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Marion Villette the road to adventure

The Road to Adventure...

My cycling adventures started in July 2015. I live in the South West of France, riding whenever I'm not working. I've been cycling relentlessly and passionately since the summer, seeking to explore new horizons and to challenge myself.

When I think about how I got into cycling, I can't name any precise time or place; it feels more like a personal journey than like a sudden, conscious decision.

As far as I can remember, I've always owned a bike. That's how it works for most families where I grew up: kids have bikes and sometimes they ride it, sometimes they don't. I would ride my bike from time to time but it was never something that I kept up and I ended up outgrowing my last bike, which left me bike-less. A few years later, I started dating this cute guy who was really into bikes. He was really passionate about cycling, he liked everything about it. Somehow, he decided I needed to ride too, and he spent a few weeks in a friend's workshop, making me a custom steel frame bike. Apparently, finding a second-hand bike my size was too much of a hassle. Once the frame was done, I chose a nice deep blue color to paint it in, added a pair of basic wheels, found some flashy pink handlebar grips for style, and there you go, I owned a bike again. I took this bike out on a couple of night rides which were all about hanging out with friends from my partner's cycling team and not about working out or going on long rides. It never became a regular thing, but I did enjoy these moments, and these rides paved the way for my growing love of cycling.

Just a year ago, I lived in Marseille, France's second largest city and I had bought myself a cheap bike (a bike that wouldn't leave me heartbroken if it got stolen, unlike my custom one) as I had realized riding would be faster than taking the bus to go where I needed. I usually took my bike out once or twice a week, but that was only for a 7km round trip ride to meet a friend at the shopping center, or for a couple of minutes to get food downtown. However, I quickly realised that getting on my bike and starting to pedal (even if it was only for a 15min ride) gave me a sensation I had never felt before. As soon as my legs started to pedal and I could feel the wind of my face, my heart would be racing, and it felt absolutely thrilling. I was hooked on the feeling that being on my bike gave me. It made me feel free. I tried going on a few rides that were not a means to an end, but rather an end in themselves, but the city I lived in was definitely not bike-friendly, and riding in those conditions could get uncomfortable and even dangerous. Yet, I was not meant to be kept off my bike for long.

Last summer, I had obtained a job transfer and had to move back to the South West of France. When visiting apartments near my new workplace, I realised that I'd be in a quiet countryside area, with amazing sceneries to discover, beautiful long roads and little traffic to be bothered by. Looking out from the window of the place I would end up living in, I made up my mind: once settled there, I would start riding. Riding for real.

This moment was a game-changer for me. I had made up my mind and I was about to embark on a journey filled with amazing bike rides. During my short rides in the city, I thought I knew what it felt like to revel in cycling, but this was nothing compared to how much contentment my first 'real' rides brought me. The most rewarding part was my ability to ride longer and faster than I ever thought possible! This really opened up new horizons for me and I appreciated reaching some goals I set for myself. And yet, I felt like engaging in something bigger. I knew I could give my all for a demanding goal. I needed a real challenge.