Starting my cycling journey
I’ve known about New Malden Velo (NMV) for a few years. My husband joined the
club a few years ago at a time when club rides generally went out at 7am on a
Sunday morning. This was not for me! And there were so many reasons for not
joining the club!
Not only did we have a smallish child with the weekend activity schedule that that
comes with and a dog to walk but I am inherently lazy. The thought of getting up at
6am on a Sunday morning to go out for a bike ride was out of the question!
I have commuted by bike or by running for years only because it was quicker than
taking public transport. The added benefits of getting fresh air and building regular
exercise into my day were bonuses.
There were also only a couple of women members of the club at the time and this
was another reason for not joining. I would have been worried about not being able
to keep up and holding people up, not knowing how to ride safely in a group, not
knowing how to speak ‘cyclist’, getting a puncture and not being able to change an
inner competently, etc etc etc. There were so many reasons not to start my cycling journey with New Malden Velo!
1 ST WOMENS INTRO RIDE; 8 MAY 2021
My cycling journey could have ended there but things changed with the introduction of the women’s intro ride in 2021 and set up of the NMV Women’s group. The aim of these rides was to encourage diversity within the club and introduce more local women to cycling. This was an additional ride once a month on a Saturday and slightly shorter and at a slightly more relaxed pace than the monthly open club intro ride.
I was so impressed that club members willingly gave up their time to encourage
others when they could be zooming around the Surrey Hills. Joining the Women’s
Intro rides and the Women’s rides out to Box Hill and Windsor gave me the
confidence to ride in a group and I started joining the Women’s ride regularly and
then joined some of the open intro’s too. I realised that cycling clubs don’t have to
be full of competitive people who just want to cycle as fast as they possibly can and
that people were happy to wait for each other! It felt like the right time to move to the next stage of my cycling journey.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT RIDING WITH A CLUB?
Joining NMV has meant that I have met local people and I have made good friends.
Riding in a group with a club means I have help when I need it as well as access to
some beautiful and curated cycling routes. I feel safer and I’ve learnt a lot about bike
handling and maintenance.
To me, more important than cycling with people of the same gender, is finding other
people who cycle at around my pace or don’t mind cycling to the pace of the other people in a group. It has definitely helped my cycling journey that there are more than just 1 or 2 women in the club now! Luckily for me, club rides have generally moved to 8am starts with the monthly Intro rides starting at 9am.
There are several rides that go out each week; Richmond Park laps, a Box Hill ride on Friday afternoons in the summer and weekend club rides. Whilst they are largely for road cycling there is increasing club interest in gravel and mountain bike rides. I’ve found that joining the club has given me a reason to wake up earlier than I would otherwise want to because I have committed to a ride that I will eventually love! I often feel regret for not getting out but very very rarely regret it. Signing up to a club ride has the same effect as booking into a gym class – but has the added bonus of coffee and cake half way through!
2 YEARS IN NEW MALDEN VELO
In the past 2 years, our son has got older and this has meant that getting out
regularly on a bike at the weekend is easier. As a result, I’ve ridden my first 100 mile
sportive, ridden the 90km to Brighton just to meet up with a friend for lunch
accompanied by several other lovely club members, been encouraged up some hills
that I never would’ve wanted to go up by myself, planned my first cycling weekend
away to the Isle of Wight with some of the women in the club; and started helping
organise the women’s intro rides, I’ve levelled up my cycling journey now.
I still sometimes worry that I will be too slow or hold people up but I really enjoy
being on my bike and spending time with other people who also like being on their
bikes. I’m never going to be an iron person or cycle across the world and I love that
New Malden Velo is a club where there are some people who are mad enough to do
those sorts of things but also are happy enough to cycle out to Cobham on an Intro
ride just to have a coffee. Whatever comes, my cycling journey continues.
If this has inspired you to take up your own cycling journey, contact us to find out more.
Post by Nayana Swales