A blog post I did over on Vulpine, and a piece written by the wonderful Lauren Laverne in Glamour Magazine this month has given me food for thought on this entry. A round-up of my year on the saddle isn't an unusual post for me to do, but this time I'm going to be a bit more honest about what some of these things really meant to me and why it's cool to celebrate those achievements.
On the bike: As much as I've dabbled in different kinds of cycling, my "big one" on two wheels was taking on Eroica Britannia and L'Eroica in Tuscany. Although they were not quite back to back rides, doing Bakewell would usually have been "enough" for me as a big ride of the year. The opportunity to take on the Tuscan hills came up, and I took it. I'd never cycled across terrain like that before, and as that write-up will tell you, there were moments where I thought this could have been a huge mistake. That ride has now propelled me to take on more rides like that, and get riding on my Aprire without feeling like I'm not good enough for road cycling.
Off the bike: I blog about cycling. Of course I talk about my love of cycling a lot - but in public? To an audience of real live people? Oh no, I didn't do that... until this year. Twice. Wanna know something? The idea of public speaking bloody terrifies me (it's true) but when I was asked by the brilliant Naomi of Hackney St Cloud to give a talk at her launch party, I actually said yes. I gave a talk on my journey into cycling and the evolution of cycle-style... and then had an impromptu Q&A session after. My heart was in my throat the moment I stepped up in front of a full LMNH to speak, but I did it. Then a couple of weeks later, I did another talk as part of a powerhouse female cycling panel at London Bike Kitchen's first ever WAGFEST. Alongside Chris Garrison and Lois May-Miller, I was discussing Urban Riding / Commuting and how to get more under-represented groups cycling. There is some more public speaking in the pipeline for 2016 thanks to this summer's events.
HAVING A LAUGH
Being serious all the time in cycling is no fun - I see too many people tearing chunks out of each other on social media about it from time to time... I switch off from that to be honest, and focus on the good stuff! This includes having a laugh on two wheels, which I did in serious style in 2015. The Tweed Run will always have a place in my heart for the sheer joy and spectre of dressing up for the day alongside 500 other riders. This one was extra special due to being the inspiration for the poster this year. The fun to be had with that? Bringing the outfit Eliza Southwood created to life for the ride. More dressing up and getting immersed in the romance of cycling came in the form of the Pashley Picnic Ride. Doing this for the first time was incredible amounts of fun (even in the drizzle) - and being a guest of Pashley and spending time riding with Adrian Williams was marvellous. Laughter is GOOD!
DOING MORE TV AND MEDIA STUFF
I was back on the tellybox this year with The Cycle Show. It was a very short series this time round, but I was over the moon to be back with the team again, filming two out of the four episodes. One saw me over in Bristol doing a feature on the Bristol Bike Project, and the other was right on my doorstep, covering the debut of the Red Hook Criterium over at the O2. Other media came in the form of being featured in Bicycling Magazine - something I never expected to happen, nor for the piece to be as big as it was. It means a lot to me to work on the show, and be involved in any kind of media relating to cycling... especially as a woman. I recognise what comes with this, and what can come of it. More representation and hopefully inspiring more women to get into cycling means the world to me. So keep your eyes peeled in 2016 for a bit more.
SOCIAL MEDIA, THE REAL WORLD AND LIFE
I've become friends with some amazing cycling people via social media, but the one thing I was not doing enough of was stepping beyond a tweet or a like on Instagram and actually MEETING these people! Another thing you'll learn about me now - I'm actually quite introverted and shyness can often stop me dead in my tracks. Stepping out, and meeting some of the fantastic people who I can now call friends was another big move for me. I'll now be bugging you for rides next year.... so be warned.
I'd told myself I wasn't going to focus on some of the bad stuff that's happened this year, but I can't deny its existence... and how some of it sent me hurtling toward my Depression (that's the first time I've said it out loud on my blog - big step again) being woken up again. Getting out on a bike more has been good for me. It's given me more time to think, and to start putting a lot of things into perspective. Being around positive people and good vibes, discovering new things about myself (and channelling my inner #GIRLBOSS) has been a huge achievement for me... and long may that feeling continue.
So, that was my slightly different take on rounding up the year. I hope you all had a fantastic 2015, and that 2016 brings you plenty of cycling fuelled fun. See you on the other side!