Cycling really has been life changing for me. Although I had a highly successful and rewarding career, I had always planned to retire at 55. However, I was so driven by working for myself that the chosen date came and went, unnoticed. It was only a personal event, that occurred as I approached 58, that made me stop and take stock. So it was that, close to my 58th Birthday, I completed my final contract and officially retired – what could possibly go wrong?
I soon realised I wasn’t happy. The adrenaline that fuelled my business life was now swamping me and creating anxiety. From being ‘Someone’ I now felt like I was no longer contributing and had lost my identity. This became so bad that I took on some more business contracts to have a focus for my energy, but only in the Middle East during our winter – I’m not one to miss an opportunity! It was in the following spring that an acquaintance suggested I take up road cycling. I had always owned a bike of some sort but never ridden seriously. I agreed to give it a try but with two stipulations – no hills and definitely no Lycra! My love affair with cycling was about to begin.
The freedom of being out in the fresh air and maintaining fitness had a huge effect on my mental and physical well-being, but I now wanted to meet others to ride with.
The freedom of being out in the fresh air and maintaining fitness had a huge effect on my mental and physical well-being, but I now wanted to meet others to ride with. I checked out the British Cycling Let’s Ride website for local groups, only to find there were none in the Grantham area. So I applied to become a British Cycling Ride leader to fill that gap. After the online training and assessment day, I qualified. I now found myself encouraging others into cycling and helping to build their confidence, which is hugely rewarding and gave me a purpose. I’ve also just qualified as a British Cycling accredited route planner, so will always be happy to suggest suitable routes for all standards.
To help with the demands of ride leading, I purchased a Ribble e-assist gravel bike, to join my stable of road and mountain bikes. I was so pleased with it that I made a one-off review on YouTube. Much to my amazement, this had thousands of views and I was being asked for more. That was August 2020 and now, 16 months later, my channel ‘Ride with Roy’ has 1,800 subscribers and over 200,000 views. Below is a video that details how I got into cycling, which you might like to watch.
Coming up with new ideas and creating them is time consuming but fun and highly rewarding.
I then found myself questioning the difficulties cyclists have with our local infrastructure, especially the new and inexperienced riders I met. I tried to open dialogue with the local authority but was getting nowhere. This is when I turned to Cycling UK for advice. They suggested I join their growing band of Advocates in the UK. I did and, as if by magic, doors were opened and I even found myself being contacted for my input, including being co-opted as a stakeholder to the Grantham Transport Strategy Group, organised by Lincolnshire County Council. The actions planned by LCC are impressive and they are listening to advice from those of us with experience in all forms of transport. I did feel that Grantham was being left behind, but not any more.
Oh, and I did succumb to the comfort of Lycra and the challenge of hills. My longest ride so far is 155 miles and I want to build on this to enter some Audax rides, in 2022. There are also other plans afoot for a coast to coast ride. So from struggling with adapting to retirement, ten years on I am now considering taking a full time job just so I get some holiday!
Inspired by Roy? Find cycling advice and resources in our cycling section.
Visit the Ride with Roy Youtube channel to find more advice and inspiration.