The journey began where all athletic journeys begin, at the local gym

I’ve always loved riding a bicycle but didn’t realize how much until I took it from the occasional once-in-a-while weekend activity to the next level. 

The journey began where all athletic journeys begin, at the local gym. I started to attend fitness classes to lose some weight after recovering from a knee injury. When winter came, I started going regularly, trying out available classes and, as you probably can tell from the title, cycling was what I enjoyed most. Day  after day I got more and more involved, and before I even realized, I was excited for the spring to come and start riding outside. 

First, out of my comfort zone, was at the Road Cycling Weekend. I’ve heard about these rides organized around the nearest small hill from some friends I’ve made at the gym and I decided to join them.I was surprised to see around 50 cyclists, men, and women (fewer women, but still), from a wide range of ages and fiziques, gathering to get back in shape after the winter months. 

At first, my mountain bike, which I used for all-terrain purposes except for the mountain because I live in a mostly flat area, was my companion. Of course, I struggled and broke my record in terms of distance when riding the first 30, 60 km. Moreover, I managed to conquer that small climb completely, without stopping, only in my third-weekend attempt or so, and what a huge achievement that was! 

Curiosity peaked. Interest activated. I wanted more.

I borrowed a road bike to experiment and already after the first pedal strokes, feeling how fast and easy it was to pedal on the pavement with this kind of bike, I knew I had to have my road-specific model, which happened very, very soon after.

In the first couple of months, besides the new skills required to handle and maintain my new “F1 bike” (I named it that cause that’s how it felt), I stumbled upon constant new things to learn: the tech gadgets and apps to measure and monitor activities (distance, heart rate, cadence, etc), the dedicated equipment, especially the clip-in pedals and shoes, and much more, it made my head spin, but I was DETERMINED!

Of course this new found passion came with a fair share of crashes. But, each time I got back on the bike and continued to train, I was ambitious and highly motivated by the sense of freedom I felt during my rides, the desire to be able to keep up the pace with other more experienced cyclists, and the urge to challenge my limits. Training hours per week increased, weekend rides got longer, climbs higher, and speed faster. Cycling became part of my lifestyle.

I joined a local cycling club and started participating in races and endurance competitions. Results were surprisingly good, considering that I had no major goals, just to enjoy riding in new places and to test my limits. I strongly believe that the most fierce competitor is yourself and the limits are only there to be exceeded. Continuing to train constantly, one and a half years later I even won the Romanian National Road Cycling Cup in the amateur women group, which was a huge and unexpected accomplishment.

Leaving aside the competitive part, cycling helps me experience a happier and healthier way of life. The fresh air, the ride along with the socializing specific part, the community spirit and not least, the benefits on the environment are excellent for the body and mind well-being. 

I explored many amazing places on two wheels, some of them I probably had not known about otherwise. My bike accompanies me now in my holidays and weekend get-aways. The freedom felt when cycling, the sense of adrenaline rush and achievement boosts self-confidence and awakens the inner child.