Ceri Baker took up cycling in 2013, and admits to starting almost completely from scratch.
Three years on though, with hundreds of Dartmoor training miles, a collection of completed events and a chance encounter with Sir Bradley Wiggins in the bank, she confesses that her and her friends – collectively known as the Ashburton Women on Wheels – are “totally hooked”.
“We started road biking to support a bereaved friend in completing the Dartmoor Classic in June 2013. Most of us didn’t even own bikes, and we started out in trainers, old gym kit, and were perhaps a bit overweight.
“Then within four months, we were totally hooked. The Wiggins effect certainly helped, as at the time, the country was all about road cycling, and our dormant, pre-childbirth, teen cyclist selves were reborn.”
It has been a second lease of life on two wheels that Ceri and her friends have certainly made the most of; the ten-strong group have taken part in the Dragon Ride, the Eden Classic, the Tour Ride and the Plymouth Gran Fondo, amongst others.
“We are fortunate to live on the edge of Dartmoor, where we ride a number of times a week. We ride all year for fitness and the love of riding, but also with a view to training for summer sportives. This year we are looking forward to our first Ride London and our annual Dartmoor Classic, and we have recently had our first self-led trip to Mallorca.
“It was there – in Puerto Pollensa – where one of our group almost literally bumped into Sir Bradley Wiggins. She accidentally visited the men’s toilets, and Sir Bradley was waiting to go in after her – queue one shocked reaction from her, and the rest of us vowing to never let her forget it!”
Encounters with Tour de France winners and Olympic champions aside, Ceri believes that the benefits of cycling can be felt by everyone:
“I would encourage everyone to take up cycling – anyone can. You’ll feel like a kid again! The hills can feel like hard work, but you’ll get fitter, feel amazing and be so proud of yourself. You also get to take time out from life….and maybe enjoy a beer afterwards!”