Hi my name is Sam aged 29 and until the September before last I hadn't really cycled since I was a child.
I decided that I wanted to buy a bike to cycle to the gym rather than use my car all the time. I started my search on the internet for a suitable bike; I wanted one that was going to be fairly light, easy to ride on the road and bumpy paths. After reading reviews I decided I was going to buy a hybrid. I didn't want to buy a brand new one as they are quite expensive so started looking on eBay for a good second hand one. Whilst searching I came across an advert that said they had originally bought the bike to ride London to Paris. I immediately thought "wow" that sounds like a great challenge. I looked up online and it said that with training beforehand it was possible for anyone to do... so I signed up!
I wanted to cycle with a group to gain my confidence so I looked up on the internet for local cycling groups. This is when I came across Portsmouth CTC. I noticed they ran a few cycle rides a week, one on a Wednesday and a few over the weekends. I have Wednesday's off so that was ideal.
I turned up one Wednesday morning and everyone welcomed me. I was scared that I wasn't able to do the distance as I had never ridden more than 10 miles before, but I surprised myself and managed to complete the morning ride of about 30 miles. I then started going weekly and with the support of everyone in the CTC soon gained confidence and miles. I was amazed each week I would go home so ecstatic of the distance I had managed to do each time. In April last year I bought a road bike as realised that I was only using the bike for road and was told it would help me for my challenge ahead. Over time my legs got stronger and one of the cycling members said I should go up into the faster group. Again I was unsure but after trying it out I realised I could do it!
My cycle trip to Paris soon came round in July 2015 - I managed to cycle 316 miles from London to Paris. It was hard work, with some very challenging hills and long distances to ride each day but after 4 days I eventually found my self underneath the Eiffel tower. Wow, such an experience and to think that a year before hand I hadn't ridden a bike in many years. It was amazing and I would like to thank the CTC for all their encouragement and support they gave me.
If you think you can't do it, think again. Cycling is not only great exercise but you get to see the country in a different way and you'll surprise yourself at just how far you can go.