One month into my cycling (and blogging) adventure and today I cycled up Pen y Pass. Pen y Pass is basically, I think, the highest bike climb in Snowdonia at an altitude of 359 metres (1,178 ft). I cycled up there today and the sense of achievement I feel is huge. Having not set myself any physical challenges for years, well besides giving birth to and raising two lovely kids, being proud is not a feeling I’ve experienced much recently and to be honest, I love it and I am growing to love cycling too!
When I first took up cycling, just a few weeks ago, every hill was a pain, but without a training plan, other than just getting out on my bike as much as I can (literally in all weathers) I have managed to tackle an iconic ride and it feels good. All the experienced riders told me the best way to improve was to ride my bike as much as I could, and they were right.
I am really enjoying the freedom of cycling but getting out over the last few weeks has also made me fall in love with the place where I live too. I so appreciate the beauty of Snowdonia, the mountains and the coast.
Its not all been a “love in” with cycling mind, I have some real “pet hates” see below, but first take a look at these pictures which might help explain why I love Snowdonia –
My top three cycling “Pet Hates”are:
HELMET HAIR – Its so awkward when I meet someone and my hair is stuck to my forehead with sweat, not a good look.
LYCRA – Since my teenage years I have avoided like the plague anything clingy, now I’ve taken up a hobby that involves Lycra and accentuating all those lumps and bumps.
NAPPY BUM – The padding on cycling leggings is great when I am on my bike, but frankly looks completely stupid when I am just walking around in a Café.
Anyhow I must put vanity to one side and get on with riding my bike, I hear that there are much worse embarrassing cycling problems I could suffer from.
The best thing about cycling is the connection to the world around me and in particular to nature. Please bear with me I know how this sounds – but rushing from car to house, to car, to work, to car, to school etc. etc. I hadn’t really noticed what was going on “out there”. On early morning bike rides I’ve seen foxes, mountain goats, robins, cows and of course, loads of sheep. Unlike in a car, the quietness of the bike is a lot less intrusive somehow. I’ve also, for the first time in years, really noticed and enjoyed the changing of the seasons from Autumn to Winter. On the shortest day of the year, I am looking forward with optimism to Spring and continuing my cycling adventure.
On a very different note, here’s a story from our local paper about my trip early in December to deliver aid and volunteer in Calais Refugee Camp.