 1 1/2 hours.
I can't describe the rush of joy at being able to get on a bike and pedal off. Such a simple thing and such an amazing feeling - and I only fell off twice!
Two days later and we were back again. This time Jean-Luc took a bike out and spent a couple of hours cycling 14 miles round a mountain bike track (I was impressed as he'd not been on a bike for about 10 years); and I cycled round the Gruffalo Trail with Tony - in fits and starts. This is a very easy 1mile trail where small kids take their parents on a Gruffalo hunt. It took me an hour to get round it and I did see the Gruffalo, very briefly as I cycled past it.
Yes dear reader, you read correctly - I CYCLED past it!
I puffed, I panted, I 'pedaled harder', I panic braked and got bitten by the bike more than once (usually when passing children out of fear I would plough into them), I only fell off once and I realised how woefully unfit I am and made a commitment to spend more time with the exercise bike. But sometimes for a few minutes (and usually before I panic braked and came a cropper with the gears again) I wasn't battling with my inexperience; sometimes for a few moments I was cycling through the woods and it was fantastic.
I didn't come away completely unscathed. Warning - following photo isn't for the faint hearted.
But no pain - no gain.
I have say here that these bruises in no way reflect the care and safety concerns of Tony my trainer. These were caused by me and me alone panic braking and running the bike gears into my legs. Tony was a veritable icon of patience and calm and kept me from steering into ditches and down steep banks on countless occasions and I felt completely safe with him there to guide me through the trail.
The bruises are a result of a clumsy learner not knowing what she's doing; but this clumsy learner is learning and the absolute thrill of being able to say 'I went cycling in Delamere Forest' is beyond measure.
I am still bouncing from the thrill and will be going back to practice some more with Jean-Luc; although I may wait a little longer than planned for the bruises to go down, but I will definitely be going back for more.
It was great - thanks to Tony from Tracs - I have learnt to cycle.
ps. this is not a sponsored post, I don't do sponsored posts. This is just me thanking a terrific trainer for helping me achieve something completely new and utterly wonderful.