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Holly Blades: Cycletta Blog #1

by Holly Blades

Holly BladesAs a result of months of peer pressure, Cyclosport's team of riders managed to persuade writer and self-confessed non-cyclist Holly Blades to undertake a cycling challenge in 2012. Follow Blades as she learns to ride a bike again and takes on Cycletta with some guidance from people who know what they're doing.

So, back in January as part of my duties at, I sat in on a meeting of our rider/reviewers where we collated their calendars and discussed who wanted to ride and review which event. It had been mentioned in jest that I should ride a sportive before the year was out, but what I didn't know was that editor Adam had been mulling the idea over in his mind and decided it was time to make it more than jest.

And, whilst I now no longer work for full time, I find myself wondering if I signed something in blood after all of those "Lunchtime Meeting Pints". I'm sitting writing this signed up for the women's only ride Cycletta in Cheshire in October having gotten out of breath climbing the stairs this morning.
I've not ridden a bike with anything less than complete and utter fear since I was about 9. An incident involving a Jens Voigt style face plant down a country road somewhere in the Dordogne, and the remainder of a family holiday trying to click my front teeth back into position and picking chunks of gravel out of the bridge of my nose somewhat dampened my youthful exuberance for the sport.

But, as many longtime readers know, it never dampened my slightly more jaded adult exuberance when it came to watching the sport on the telly, safe in the knowledge that it's not me at risk of becoming one with the concrete.

I found myself agreeing to ride Cycletta. And then, in a move that I still don't really understand, I found myself looking forward to it! And from there, it kind of snowballed.

I've got a bike. Which helps, I guess.

My boyfriend, Matt, offered to train me up for the event. But while I'm still learning to stay upright, he rode the Giro d'Italia, amongst other things. I have mental images of him dropping me on climbs. Or dropping me as I'm still figuring out how to clip in my cleats and he's disappearing into the distance. The only thing that gives me any hope is that he's as clown footed as myself and so has absolutely no (clown-shoed) leg to stand on when I "Mrs Doyle" it into the grass verge.

I use the term "Mrs Doyle" to describe that slow motion fall caused by nothing but your own ineptitude, so named after the Father Ted character's attempt to get down from the windowsill after hanging Christmas decorations. If you'd seen that episode, and seen me try and ride a bike, all would become clear. Seriously. I'm the type of rider who can't take her white-knuckled hands off the handlebars to have a scratch or take a drink, and god forbid I have to steer in a direction that isn't the direction I'm looking in...

It's shiny, and white, and fast. I assume.

It was a month or so later that things got serious and I decided to get myself a shiny new Specialized. Thanks to them for their help. Their support was mainly because Specialized already partner Cycletta, but partly, I'm sure, because they realised that seeing me trying to stay upright on a pretty fancy racer, when remaining vertical on my beaten up Claud Butler proved enough of an issue, was a sight they couldn't afford to pass up.

And so, I find myself the proud owner of a Specialized Dolce Elite. A pretty little number I've named Elizabeth due to collecting her from Samway's in Derby on Jubilee weekend, and because it allows me to call her "SpeciaLiz". Geddit?  Sigh. Our good friends at Science In Sport have agreed to provide me with some kind of nutritional advice once I supply them with a training schedule, and I already have my kit hanging and ready.

Here's some people that look better on bikes than me, including an Olympic Champ

I'll be blogging my progress here at for you to follow, including tips I'll have picked up being trained by a former National Champion, and by being advised by SiS - one of the biggest nutritional companies in the sport. All this whilst getting to grips with my beautiful Specialized SpeciaLiz in an effort to not injure or embarrass myself come October. And maybe even get a little healthier.
My god, I'm terrified. HB

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1 Comment

15th June 2012 9:28am wrote:

Go for it, pick small goals and enjoy getting out.