Amy Sedghi is now an avid cyclist - she’s undertaken many multiday adventures, and even rides on the velodrome at Herne Hill.
But it hasn’t always been that way - here’s her story, brought to you in association with ŠKODA - a brand that is dedicated to increasing participation in cycling this summer.
I still remember the moment I properly fell in love with cycling. It was during a windswept day riding through the Yorkshire Dales; the light was beginning to fade as we raced back to our accommodation and my stomach was growling at me but I was giddy with excitement at the sights I'd seen that day. I was very much just starting to acquaint myself with my beloved Liv Avail and was clad in a hand me down men's jacket with the arms folded over about twice, yet I recall being struck by the breadth of what you could explore on two wheels, all the while getting close enough to appreciate it with all your senses.
The aforementioned bike has travelled far and wide with me now: we've climbed up the passes of the Fred Whitton Challenge - one of Britain's toughest sportives -together twice, raced crit at Herne Hill Velodrome and battled the windy and stunning landscapes of the Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Man and more. But once upon a time, she sat unused in my flat as I was scared to cycle even five minutes down the road.
I've suffered with anxiety and depression for a while and although cycling isn't a complete solution to either, it has proved to be my tonic. The journey from the bike sat gathering dust in the hallway to it sitting in this hostel on the Isle of Lewis where I'm writing this now, sleepy with a big grin on my face from cycling some of Scotland's finest scenery, has been long. Don't doubt that.
It's involved patience (from myself and others), ups and downs, as well as tears - a mix of sadness, frustration and joy. But what's also undoubtedly true is that it's brought me some of the best experiences of my life and introduced me to some of my closest friends.
I can't easily name one thing that changed my mind about getting on the bike, it was a culmination of things and a mish-mash of supportive pals, acquaintances and being influenced by the great sporting feats of the Team GB cycling squad. One place that has helped me develop in confidence and fostered a lot of those cherished relationships has been through taking up track cycling down at Herne Hill Velodrome in south-east London.
Riding around on a banked track, clipped onto your bike with no gears might seem as far removed from being meditative and peaceful as you could imagine, but trust me when I say it can clear your mind, boost your confidence and leave you feeling exhilarated. I also love cycling on the road and have recently dipped a toe in cyclo-cross and bikepacking - all things I couldn't have imagined doing once upon a time. But that's the great thing about cycling: with every ride it shows you how capable you are and the freedom it gives you is truly special. Freedom to explore, to meet friends, see different landscapes and experience new things.
A guy I met as we crossed over on the ferry with our bikes today said to me: "remember, not everyone gets to see this", as he waved an arm at the approaching landscape of the Isle of Harris. It's a simple truth but something worth holding on to. Getting out on your bike can change not only the way you see things, but it can also change the way you experience your life and surroundings.
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