Louise Minchin - why I love getting on my bike
PUBLISHED: 20:19 09 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:19 09 April 2017
The popular BBC TV presenter from Chester is getting on her bike this month, and urges you to do the same, or go for a run or a swim...
I expect by now, you will have noticed the boisterous new advert from Sport England’s This Girl Can, campaign celebrating everything wobbly, jiggly, and sweaty. I love it for its enthusiasm, for the fact that none of the women in it are actors or models, and they are clearly enjoying getting out there and doing something active, whether it is rugby, roller-derby or running to the end of the street.
It is to my great regret that at about fifteen, I gave up competitive sport, right when I was becoming a competent and competitive swimmer. Like so many teenage girls, and I imagine boys too, I had become increasingly self-conscious and uncomfortable about how I looked. Instead of celebrating my powerful, muscly shoulders, as I do now, I had begun to think they made me look unfeminine. So, very abruptly I stopped swimming. I stopped the races and stopped the training. When I look back now, I think what a terrible shame that was. I had loved it so much, and it was such an important and fun part of my life, especially in the difficult period of trying to navigate my way into adulthood and through a whole series of important exams.
It was 30 years before I did any competitive sport again, and it was because BBC Breakfast organised a Christmas Cycle Race Challenge in the Velodrome in Manchester. Having never ridden a racing bike before, I beat Bill Turnbull my former BBC Breakfast co-presenter by five hundredths of a second: the most satisfying half second of my life! That flash across the finish line was a eureka moment, and reminded me how much I loved sport, both the racing and the training.
Four years on, I have now competed in the World and European Triathlon Championships in my age group. That has been a fantastic adventure, and I have made many friends along the way, but the best thing about it, is that getting out, and being active is part of my life. Whether it is swimming in Manley Mere, cycling round Beeston Castle, or running by the River Dee with Waffle my dog cantering along beside me, it is an exhilarating escape for me, and helps me to feel happy. There is nothing that gives me more of a sense of achievement than being soaked and out of breath having forced myself to do a run in the rain.
Now summer is on its way why not, get out there and get active? My best days are when I surprise myself and do something I think I can’t. Not only can ‘This Girl Can’, I think ‘We All Can’.
I’m looking forward to...
Going on an intensive triathlon training camp in Spain.
I’m not looking forward to...
Trying to re-assemble my bike so I can ride it when I get there.