2018 has been a great year for friendships. I have reconnected with old friends, Made a ton of amazing new ones and spent quality time with friends I have known since I was a young girl. I have also learned to distance myself from those who don’t make me feel good. Its tough when you grow apart but it’s life. We change, we grow up and sometimes we just need to take a step back and face the truth that some people don’t make us feel good anymore.

This September, one of my oldest friends and I cycled to Paris to raise money for Women v Cancer. We didn’t start training until April due to the awful snow that plagued us at the start of the year. Neither of us had ridden road bikes before and I had never cycled on the road, so my hubby wouldn’t allow me to ride on my own. We had 6 months to get ready for cycling what turned out to be 250 hilly miles in less than 6 months!! At this point I was panicking!! I knew I needed to find a cycling club that welcomed inexperienced riders and I needed to do it quickly! Thankfully I managed to find one right on my doorstep and joining it was one of the best things I have ever done. They are truly the nicest group of people I have ever met.  All from different walks of life but all equally as genuine, welcoming and helpful. They made me feel safe and taught me so much with their invaluable guidance and advice. They are now my friends and without them, I would never have been ready for the challenge.

On September 20th the day was finally here. We were setting off from Hampton Court at 8.30am. By this point, I was exited, nervous & extremely apprehensive but I was ready. At the back of my mind I told myself, whenever it gets tough, remember, ‘you are raising money for women that are fighting cancer right now and If they can do that, you can damn well do this.’ 

Well… With the lack of sleep, early starts and long days in the saddle, it was the hardest thing both mentally and physically, I’ve ever done. It was however, one of the greatest.

The long days were challenging but the scenery was breathtaking! There was a fantastic support crew & more food than i’ve ever consumed in my life, but the icing on the cake and best part of the challenge for me were the people we met. Amongst them, were the most inspiring group of women. In normal everyday life, I would never have crossed paths with these lovely ladies. During the three days, we ate together, laughed together & cried together. Three of the women we met were sisters. I had followed them on Instagram before the challenge and recognised them at the start of the second day. Another was a Vicar, something I didn’t learn about her until after we’d reached Paris. She helped me on several occasions. The first was on our first day. I’d lost my friend and was struggling with traffic, fighting the headwinds and was close to tears when she caught up to me and rode with me to Portsmouth. I honestly don’t think I’d have made it that first day without her. There were so many more. A special mention is definitely needed for one of them. She was 73!!! Can you even imagine finding the courage to tackle something that huge at 73?!!. She was hilarious too. A total inspiration to anyone that says they are too old to exercise. Her attitude to ‘living’ was incredible. So many of us had never ridden on road bikes before. One lady didn’t even know how to use the gears, but she made it. We made it together and as a group, we raised Β£343,016.48 for Women v Cancer. I will class these women as my friends for years to come, they made the journey more than I ever thought it could be.

Aside from these incredible ladies, I must thank everyone for their support. From the gorgeous ladies (and men) who came to our fundraising event, to everyone that was kind enough to sponsor me and to my Mom. She, as always, went above and beyond to help me reach my target and to those who donated during the challenge, you all helped me keep going. Thank you so very much.

On Saturday 15th December, I was in the company of another group of friends and it made me realise just how incredibly lucky I am. I have been blessed with wonderful friends and I will try to cherish them all. 

In the new year I am off to the Brecon Beacons with another, very special friend.  I only met her three years ago on holiday, yet I feel like I’ve known her forever. I honestly didn’t ever imagine wanting to go on a walking holiday, let alone on in January but I cannot bloody wait.

There have of course been many other events this year, some good, some sad, some just indifferent. 2019 however, is still unwritten, but I am super exited to enter it with the love of my life. We will make some new adventures, meet new friends and create more stories. I hope you do the same. Cherish your friends, create new memories and most of all… enjoy the ride! πŸ™‚

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