Whatever your walk of life – I hope you can look back and think of a few people who gave you a helping hand; people who guided, advised, or just offered you a shoulder to lean on. When struck by moments of sentimentality I think it’s great to take a moment and take stock of those who’ve helped you get where you are today. There are people who’ve inspired us, Cavendish was inspired by Millar, Wiggins was inspired by Chris Boardman and these stories are well documented, but we want to hear about the unsung who, without fuss, gave you that little extra push up the hill when you started cycling. To get the ball rolling, here’s my story:
When I was younger I did quite a lot of mountain bike riding; mostly with my family, from the ages of 10 to 16 I could be found out on the hills of Yorkshire pedalling my bike with my brothers while my mum rode her pony. They were happy times looking back, although I have lost count of the number of miserable wet cold days when I simply kept going so as to end it as soon as possible. It’s amazing how time does that!
From the age of 17 to about 22 I didn’t really do much riding, I’d found beer and other activities… but then on return from a trip to Peru where I’d spent three weeks trekking and white water rafting I thought it time to dust the bike off and take advantage of my altitude training and fitness. Well firstly I wasn’t remotely fit, not in the slightest, but when I turned up to ride with a group of local riders (who go by the name of the Swaledale Outdoor Club) for a ‘medium’ ride I was full of confidence in my ability to get round this route I knew quite well (from the village of Muker in Swaledale if anyone knows it!). How wrong I was, by the end I was well and truly on my chinstrap having bonked quietly but spectacularly about 2/3’s of the way round. But the kind strangers (who are now firmly good friends) kept an eye on me and waited at appropriate gates for me to catch up and made suitably encouraging noises when I eventually did. Undeterred, once I’d stopped aching about four days later I couldn’t wait to get out again.
Before I knew it I was going out most weekends and I had a shiny new bike in the garage. They witnessed all the hurdles we go through when learning to ride ‘properly’, from clipped in fails (check our blog on it here), to spectacular bonks and those head scratching mechanicals with patience, a kind word, and every now and again a helping hand off the floor. Phil helped me build (when I say helped I mean he built it and I watched appreciatively) my first custom bike; I’ll never forget the feeling of walking in to his lounge holding a frame and a big box of beautifully shiny components (I’m half magpie) and walking out three hours and a couple of beers later with a complete, operational and beautiful bike. Fast forward four years and I’m working in the bike industry, living the dream, thanks to the patience of a few who waited for me when I was even slower than I am now – who’d have thought it! Cheers guys!