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Novice cyclist mum swept up by Triathlon race rides 21km route

55-year old cyclist of two weeks, Alison Carrick, egged on by spectators felt like she "couldn't get off," but called the experience "amazing"...

Going from zero cycling to taking part in a triathlon in the space of two weeks is unimaginable for most of us. Yet, that's exactly what mother-of-three Alison Carrick did when she was unwittingly caught up in a 21km bike race in Helmshore, Lancashire two weekends ago.

The primary school teacher from Haslingden - just two kilometres away from the race start - found herself among 250 dripping wet lycra-clad cyclists riding a route around Lancashire countryside as part of the 11th Rossendale Triathlon.

Though, despite her lack of lycra, riding experience, and racing bike, Mrs Carrick completed the course aboard her trusty second hand hybrid.

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In an interview with the Mirror she said that she "didn't have a clue what was happening at the start."

Though, upon realising that she'd somehow found herself in the midsts of a triathlon, she reportedly  thought "'Oh my goodness, what does this mean for me?'" Adding that she "just didn't realise we were taking the same route.

"I should have stopped and made my way back but I just felt like I had to keep going.

"I kept thinking it can’t be that much further. I don’t think I realised how far the cycling part of it actually was."

Despite those early fears and upon completing the 21-kilometre route, she said that "the experience was amazing, people were all cheering me on.

“I wasn’t pretending to be part of it," she added. "I didn’t have any of the right gear but people were encouraging me to keep going when I got off and pushed the bike. The stewards kept directing me where to go.

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“At the time I felt like I should have a basket on the front with a baguette in it, I was going that slow."

It was the cheers, and a set of stewards with a clear sense of humour, that were the catalyst for Ms Carrick's bizarre but brilliant achievement. In her own words she was far from prepared, yet her achievement should be a signal to all of us that we're much more capable than we perhaps think we are.

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"I was hardly up for a triathlon," she said. "But I got caught up exactly the moment they started. It felt like I couldn’t get off it.

“I have only been cycling for a fortnight so my fitness levels are not great.

“Once you get caught up in something like that you can’t stop. I have not cycled for a long, long time, I’d only thought I was going to do five or six miles. Now I know I can do 18."

Event organiser Graeme Courtney was dumfounded when he found out. He believes Mrs Carrick was the first non-competitor to ever take part in the Rossendale Triathlon and encouraged her to take part properly next year.

“She’s got a year’s worth of training to get ready for next year’s race,” he said.

 “It’s brilliant that she managed to do it, and we’re always looking for new members at the club."

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When asked what's next for her cycling career, Mrs Carrick was coy at first:

“I have not been able to get back on the bike since because my legs are like jelly," she said. "But now I want to be somewhere near as fit as some of those cyclists that shot past me.”

If you are in a similar situation to Mrs Carrick, in that you've just started cycling again, or you know someone who has just started, dotted throughout this article are links to a variety of our guides for new cyclists.

Whether you need help deciding on the right bike, the right clothes, or the tools to buy, we can help you.

If you've got any more questions, feel free to ask away in the comment section.

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