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Never Say Never 

Lucy Rix and her husband in the Tour de YorkshireHave you ever said yes to something that a year ago you would have said no to? If your other half emailed you a ‘fancy this’ for the fourth annual Tour de Yorkshire bike ride on 6th May, all courtesy of Maserati, what would you say?

Being only five weeks away I went against my physio instincts telling me it wasn’t enough time to train, and reassured myself that it wasn’t a marathon. I put the fact that I hadn’t been on my road bike for two and a half years, since having a baby, to the back of my mind and just said “yes, why not.”

I took up road cycling in 2015 when I trained for my first sprint triathlon at Blenheim Palace. Even then, my training consisted of a maximum of three circuits round Richmond Park.

This time round, juggling childcare, work and asthma, I battled against the odds and got out for five big training rides getting dizzy round Richmond Park. By race day my biggest cycle had been 56km, with only a few hills to contend with. So a 84km ride in rare 26 degree heat with a several 10-12 per cent inclines should be OK, right?

My husband and I enjoyed a peaceful, child-free car journey to Leeds in the new Maserati Levante SUV. We fuelled up on delicious steak in the Gaucho with Maserati cycling ambassador David Millar, who, reminded us all how the Tour de Yorkshire had more spectators than the Tour de France and we would be urged, cattle belled and applauded up the hills.

On race day, we squeezed ourselves into new Lycra and smothered ourselves with sun cream- anything to help aerodynamics. We stuffed our pockets with snacks and maximised our water capacity.

I had done enough training to know I could road cycle again but the rest was all a first. Being a main sponsor, Maserati got our group to the front of the start line in the centre of Leeds. I did not feel worthy. I’m so amateur, I don’t even clip in.

The hum of the 4,000-strong Lycra hive getting ready and the adrenalin firing up to be burnt off, was enough to make my knee caps wobble. Just before the start, I realised how inclusive cycling is. There were young and old and every kind of body shape, tattoos adorning slick calves, every beard combination and lots of ladies too.

Then we were off, on the endurance test of my life so far.

We passed through Otley, Pately Bridge and at the most northern point Kirkby Malzead, before turning back towards Leeds with eyes on the finish line in Millennium Square. The British countryside twinkled with every shade of green, bejewelled with golden yellow from the rape, dandelions and gorse. My patient husband, the two pit stops and Hot Chillee ride captains (thank you Michelle!) were life savers. With only 20 km to go, left adductor cramp and right leg sciatica I wondered if I would complete the course. But after a lot of burn, snacks, some tears and a few dismounts on my part, we did it!

Lucy Rix and her husband and friends Tour de YorkshireIt was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done (yup, harder than having my daughter at home!). Expert route designers described the undulating route as “bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘up-hill’ and ‘down dale’”, so I know I wasn’t being lame.

Before this, I had never cycled more than 56 km. We nailed 84 km in four and a half hours and conquered inclines that would make a car groan. The Otley Chevin climb was ridiculous.

Next time I will have to do the even longer 129 km route, and clip in…. never say never!


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