Transport for Greater Manchester have played a huge part in our lives as cyclists. But we never thought it would get us on the telly!
Their free courses helped us become road ready (lots of laps of the fire station forecourt), learn how to ride on the roads (including navigating a roundabout the size of a small Caribbean island), taught me how to use cleats (and gave me my first experience of the dreaded cleat fall, very impressively at a main junction!), and gave us the knowledge of how to maintain our bikes (even pumping our tyres up was a dark art in the beginning).
So it was with huge excitement that Louise and I put in an application, early in 2016, to their Women on Wheels initiative, which was offering to fund projects aimed at getting women on their bikes. We were lucky enough to be selected for funding and our event was a huge success (no one was more surprised than us two) and so when the fund opened to applications again for 2017, we were sharply onto it, submitting an application with the vision of a bigger and better event.
What we didn’t envisage was the publicity (and for two girls just making it up as we go along, this was very unexpected) we would generate. Getting an email last week asking if we would ‘do a piece for ITV’ was too good an adventure to turn down.
So it transpired that we, along with a group of our lovely WoW ladies, turned up at Leverhulme Park on the bitterly cold first Tuesday morning of 2017 to meet the journalist and photographer from the evening news programme.
Two hours later, after a few pieces ‘to camera’ by a couple of our success stories and a lot of riding round the park in a variety of directions, we decamped to the park cafe to thaw out and digest our morning. A cafe always features in our rides, so despite us having probably only cycled 500 metres, it seemed churlish not to partake of a brew, cheese on toast and excitement at ‘being on the telly!’
I can safely say that the following evening, waiting for the piece to air on the news, was more nerve wracking than any job interview. However the nerves disappeared once we had watched it (and rewatched for the umpteenth time) and appreciated the scale of the interest in women’s cycling.
The Facebook pages were inundated with enquiries and in her truly interminable style, Lou spent the evening replying to each and every one, encouraging and advising in equal measure.