From zero to sportive hero… in a year!

 

At Islabikes we’re proud of the fact that so many of our staff are enthusiastic bike riders. However, not everybody arrives at Islabikes a keen cyclist. Our office and HR manager, Sarah Worrallo didn’t even own a bicycle when she joined Islabikes in June 2016. Now, a year later, she’s just completed her first tough sportive. We spoke to Sarah about her first year on the saddle.

“Within two weeks of starting Islabikes I received my Beinn 29 and, because I had this loan bike, I felt like I should do something with it. My colleague, Suzanne, was very encouraging. We’d cycle three or four miles to and from work together a few times a week. Then Suzanne suggested we go for a bike ride on a Saturday morning. It just built up from there.

“At the beginning of 2017 Isla started doing a female-only mountain biking group on a Thursday night. Since February of that year we’ve been doing a lot of singletrack and climbing.
“It’s not competitive, nobody gets left behind. It’s just about going out every Thursday night with a great bunch of people and having a bit of a chinwag.
It’s nice to meet up with women from a diverse age group who are all into cycling. Through that my confidence has grown.”

In fact, Sarah’s confidence has grown so much that she accepted the task of participating in last year’s Danny Mason Highlands Challenge (formerly known as the Shropshire Highlands Challenge): a 65-mile sportive through some of Shropshire’s most beautiful, and tough hills.

“It was so hard!” Sarah laughs. “I think I moaned a lot on the way round, mainly as the hills were enormous. My friend and I cycled from 8.45am to 5.30pm with three cake stops.
“It was the climbs, rather than the distance that was tough. We did 4,700ft of climbing and at the end there was one almighty hill. I found it mentally challenging but, apart from sore bum bones, I didn’t have any physical ailments.”

Despite her epic performance, Sarah doesn’t overplay her new interest. “I still class myself as a non-cyclist. Even with my clothes, I don’t use anything very fancy. I do have some lycra bottoms and a couple of proper cycling jerseys, but that’s so I have somewhere to put my phone and lip gloss — the essentials,” Sarah says.

Aside from a bit of cycling glamour, taking to two wheels has had a deeper and more important effect on Sarah’s general wellbeing.
“Just after I started working at Islabikes I was diagnosed with delayed post natal depression. I was struggling to sleep and I literally felt like I was cracking up. I went to the doctors and they put me on some medication, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about taking it. So, one of the reasons I upped my bike rides was to have a bit of timeout and give myself some headspace.”

“I changed quite a lot of my eating habits as well. Through cycling and healthy eating, I gradually stopped taking the medication in February and I feel fine now. Getting out in the fresh air more and eating healthily has really changed my life. I think going out on a bike can have massive mental health benefits.”

So, what does Sarah’s cycling future hold? Since her sportive debut, Sarah has taken part in the 43-mile Clun Sportive and a women’s only ‘bikes to the beach’ trip in September 2017 and says she’s looking forward to other challenges with confidence.
“I also use Strava to keep track of my miles, although my husband analyses my rides more than me! I’m not competitive at all. I’m going to stick with my routine of 10 or 15 miles on a Thursday night, maybe 20 miles on a weekend ride, and probably one ride to work a week.

I’m enjoying the cycling culture, so I can see my routine continuing. It’s nice to have that time out by myself, or with friends, and it’s all thanks to my Beinn 29.”

Sarah Cnoc racing

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