10 things I’ve learned about cycling

Ok, we’re now into week four of training and to be frank, I’m starting to panic. My best intentions have gone slightly by the wayside and I’ve yet to cross the 30 mile barrier - not great news when you’re looking down the barrel of 50 miles in just a few short weeks!

Ok, we’re now into week four of training and to be frank, I’m starting to panic. My best intentions have gone slightly by the wayside and I’ve yet to cross the 30 mile barrier - not great news when you’re looking down the barrel of 50 miles in just a few short weeks!

As part of the South Leitrim Charity Cycle for the North West Hospice 60 cyclists will be sharing the joys of cycling up and down every road, boreen and bypass in the south of the county on July 30.

For some of you this won’t be a novel experience because you probably, sensibly, didn’t enter this whole thing minus a bike on a complete bloody whim. For those of you, who like me, have no experience, no balance and a pathological fear of bicycle shorts, here is a short list of what to watch out for when cycling.

1. Chafing - Ok, I don’t think I really need to get into too much detail here, suffice to say that any sport that promotes the use of anti friction barrier gels on your backside is promising to unleash a whole world of hurt you’ve never experienced before. Be warned.

2. Feeling let down? - If you suddenly find that it’s gotten much more difficult to pedal and you aren’t going up a hill or after changing to an impossible gear, chances are your tyre’s sprung a leak. Inevitably this will serve a reminder as why you should follow point number 3.

3. Bring a mobile phone - There’s nothing worse than being stuck by the side of the road or in a ditch, with a flat tyre/broken leg/bad case of humiliation and finding you don’t have a mobile phone to call someone who may actually do more than laugh at your predicament as they drive by, slooooowly. A word of warning though, the same rules apply when cycling as when driving, for the sake of your life don’t answer the phone while pedalling and unless your eyeballs work independently of one another it isn’t possible to text and watch the road at the same time.

4. Potholes - Forget about employing people to survey the roads for potholes, cyclists get to experience the sudden hell of a shortage of asphalt on a very regular basis, so we’re the perfect people to ask.

5. Insect magnet - Cycling Sod’s Law states that as soon as you start pedalling every bug in a three mile radius will want to kamikaze itself up you nose, in your ear, or the worst, down your throat as you whiz along the highways and byways of Co Leitrim. Waving your arms like a lunatic will not discourage them and will inevitably lead to point 6.

6. Making an arse of yourself - There’s no way around it. Any sport which promotes the wearing of skin tight lycra and luminescent jackets will inevitably attract people’s attention for all the wrong reasons. People in cars are equally fascinated and frustrated by the sight of a cyclist lurching along the road in front of them, likewise pedestrians will always stop to “have a look at the eejit on the bike”. Don’t kid yourselves, they are all waiting for one thing - for you to fall off - so they can laugh uproariously and then sidle away before they suffer an attack of the guilts over your badly grazed body.

7. Only the Queen of England waves at everyone - This one comes courtesy of my husband who I waved to when out cycling the other day. The fact is that I didn’t know I was waving at him - he was in another person’s car - but I waved at him nonetheless. Why? Because I wave at everybody. I have developed a saluting obsession that has, on a number of occasions, come close to leaving me in a messy heap on the side of the road. Hence my husband’s sage words of advice “Only the Queen of England waves at everybody. You’re not the Queen of England, quit it before you kill yourself”.

8. Cycle wear can cause serious injury - They don’t tell you this in the shop but while cycle apparel may make you more aerodynamic, it can also cause you serious injury. Getting into pre-shrunk lycra shorts is never a graceful prospect but getting back out of them, especially when you’ve been cycling in the rain, could be the death of you. For the love of God remember to take off your shoes before attempting to de-short, finding out you’re about to lose your balance is never a happy event when you’re trapped in a hellish struggle between the stay up pant leg of your shorts and your shoes.

9. Know your gears - I still haven’t got the hang of this one but one thing I have realised, changing from a low gear to a high gear while cycling up Selton Hill will only end one way, badly.

10. You’ll be doing it all again tomorrow - You’re hurting in places you never thought existed, you’ve bruises from the bloody pedals and the brakes are starting to make an alarming squealing noise without actually doing anything to slow you down. You feel a total twat in your cycling shorts and a busload of people you know have just driven past to ogle you as you desperately try to make it up a relatively small hill. The good news is that you’ll get to do all again tomorrow......thank God this is for charity.

Please everybody show your support for the cyclists completing the South Leitrim Charity Cycle in aid of the Northwest Hospice this month. The money raised will help to ensure the continuation of the vital work of the Northwest Hospice.