To celebrate national bike week 2018 we asked Alex Feechan, founder of FINDRA what it was that she loved the most about riding her bike and where that passion came from.
I can still remember to this day where and when I learned to ride my bike.
I was 8 years old and on a camping holiday in France with my family, my Dad had decided that this would be the year I would learn to cycle. After several days of learning how to pedal and get my balance I would cycle around the campsite slowly with my dad holding on to the back of my seat, I vividly remember looking behind me one day and realising I was on my own, my dad had let go and I had traveled quite a distance by myself, it was an exhilarating feeling even at 8. I was so pleased with myself that I had mastered this and absolutely loved the freedom riding my bike gave to me.
From then on there was no stopping me, I would cycle everywhere, to the shops for groceries for my mum, to school or around the streets where I lived.
I remember the summer of 81, my mum announced that it was time I got a new bike, visions of a cool Raleigh chopper flew through my mind as I pictured myself being the cool kid on the block. A few weeks later I was indeed presented with a Raleigh, a lovely lavender coloured and very lady-like Raleigh 20, complete with basket and bell! Dreams of being the cool kid were quickly dispelled but, it was a bike! The basket was quickly disposed of and once I adjusted to the colour and design I was delighted, it had 2 wheels after all and it was mine and I loved it. A few years ago when I went to Eroica the vintage bike festival in the Peak District with FINDRA I came across an exact version of my lovely bike, same colour and all! It was so lovely to see it; I was immediately transported back to my youth and the memories and emotions that I experienced during that time on my Raleigh 20. So many happy memories, of whizzing around on my little bike.
Like a lot of young girls, I stopped cycling at the age of 14, I don’t remember it being a conscious decision and I have no recollection as to why I stopped but I did and it would be 20+ years later before I got on a bike again. Fast-forward to my late 30’s and here I was flying around the Tweed valley. Having moved to Innerleithen I decided to join a group of women who went out mountain biking on the weekends. The idea was great in principle until I had to get myself on a bike! I was absolutely terrified as I hit the trails of Glentress what the hell was I letting myself in for! After a gentle and nervous start I soon got the hang of it and 2 hours later with the support and guidance of the women in the group and the trail leaders I was having a ball, from that point on I was hooked.
Yet again the feeling of freedom and liberation came flooding back to me just like when I was 8 in France. I found it exhilarating, working hard on the climbs, enjoying the amazing swooping trails on the way down was just the best feeling, and for me, it was a life changer in more ways than one!
Riding my bike is not about being the fittest or the fastest, for me it’s about getting outdoors and it’s about enjoying the journey, heading off into the hills taking in the view and enjoying the opportunity to be in nature. Taking it all in and enjoying the space that it allows. It’s about getting away from your pressures and worries and just getting back to what’s important in life, simple pleasures.