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MUSINGS In a spin


Diary of a home bird
Ciara Galvin

SO there’s now just 12 days to the Western Lakes Ladies Sportive … and I’ve officially been out on a bike four times.
I obviously missed the advice in school about failing to prepare and preparing to fail, or whatever.
When I signed up to do the 64k scenic cycle around Lough Mask on September 27, I thought I would have ample time to hit the roads on my very kindly donated racer. Turns out, when you have a summer calendar of events that would give Queen Elizabeth a run for her money, it’s a little tricky to get on yer bike.
So I’ve been attempting to get out every Tuesday evening with the local cycling club in Ballinrobe. The ladies’ section of the club have specifically organised these Tuesday spins for beginners who hope to do the sportive at the end of the month.
Off I rolled to my first one last month with the boyf’s cycling helmet and sun glasses, hoping no one would recognise the wobble lycra-clad figure making its way to Cornmarket.
Not very au fait with the country roads, it’s been a mystery tour for me each training night. I could have been cycling Alpe d’Huez for all I knew – and believe me, in some parts I felt like I was traversing the side of a mountain.
That may have to do with my lack of understanding of both the bike I’m using, and the fact I’m not down with the cycling ‘lingo’.
About three miles into our first cycle I heard a shout come from the back of the group, ‘change up’. I looked around and saw people pedalling faster and of course afraid to ask what was happening I used my own initiative. (Note to self, never use own initiative.)
I decided I’d better ‘change up’ gears. There I was, cycling on the hardest gear level about to pass out, and too stubborn to move into an easier gear.
Then I was told to move up in the group, the real meaning of ‘Change up’.
‘Ok, that was a little embarrassing’, I thought, ‘but I’m getting there’.
Suddenly, there was another shout, ‘Car up’, followed by, ‘Car back’. Cue me wondering, why is the car ‘up’? And where is it ‘back’? And ‘Aaaahhhhhh’.
They say women can multi-task, but I must be the exception to the rule, because pedalling, changing gears and making sure to brake at the right time proved quite the challenge for me. I must have looked very antisocial not talking to anyone, but truth be told I was concentrating on not hurting myself or anyone else in the group by falling off the bike.
Still, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction after the weekly spins. Fresh air and burned calories obviously provide the excuse to eat five Toffee Pops and laze on the couch after dinner, right?
I do have to say, I’ve found a new level of respect for cyclists on the roads. Admittedly,  while driving I’d huff and puff waiting to overtake, but now I realise cyclists are entitled to the roads just as much as drivers. And, most importantly, I realise it’s hard to rock lycra when you’re not in an ’80s tribute band.

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old trying to get used to living away from her parents.