The last few months have flown by in that scary way that they do when you’re really busy. So here is a belated update on my 12 New Things progress – the little challenge I posed myself for the year.
1. Pay it forward: buy a bike for someone else.
This is the first New Thing I’ve ticked off that was actually on my original list of ideas.
I probably wouldn’t be riding a bike at all if it wasn’t for the kindness of a stranger in 2012, who gave me Claud. Giving bikes to people is a brilliant thing to do, if life gives you the chance.
I’ve been planning this particular gift since the recipient was born. My niece, who is feisty and red-headed and full of energy, turned 2 recently – and I wanted to buy her her first two wheeled machine. So I did. It’s orange, like her gorgeous hair, and she was very excited when she realised it was for her. I’m sure I was more excited than she was, but it was still lovely to watch her go and look for her helmet and climb on, albeit in a clumsy and wobbly fashion.
Just for the record – I’m NOT going to be the pushy Auntie who won’t stop until she’s Laura Trott – if she takes up tap dancing or football instead, good for her :). I’m just happy to be a little part of helping her experience the joy of whizzing along on a bike. Because it’s pretty great, isn’t it? :)
2. Win something…
In my last 12 New Things post, I tried roller racing – I mostly wrote about how crap I was at it. I probably failed to mention that at least 50% of my competitors were semi-professional cyclists. I’m very good at putting myself down, and ignoring my successes. Partly it’s a defensive thing – to deny anyone else the opportunity to do it first. It’s also just a genuine lack of confidence. More about that later.
May saw the third Spin Up in A Brewery, a brilliant day hosted by Dark Star Brewery, and supported by local companies Kinesis Bikes and Morvelo Cycle Apparel. A road ride from The Velo Cafe and an off-road ride from Rule 5 Bikes took a huge group of riders from Brighton to the brewery. Myself and Gavin were given the job of broom wagon on the road ride, which was a handy excuse to be slow and be at the back (I’m doing that thing again aren’t I?).
The ride out was great fun: I met some cool people, and didn’t cry descending the Beacon (I despise going down that hill). It was all good until the last 10 miles when the rain began to pour. When we made it to the brewery we were all completely soaked. Thankfully the sun decided to show its face, and I was able to dry my kit out in it.
The ‘spin up’ bit of the event was provided by South Coast Sprints and their static roller bikes. A pint consumed and enough courage was found to sign up for the roller racing. I convinced my friend Carine to race me: “Ah c’mon, it’ll be a laugh”. So we raced, I won our little competition, got given a nice Morvelo prize, and went off in search of more beer. 3 pints and some pizza later, Gavin appeared “Um, you do realise you’re 2nd in the top 10 women and the next round starts in a minute, yeah?” OH. Sodding hell. I hadn’t even considered that I might qualify (there I go again..).
A mixture of disbelief, excitement and fear fell on me, and I switched from drinking beer to water. After a bit more cake, that is.
This is the bit where I admit that despite my lack of confidence, I am VERY competitive. I love winning. Monopoly, an argument, the raffle at the village fete – I don’t mind, just give me all the wins. I haven’t won anything vaguely sport related since a running race when I was about 7, mostly because I’m too much of a coward to enter many competitions (see: failed attempts at cycle racing).
So when I looked at my name on the leader board and realised that there was a chance I could actually win, something went click, and Competitive Lois got her legs out (not literally, you understand – the trousers remained on). Long story short – 3 rounds and much leg spinning later, I BLOODY WON! I am still in shock.
As I accepted my lovely prizes from Morvelo and Upgrade, I was reminded of two things: 1. Winning is a Very Good Feeling. 2. I’m not as crap as I think I am. It was only a beer fueled roller race, but it’s made me think a lot about what I am capable of. The other women in the top 10 were really fast – I watched and cheered and was impressed and worried I couldn’t beat them. To belittle my own win would be an insult to them and their fast legs, so I’m going to remain proud of me and mine.
Special thanks to my cheer leading team, fronted by Mandy, who can shout louder than the rest of Sussex put together. And also to Gavin, not only for the pictures, but also for pointing out that I had won, not come 2nd…
I’ll be back next year for another 4 pints, pizza and cake. And to defend my title, of course ;-)