From pounding the pavement to climbing the Col du Glandon, Nova Berry talks about her new-found love for her bike and the emotional rollercoaster that long rides seem to put you on.
Words by Nova Berry
Nova is a Mum of three beautiful kids and lives in South London. She re-started cycling just two years ago.
If you ask me if I'm a cyclist, I'm very quick to say no. In my heart, I'm a runner, a runner who is cheating on my trainers with a bike :-)
This little affair of mine has been going on for a couple of years now and as much as I try to stop, my love for it just keeps getting stronger. Funnily enough it all started when my running buddy and I entered the Ride 100 with others from our club and somehow managed to be the only ones to bag ourselves a place.
A few months later dressed in my running kit, riding a particularly noisy, ancient hybrid found in the garage, my training started. In the first month I didn't venture far just in case I needed to ring someone to change my tyre or in case I fell off, but time builds confidence and slowly I discovered the beautiful villages in Surrey and conquered Box Hill, Leith Hill and Newlands Corner.
The event itself was amazing. Riding on closed roads through London and my home town with huge crowds was a privilege. The camaraderie between riders was something you don't experience whilst running a race. Most of the time I can hardly breathe whilst racing, never mind chatting and making friends and I think, that, right there, is what captured my heart.
The emotions felt whilst riding are vast. I've laughed so hard I've nearly wet myself. I've cried out of pain and exhaustion. I've been so frustrated I've nearly thrown my bike across the road. And most irrationally, despite all I've achieved, I've doubted myself and my ability - many a time! But all of these emotions have never been felt alone, I have always had the support of my cycling buddies.
To me, the best part has been the friends I have made, the ones that you share your soul with, who see you at your best and worst, who flank you when you need support in that deep dark place and pull you home when you're half dead and the road home seems so long. The ones who you share special memories with, like the sunrise on Col du Glandon or the 'heart in mouth' descent down Alpe d'Huez. Such precious moments that'll be with me forever and inspire me to go further and experience more.
I could never have imagined where this path has taken me and the beauty that being on the bike reveals to you, but I am so very grateful to be on it and urge anyone contemplating sitting on a saddle to just go for it and enjoy the ride :-)