This is the story of my journey from a non-rider to a cyclist extraordinaire.
At age 44 I took my first bike trip in Europe. Actually, it was my first bike trip ever and first time on a bike in Europe. The Trek Travel trip was not in the Loire Valley in France or through the tulip fields of Holland (which are relatively flat), but in the hills of Italy! In Tuscany we were either riding up to a “hill town” or downhill, on our way to go up another hill, to another town. I did not even own a road bike at the time. I trained for the trip on a hybrid with flat pedals, and that is the bike I rode on the trip. I didn’t even own a pair of cycling shorts!
The first afternoon was designed to stretch our legs, and this found me riding alone as the last rider of the group. I was talking out loud at the imagined version of my husband, a long-time avid cyclist, in front of me. The one-sided conversation went something like this: “What am I doing here? These are mountains not hills! People are on this trip training for the Iron Man qualifying event in Madison! There are former amateur and pro riders on this trip! What were you thinking bringing me!”
Everyone on the trip was supportive and encouraging to those of us who were not experienced riders – specially the Trek Travel guides. The three female guides changed my life. These three wonderful ladies encouraged me to ride at my own pace, to challenge myself, and were always willing to ride with me no matter how slow. I listened to their parting words at the end of the trip: “ Don’t give up cycling.”
I took those words to heart. I am fortunate to have a husband who is patient and loves cycling more than any other activity. He helped me move forward in my equipment choices from hybrid, to a Women’s Specific Design road bike, and now to a Trek Madone (like going from a pony to a Thoroughbred Horse). I moved from regular pedals, to mountain bike pedals, and now to road bike clip-in pedals. I now own cycling shorts too!
At age 55, I now have five Trek Travel trips checked off my long wish list including Adelaide, Australia, Napa Valley, California, and Dordogne, France. By taking the guides’ words to heart, not only has my cycling improved, but so have so many parts of my life. I decided to start pilates three years ago to improve my cycling and this happened along with my overall strength, balance and flexibility. I have a confidence on the bike that has allowed me to ride in foreign countries, like Japan. My health has improved and my weight has dropped. I moved to downtown Madison, Wisconsin and use a bike as part of my daily transportation. I use my ability to ride longer distances to raise money for charity.