My name's Alex, I'm 20 years old and currently living in Lancaster in the North of England. I'm a student and a newcomer to the cyclist way of life.
I've been cycling on and off for two years now. It was originally a practical thing, when I moved from Manchester to Lancaster I discovered the permanently gridlocked, narrow Victorian streets just weren't suitable for my car. It made cycling the only practical way to get around town and to University without having to leave an hour early.
My friends have also been great inspiration to encourage my love of the bike. I live with two boys, both big into their bikes, who spend every waking moment out exploring the UK's countryside and going on cycling holidays to all sorts of places like the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. It was hard not to catch the cycling bug.
As for leisure cycling, Lancaster is full of flat, traffic free cycle paths that gave me a really easy, gentle introduction to getting the wind in my hair and discovering new places. This sense of adventure gave me a passion for cycling – cycling enabled me to satisfy my outdoor adventure craving. My University then gave me access to a road bike due to the sheer lack of female cyclists in the University Club and this is when I really got into cycling.
My adventures really started when I began to visit amazing places such as the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.
What I didn't know about these trips was how much of a challenge they would pose compared to my usual flat cycle path outings. Going up and down the endless hills had my legs screaming, every fiber of my body telling me to stop, but popping out at Malham Cove in the sunset had made it all worth it. The warming sun and tranquility made me forget about my aching and burning thighs and gave me a sense of rejuvenation. As did the chips and hot chocolate, in the cyclists tradition of café stops. The same can't be said for my adventure in the Lakes, the lack of sun and light and the over generous amount of rain would probably be enough to put anyone off from cycling again, but maybe it’s the child in me which loves the defiance of being out in the rain getting soaking wet head to toe, as long as there is a dry pair of socks at the end of the ride.
Not long after that I ended up buying my own bike, at which point my love of cycling has only grown.
Before I started cycling I'd always dismissed the idea that going on adventures and exploring wasn't about where you were going, be it a cafe, picnic spot or rock formation, but about how you got there. To me, adventure is entirely about the journey, the smells, sounds, sights and experience of being on the journey is what ignites my sense of achievement and adventure.
The more I cycle, the more this idea of being journey-focused resonates with me. The destination may be a lake for example, and getting there by car will reward you with a nice view and perhaps the smell of the outdoors as you step out of your warm comfortable car. But when you get to the same lake by bike, the destination may be the same but the journey, the adventure, is totally different. You are totally connected to your landscape cycling. You feel the breeze, the rain, the sun, the texture of the road. You experience the wildlife, the birds singing, lambs running and trees creaking in the wind, and a lot more laughs and stories to tell. It's this raw and unblemished connection with the outdoors and nature that I love about cycling.
I'm looking forward to going to Croatia in September and exploring some of the national parks and finding those unique, hidden places for the new and exclusive experiences which I've so far only had in the UK. Also, when my fitness allows I'd like to have a go at racing on the track. After becoming a frequent member of the spectators club, I have noticed how few females actually compete, so I would love to increase the female presence within cycling, hopefully inspiring other women to give cycling a go and discover what it can do for them. Although I have a lot of training ahead of me, the journey to become like the cyclists already out there and competing, will be an adventure within itself, which I'm eager and excited to embark on.
Check me out on Instagram to keep up to date with what I’m doing and where I’ve been off to. www.instagram/girlmeetsbike