Police Unity Tour – 180 miles over 3 days

Sam Chandler - Charity RideCycling had always been something other people did. The fit, sporty ones. Unlike me who maybe went out on her hybrid once a month on a sunny dry day. I remember panting and puffing up the hills whilst all the road bikes whizzed past me so effortlessly. ‘Oh how I wish I was them’ I used to say to myself. At this point I just resigned myself to being one of those people that was not ‘designed’ for anything which increased my heart rate!! I would go home and comfort myself with a huge tub of ice-cream or bar of chocolate whilst laid on the settee watching the omnibus edition of my favourite soap.

Summer 2017 my life totally changed. I remember meeting my friend Claire Champlin for tea who rode with the Sunday Girls cycling club based in Hull. Discussing the club over our carvery, I somehow agreed to ride with them the next morning. At the time I agreed because she was nagging me!! The next morning when my alarm sounded at 07:30 hours…. Yes on a Sunday too, my nerves kicked in. As I laid in bed questioning my mad decision my heart was pounding, my mouth was dry and I can honestly say I felt sick at the thought of cycling with a bunch of mega fit woman in their ‘designer’ gear’ who in my mind would judge me.

How wrong was I!   Literally within 5 minutes of meeting everyone on the ride, I was made to feel so welcome. The ladies in the group were so very friendly. There was all abilities and ages and everyone had different types of bikes and reasons for joining the club. Immediately I was made to feel so comfortable and accepted. I could not believe I had been so worried. My first ride was approximately 15 miles with a lovely coffee stop thrown in too. The support I had was incredible. I was never made to feel a burden, no one lost their patience with me for being too slow, or made me feel a hindrance. I can honestly say that day was life changing for me. I was totally hooked at this point and a week later I treated myself to my first road bike and have not looked back.

During the last 12 months, I have continued riding with the club on a regular basis. My confidence and fitness has grown and I have now participated in several sportives. Something I never thought was possible. Without the club, I would not have had the confidence to believe that I was fit enough to even consider this.

Sam Chandler

My most recent challenge was participating in the Police Unity Tour. The tour was 180 miles over 3 days, beginning at Humberside Police headquarters in Hull and cycling to the Arboretum in Staffordshire. This was to raise money for COPS (Care of police Survivors). The charity helps to support the survivors of Officers that have been killed on duty. The support is not just financial but also provides emotional support and links for the families to speak to others that have been through the same experience. The first day we cycled through red hot sunshine in temperatures of over 35, the second day was hills and gale force winds and the last day was torrential rain. We also had the usual mishaps which come with cycling, broken chains and punctures!! This event was certainly my hardest cycling challenge and 12 months ago I would have laughed if someone had told me I would be doing this. I would have honestly thought they were insane!! Me… cycling 180 miles. Never! Well I surprised myself and cycled every single mile. It was tough, at times I wanted to cry, my legs were burning, I literally hated my bike at times and swore I would never get back on it. Luckily that thought was very short lived as the following weekend after I was doing the Yorkshire Lasses Sportive. I must be a gluten for punishment or obsessed!

I can honestly say that I am now an avid cyclist. I love the feeling of freedom, the social side (most importantly the tea room stops and lovely cakes) and the fact that I feel so much fitter both mentally and physically. I now believe I can do anything!

I thank the Sunday Girls cycling club for inspiring, encouraging and believing in me and all of the other ladies that are members. Without them I would not have achieved what I have. I still ride regularly with the group, when work permits, as these ladies are all now my friends. Joining the club is the best thing I have ever done. Any lady that has doubts as to whether they are good enough, please leave these doubts to one side and just give it a go. I can honestly say through my own experience you will never look back. And if you decide cycling is not for you , you will make lots of new friends anyway.