One of the participants in the women's beginner spins had her own special reasons for doing so. Last Sunday she completed the Great Dublin Bike Ride, and below Bridget Cullen shares her motivation.

My Journey to the Great Dublin Bike Ride

Bridget Cullen

No doubt everyone has their own different reason for joining a cycling club. Hoping to lose a kilo or two, maybe, or break it off with the couch, or just try something new. Mine was different too. It was all about grief.

My beautiful sister Ann died on September 14th in 2014, after a long, three-year fight with breast cancer. People who have lost someone extremely close will understand just how overwhelming and all consuming that grief is. It takes over your life, to the point where you're not properly living any more yourself. I needed a focus to get me back to living, and Ann was my inspiration. As a wonderful mother, a wife and sister, and in her career as a solicitor, she always met life head on. How could I not be inspired by her now, as I always had been when she was with us?

I decided I was going to deal with this grief the Ann way: head on. On a bike. I joined Orwell Wheelers in July, with the encouragement of my friend Charlotte O'Brien. Meeting the group regularly, especially for those Saturday spins, has been amazing, inspiring, invigorating and a lot of other words that end in -ing. Try tiring, perspiring and utterly knackering, for starters. But uplifting too. In truth, being in a group where your achievements, no matter how small, are encouraged and celebrated is more uplifting to a battered and bruised spirit than perhaps even many of the group realise, at least for me. But then again, maybe making it to the top of Johnny Fox's hill isn't that small an achievement!

Our main goal was to accomplish the Great Dublin Bike Ride, and we did it, with no small thanks to our dedicated leaders Gerry, Rodney, Leonard, Warren and others. Considering some of us had hardly ever cycled beyond a short commute to work, I think it's a safe bet that getting fit for a 100km cycle on September 13th would not have happened without them.

There's no doubt that two wheels and the open road are a great way to get in touch with yourself, work through things and find a way to wellness. It's work, but the rewards are real. And you don't get there alone. Thank you again to the wonderful team leaders, and to everyone in the group. And thank you Ann. You're a wonderful sister.