If you’re reading this, you may be where I was a couple of years ago, wanting a new hobby and/or a new way of keeping fit. After a summer of cycling with my cousin on a hybrid bike, I’d decided by September 2014 that I wanted to go ‘further and faster’ and that the hybrid wasn’t really conducive to what I wanted out of cycling. After googling cycling clubs, I came across VC Melyd’s website and emailed Mark Allen for some advice. Mark was very helpful and suggested I go to Marsh Tracks (MT) on a Monday evening for the ladies’ session, so one cold November evening I ventured to MT, hired a road bike and had my first ‘go’ on a road bike around the track. Wow! What a difference! This was what I’d been looking for in terms of ‘faster’ in any case. I joined the other beginners and Mark gave us an induction and we went round and round the small track, getting used to the bike and the gears and learning how to cycle safely on a road and how to deal with any obstacles along the way. I went to MT on Monday evenings through the winter, got used to the bike, the gears and progressed to join the experienced group on the bigger track. Everyone was very friendly and some had been cycling for years and obviously loved cycling. We had to fill in some paperwork and one of the questions was ‘what do you want to achieve from attending the MT sessions?’ – my answer was to be good enough to join a club ride on a Sunday.
Fast forward to April 2015 when I did the Gran Fondo Conwy ‘bach’ route on my hybrid. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the atmosphere, the only downside was that I was on my hybrid and the majority were on road bikes. By this time, I’d also been on one or two ladies’ ride on a Thursday evening and again they were all on their road bikes and I was on my hybrid. That was it, decision made. After months of reading articles about bikes and cycling, I treated myself to a road bike and although I was very apprehensive about the cleats and being “clipped in” I knew I had to do it. When I went to collect the bike, I was lucky enough to be able to try out the bike and cleats in the company of staff who were very helpful and gave me some confidence with clipping-in and unclipping.
The Thursday night ladies’ ride was a great way to get used to cycling as part of a group. Everyone was very friendly and able to offer advice and answer any questions I had about cycling. In July I went on my first Sunday intermediate ride and loved it; we went to Llanrwst and obviously there were hills but what goes up must come down and in North Wales you won’t go far without a hill so it’s best to get used to them sooner rather than later. I took part in the Manchester 100 ride in September and did my first 100 mile ride; it was a great day out and hardly any hills, which was a treat!
Group rides are great for a number of reasons: there’s safety in numbers, an opportunity to meet new people, try new routes and new roads and it’s a really good way of improving as a cyclist as you tend to go that little bit faster than you would on your own. Also, what’s really fantastic about VC Melyd rides is that there’ll be regular stop and re-group points, so if you are having a bit of an off-day and not quite able to keep up then don’t panic, everyone will stop, wait, re-group and then start off again together.
So there we go, a taster of my first year of cycling with VC Melyd. I would encourage anyone who has a bike and enjoys cycling to go to one of the regular Marsh Tracks coaching sessions. Ladies on a Monday evening at 7pm, under 12’s on a Thursday at 6pm and open session on Thursday at 7pm. You’ll meet a lot of nice people who are very welcoming and encouraging and you’ll soon have a new hobby where you’ll become familiar with all the nice cafes in the area as a coffee and cake stop is obligatory on a bike ride!