Marny with the 'Boss', Brenda Mitchell
I got a message this morning from “the boss” asking me to draft up a few words about ‘my cycling journey.’ Well, where do I start? Perhaps, at the beginning would make sense!
I've been cycling now for three and half years. I only took it up as a regular form of exercise and sport after giving up horse-riding following a full hip replacement four years ago.
I started riding on a hybrid which I had sitting in the garage and following my first ride with “Belles on Bikes - Scottish Borders,” I purchased a ladies Liv Avail road bike.
I thoroughly enjoyed these rides with like-minded people, although on occasions (and there were quite a few) I had to get off and walk up the hills. I worried about holding people up, but I need not have worried as they are a lovely group to cycle with. Nobody gets left behind ever.
I also met up with like-minded women through a group called ‘Peebles Ladies Roadies’ set up by Pippa Tanner. Again, I met so many lovely people to ride with and admire our beautiful countryside.
With months of encouragement, Pippa persuaded me to ride in cleats. Wrong move! Twice I fell over and both times I stopped, tried to put my foot down and then fell over, causing a few laughs along with way. My bike was damaged on the first occasion, but I damaged my shoulder on the second as I tried not to land on my hip! After that, I was back on normal pedals.
My first sportive was “A Bridge Too Far”, starting from Norham, near Coldstream. I was extremely nervous to start with, but I was doing it with my fellow cycling friend Angie Plisga, and together we completed the 43-mile route in 35-40 mph wind!
My next challenge was to take part in the Loch Ness Etape cycling 66 miles round Loch Ness leaving from Inverness. It was planned for late April, which just happened to coincide with my 61st birthday.
On numerous occasions, I would panic and think that I wouldn’t be able to do it. However, I then decided to focus on raising funds for McMillan Nursing, a charity very close to my heart for various reasons.
I was delighted to raise a total of £1,600 and, for that reason, I made myself take part.
I had the fabulous support of my husband, Robin, who drove me to Inverness along with another friend I had met through cycling. The camaraderie of like-minded McMillan fund-raisers (our group was called “The Nessie Nutters”) was extraordinary. To this day, we are still in touch through social media. The atmosphere and the sunny blue skies made it a day to remember. I did walk a good part of what is known as “that dreaded hill” (a 4.5km climb) but I completed the course in 5.5 hours.
Finding the hills becoming more of a problem, I decided to purchase an E-bike – and I have never looked back. I purchased a Cube Hybrid which I took places that maybe I shouldn’t have but there was no stopping me. It certainly opened up a whole new world of cycling – road, gravel and a bit of mountain biking. I have only just recently upgraded that bike for a Trek mountain e-bike, on which I look forward to going on many future adventures.
Marny riding with friends in Lanzarote
I never thought I would venture abroad to cycle. However, last year in April, three friends accompanied me to Lanzarote where we had an amazing week cycling in the sun and warmth with a cheeky Irish chap leading our rides. It was a holiday we hope to repeat in the near future. Here I hired an electric road bike (didn’t realise there was such a thing) and on return I purchased one. Again, this opened another world of cycling, going further every time I was out.
One lasting memory for me was taking part in the Doddie’5 Ride last August in the Borders. It was the wettest day for years. I was cycling once again with Angie and within fifteen minutes we were both soaked to the skin. Part of the route had been changed due to the flooding, but by laughing and, dare I say, swearing, we completed the ride. To be greeted by Doddie at the end was the icing on the cake.
Marny with Angie and Doddie at the end of Doddie'5 Ride raising funds for his MND Foundation
Unfortunately, my Cube road ebike died due to the drowning it had endured. With the help of Galashiels based Diamond Cycles, we thought we had it going again, only to arrive at the Poppy Scotland Sportive in September at Prestonpans where it wouldn’t start! So, cycling with no assistance, I had to walk a good part of this route over the hills etc but once again I did complete it. I was part of the Cycle Law Scotland office team taking part in the “Love to Ride” challenge and I didn’t want to let my team down. I am pleased to say that I now have a Cannondale Synapse road ebike and look forward to cycling many routes in the future.
Marny having completed the Tour de Forth Sportive
I have competed in various sportives over the past three years including The Solway, Tour de Forth, Cycle Law Scotland Skinny Tweed and cycled with the Wounded Lions Rugby Boys from Carfrae Mill to Edinburgh with the Calcutta Cup rugby ball this year to name just a few.
I would encourage all those who cycle to take part in them as they are a great way to see other parts of the country, take in wonderful scenery and meet up with like-minded people, whilst at the same time raising funds for worthy causes.
I can highly recommend cycling in any form to help with mental illness, physical fitness and, most of all, to be able to get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside. I hope I can continue to do it for many years to come.