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Bike: Giant Defy 3
Where: Yeovil, Somerset
Cycling status: From nothing to commuter, to road rider, to time triallist
I hadn’t touched my old hybrid for five or six years, but I’ve always followed competitive cycling – whether it’s at the Olympics or the Tour de France – and after this summer I found myself looking at my old bike more and more.
When the Olympics finished I decided to buy a road bike. But I was thinking to myself: what’s the point of buying a road bike if you don’t use the bike you’ve already got? I was having lunch with my mum and dad and I was telling them about the road bike, and they asked if I thought I’d use it. So I came up with the idea: I’m going to commit myself to cycling 2012 miles over the next year and in the process raise £2012 for Save The Children.
I went home and at 11.30pm that evening, with this idea still going round in my head, I hopped on my old Trek hybrid and cycled the six miles to work and back in the pitch black. I thought, yes I can do this. Over the next couple of days I built up my confidence just doing short rides, getting my legs working.
Then I went down to my local bike shop. On the internet I’d been looking at the Giant Defy 3, which was way more than I ever expected to spend on a bike. But I had a quick spin on it around the car park and thought, well that’s streaks ahead of my hybrid. So I said, on the spot, I’ll have one of those and I picked it up the next day.
I was planning to do 40 miles a week, spread over a year, which roughly comes to my 2012 target. I thought that was all that I was capable of doing. But by the end of the first week I had done 122 miles and by the end of the second I had done 205 miles. I ended up cycling every day.
I put what I was doing on local cycling forums and Twitter and Facebook, then a lad from my local cycling club, Yeovil CC, contacted me. He told me about the cycling he did – he did time trials – so I looked on the club website and saw that they were holding a club time trial that night. I thought, why not give it a go?
I chucked the bike in the back of the car and drove to the Royal Navy Air Station where they were holding it. It was only a five-mile time trial, so it was quite doable. I did it in 16.18 minutes, meaning I was 19th out of 22, so I beat a few people. All the other riders were really welcoming and it was nice to meet a few people that had obviously been cycling a long time.
There’s not been a day where I haven’t cycled. Money wise I’ve raised £330 so far. And I think what I’ve been doing has nudged other people I know into a bit of action as well. I don’t run or cycle or do any sport, but seeing what I’ve been doing has spurred a few of my friends and colleagues into thinking about what they do in terms of exercise.
I should reach my target of 2012 miles well inside the year I planned. I’ve committed myself to cycling to work three days a week, and I want to keep at least one long ride in each week. I also want to do some of the 40 or 50-mile club runs with Yeovil CC and, if I can get my fitness levels up, I’d like to do more time trialling.
All this is definitely a result of what I saw elite cyclists doing this summer. I’ve watched and followed the Tour de France every year, but that’s never been enough to inspire me to get out on my bike – it was the Olympics and Bradley Wiggins’s Tour victory which had the effect. Seeing what can be achieved on a bike was constantly going through my mind, and it’s what has got me on my bike.
James Markey: going for broke
Jon Joynes’s cycling goal – to reach a target of 2012 miles in a year – is eminently do-able even for a new cyclist, but some of those inspired by the Wiggo Effect have bitten off decidedly more.
Take for example the case of 23-year-old former air conditioning engineer James Markey. We say ‘former’ because shortly after the Olympic James handed in his notice and decided he wanted to pursue cycling full-time, despite not having ridden a bike for five years.
“Around July time I was reading David Millar’s autobiography and that coincided with the Tour and it all just gave me a bit of inspiration, so I decided I would pack in my job and give cycling a proper go,” James said.
“At first I was doing 10-mile loops then I progressed slightly and more recently I’ve been doing 75-mile rides. I’m riding every day, I’ve just joined Coventry Cycling Club and after some advice I’ve also joined the West Midlands cyclo-cross league to gain some race experience. At the end of the month I’m entering the Cycle Show sportive at the NEC and at some point next year I’ll have a crack at racing.
“There’s a lot of pressure on me from my family to get a job, but as far as I see it, I’ve worked since I was 16 and I’ve saved up money so I’ll see how I get on. Life’s short, why do something you don’t really like doing, why not have a crack at something you actually enjoy?
“Turning professional would be the ultimate goal. But if I couldn’t do that, it would be nice just to say well: I’ve given it a go.”
MORE WIGGO EFFECTS
Rachael Levy: The speed queen
Linda Donaldson: Scaredy cat turned tiger mum
Tom Blake: Bike addict
Adam Green: From keen to commited
Pennington and Laurence Ellis: Box Hill habitués
This article was first published in the September 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.