I suppose my story starts at a point before I started cycling.
The reason for this is that I think I have always wanted to cycle but the idea of choosing and buying a bike with no knowledge of the sport seemed impossible, I was also scared to go out on my own and joining a club as a complete novice seemed not just intimidating but almost undoable.
A colleague at work had told me about “some women in your area that you could ride with” and that is how I came across a community of cyclist called BellaVelo. In August 2017 I bought my bike, and it looked lovely sitting in the bay window where it lived for the next eight months. It was in May 2018 that I finally braved up and joined a beginner’s ride. To put this into perspective, at this point I had never pumped my own tyres on my bike, let alone changed one.
BellaVelo are famed for their friendliness and amazing community vibe. Hot Chillee are famed for their expert Ride Captains so we have asked them to teach group riding skills as well as how to pace rides to our prospective BV Ride Leaders (RL). A Saturday session led by them on 12th Jan will combine some theory with a short group ride followed by a Q&A. For this and for future sessions each BV Ride Leader will be paired with their own HC mentor. Alongside this same mentor, and with the aim of putting what you have learned into practise, you will also be needed to assist on two HC monthly rides.
A RIDE TO THE NEW FOREST WITH RELATIVE STRANGERS
Being a relatively new cyclist, I agreed to sign up for a challenge without thinking too much about it, and put my name down for Mallorca 167 in early autumn. As the realisation of what I had committed myself to settled in, the days were already getting shorter and the temperatures had significantly dropped. I knew it would be hard to find opportunities for long rides, and decided to try out a ladies group riding at Richmond Park that I had heard of before. Hence the beginning of my BellaVelo adventure…
By Tharina Cronjé (TC)
In March 2015 I saw a tweet about a new cycling shop for women that opened in Surbiton. They were hosting shop rides every two weeks.
My very good friend that I always cycled with on the road moved back to South Africa and I seriously lacked some riding partners with the same ability. Coming from a mountain biking background and not familiar with riding in big groups I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined BellaVelo for a ride. I met the lovely Belinda with her radio voice and many other ladies. After that initial ride I dragged my friend Liezl along.
I’ve met the most lovely and diverse group of ladies since I’ve moved to this country 13 years ago. The friendship, banter, encouragement and camaraderie is second to none and it is with pride that I tell others about our cycling community/cycling club. Every ride leaves me with a smile on my face and reminds me of how it all started.