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Girl on an adventure: group bike rides

Good’s wellness writer Rachel Grunwell is gearing up (literally) for her latest adventure – a 100km bike ride from Christchurch to Akaroa. Check out her second blog in this series about the challenge ahead.

Cyclist Emma Hadley instructs us all on some of the rules of riding and tells us about the cycle route for the morning. We’re all beginners here. That’s a good feeling...

I was nervous about going on my first ever group bike ride. So, I decided to invite a friend.

I knew my friend Michael Keall had a road bike. So, I text him to join me at the Hot Cycles group ride (which goes from the Auckland suburb of St Heliers).

His response: “Sounds like one of those grim-faced fast-moving densely-packed herds who all go to hospital together if one of them loses balance… but you go ahead!”

So, of course I took this as a sign that he could be easily persuaded into joining me.

I text back to tell him that I had a bike rack and could swing by and pick him up. All he needed to do was to haul his body out of bed early. I reasoned: “who sleeps in with kids anyway?”

He told me he would “think about it”. I told him “But I’ve thought about it for you already! Chuckle, chuckle…”

In the end, I twisted this poor lawyer’s arm…

We were among a dozen riders in the beginners bunch ride – taken by cyclist Emma Hadley. We rode leisurely from St Heliers, along the waterfront, through Karangahape Rd and later through Saint Mary’s Bay, under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and along the waterfront again and back to the start-point in St Heliers. Everyone looked out for each other and no one was left behind (phew). It was nice to chat mid-cycle to some fellow beginner riders including a school teacher and cyclists aged from their 20s to 60s. It was nice to be among fellow beginner cyclists.

The group ready to go!

It felt like we had been cycling for an hour, but it turned out to be for over 90-minutes. We covered 36km and despite feeling a bit nervous on some downhills… I enjoyed the ride – and so did Michael. In fact, he is the one who text me this week to ask when are we going out on the bike again? Who is twisting whose arm now!

Another Mike will join us soon too for training. TV3’s Mike McRoberts is back from covering the earthquakes in the South Island now. He is keen to get his cycle training kick started next week after picking up a bike.

Meanwhile, in next week’s column I’ll talk about the advice I get from endurance coach and experienced cyclist Richard Greer, who will help train me for this amazing adventure. Hopefully he can help me with feeling less freaked out going downhills… gulp.

Rachel is Good’s wellness columnist and the director of the lifestyle website www.inspiredhealth.co.nz . Follow her on Inspired Health’s Facebook and Instagram pages.