I’ve never been a particularly good team player. At school I always dreaded team sports and as an adult working in the corporate world I tried my hardest to avoid team building exercises where you had to decorate gingerbread houses and get judged on your ‘collaboration’.
To be honest with you, I much prefer solving problems on my own and most importantly doing it alone. I think that says a lot about why I am now self-employed, running a small copywriting business, away from any risk of being asked to collaborate!
That said, two years ago I took up road cycling and at the same time I started a blog called ‘Queen of the Mile’ where women could share their experiences and stories from the saddle. Having always been a runner, which is a typically solitary sport, I was used to going out alone and racking up miles. Cycling was different. It sparked a desire within me to ride with other people, learn from them and build a community.
Since those early days of cycling, I have actively grown a network of women cyclists that I meet without fail every week and go riding with. It might be for a few laps around London’s Regents Park or it could be a longer distance micro-adventure out to Surrey or Kent or even abroad.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong to a team that I want to nurture and collaborate with. I have realised through cycling that it is from sharing experiences that you make some of the best friendships. This could be helping each other to change a tyre at the side of the road or letting someone sit close to your back wheel, in your slipstream, if they are struggling.
Riding with these women allows me a chance to destress, share what is on my mind, talk about money, careers and life. It almost provides a sort of two-wheeled therapy session, during which you have fun, get fit and travel to somewhere new.
Cycling on my own would not be as fun and whilst I still cherish my own company, I am always looking forward to the morning rides or the weekend adventures we have planned.
I feel like this network has also enhanced my sense of belonging within London, my city and hometown. I explore more of it with my cycling group and my bike gives me a chance to see new places that I would have missed travelling underground on public transport.
Cycling has provided me with a like-minded network of women and has connected me to the city I love. It has a rare power to bring people closer together, allowing them to build friendships, de-stress and go exploring all at the same time.