It all started with a Tweet from Sarah Connolly …

I quote “If you’re a woman who loves cycling, here’s how you can ride with @marianne_vos in London on 26th October. Exciting!” with a link to a sign up form for a Secret Twitter Ride in London.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter simply because I have a day job, two demanding sons and a house to run, but that tweet simply caught my attention…

It is not a secret I am a woman and I love cycling. Marianne Vos has been described as “the finest cyclist of her generation”, is an Olympic gold medallist, a multiple world champion and if you get the opportunity to go for a ride with her, you would be crazy not to grab it.

So I sent my details to Marit who was the ride’s organiser for a chance to join the secret ride…

I can remember being on the bus when I received Marit’s email telling me I had been selected and would be riding alongside 50 other women, Marianne Vos, Rebecca Charlton and a few other riders of the Mulebar girls for a 55km ride at an average speed of at least 25 km/hour.

My first reaction was OMG! To be honest I didn’t think I would be selected. The journey home from the bus stop was spent calling and texting a few people to share the news. Then I kept my jacket and shoes on for a while and read the email again and again…

My first thought was how am I going to sustain an average speed of at least 25 km per hour for 55km….

Thanks to an amazingly supportive partner and my determination, I decided to rise to the challenge.

By 7.30am on Sunday morning, the bike was in the car and we were ready to go. I had that feeling I get every time I ride my bike – that feeling of excitement, freedom and contentment – combined with just a few butterflies in my stomach.

By 10.15 we were gathering by the Lee Valley velodrome. We were split into three groups according to our speed and fitness level. I decided to go in the slowest group.

Needless to mention I knew I was going to be joining a no cake, no pit stop ride, after all, I was riding with champions.

After the first 10 miles, it transpired the women I was riding along with were really serious about riding but not taking themselves seriously to my complete relief.

We had a pit stop, looked out for each other, talked, laughed and enjoyed riding together.

The highlight of the ride was when Marianne Vos joined our group and I did get to ride right behind for a few miles.

It was exhilarating and scary at the same time. All I could think about was making sure I didn’t take her down by clipping her back wheel…

She is the most amazing cyclist I have had the chance to ride with. Watching her on the bike is mesmerising, were does she get that power from?

After the ride, I had the chance to talk to her and discovered we had a few things in common… we both come from the continent, we’re both determined, and both love cycling…

Marianne, thank you for sharing your love of cycling – you inspired 50 women on Sunday.

Thank you to Sarah Conolly for tweeting about the event, Marit for organising it, The Mule bar girls team ride leaders and James for supporting me, taking some of the photos and driving me up to London early on a Sunday morning…

Photo James Oaten

Photo James Oaten

Words and photo by @carinesinsta


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