Today I cycled with Stirling Bike Club again and I absolutely loved it!

I went out with the intermediate group.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep up to be honest.  I don’t have clip in shoes or pedals and just wear my hillwalking boots, and I’m riding a hybrid rather than a road bike.  I did say to the group leader, that if I couldn’t keep up, I’d just make my own way back, not wanting to spoil people’s ride … but he explained and everyone jumped in to reassure me that they would always wait, regroup and ride together.  

I didn’t have anything to worry about … I kept up just fine … although I did push myself in parts … riding up hills without clip in pedals is tough and I have to stand up out the saddle to use my body weight to stamp down on a harder gear to keep up.  Although cycling without a dog in a trailer is so much easier!!!  I remember last summer, when I cycled up the Bealach na Ba on a fully loaded bicycle, pulling a 13 kg trailer with a 17 kg dog in it.  Lol.  The gradients were so steep in parts that the weight behind me kept pulling the back wheel off, so I had to zip tie the quick release to the frame to allow me to cycle over the top!

The sun was shining on our ride and the Scottish landscape was truly incredible!  Sometimes I cycled in silence, sometimes I chatted away.  We cycled 46.5 miles, with 2,100 ft of climbing and it was so much fun. We even clocked up 42 mph on one of the downhills … I love downhills and was buzzing after! When I’m cycling on my own, I have absolutely no time for uphills and I’d rather cycle along the busiest of main roads, rather than taking a scenic route that has a hill … even if that hill could be mistaken for a speed bump, but when I’m cycling with a group, the uphills don’t bother me so much.

Neil Barker, the ride leader was fantastic … I think he could tell I was struggling in the final few miles … probably from the whimper I made lol and he slowed things right down. 

The rides left the Peak Sports Centre, at 10 am, but I arrived early to have coffee with Christina Mackenzie, who at 40 years old, is training to break the record for the fastest woman to cycle Lejog, which is from the very northern point of mainland UK (John O Groats) to the most southern point (Lands End).  She’s known as lejogmack online and I suggest you give her pages a wee follow … I found her very inspiring. 

My plan is working.  My mental health took a major dive over the winter months and I’m on a long NHS waiting list for psychological help, so I decided to join a local bike club to improve my mental health. After only one week, my mental health has improved drastically – my mood has lifted and my anxiety is disappearing!  Many years ago, I pedalled my way out of the gutters of life and the bicycle is coming to my aid yet again.  Bravo!

I’m just so thankful to everyone in the club for being so welcoming and friendly and for caring about each other.

When I got home, I ate a big pot of pasta, had a bubble bath and then a snooze on the couch with my dog Maria.  I then ate a whole pizza to myself!  Tomorrow, I was planning on taking Maria on a 5 day walk to Dundee, following the Fife coast and wild camping along the way.  But my legs are ‘gubbed’ … (scientific term lol) … so maybe I’ll just start walking on Monday.

Ishbel xxx

Todays intermediate route: Bridge of Allan, Keir, Hill of Row, Doune, Micro Braes to Thornhill, Mini Braes, main Braes of Greenock and to Port of Mentith where we’ll cut across to Arnprior & tackle the wee climb up to ToTW.

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