They say 'it's all about the cycle' but triathlon cycling (in my experience) is something quite different to 'cycling'. I've always cycled. Normal cycling. Maybe a clip to keep the chain from chewing my trousers and a helmet, but just normal clothes going from A to B. I'd never considered myself to be particularly sporty but even when overweight I've always had a bike and often cycled a short commute. I've always had baby seats for the children and never thought twice (unless it was raining) and never doubted that my general road confidence and cycling skills were good. In my 20s I even remember, voluntarily, I should add, going on a cycling holiday across Somerset and France. Admittedly I pushed my bike up several hills but don't remember ever being 'terrified', 'frozen' or 'traumatised', adjectives that spring to mind now when I'm trying to pluck up the courage to go out on my tri bike. Up to this point I've cheated quite a bit on my cycling. Technically I've covered 20k a week but it's either been part of my commute on my nice safe hybrid stopping every few hundred metres at the lights in London or on a spin bike in a safe warm studio. But this weekend I wanted to do a proper sprint tri practice so Matthew suggested a 20k gentle cycle that he uses in his training. Beautiful countryside.. he said! Only a couple of small hills.. he said! 40 minutes.. he said! My bike has been set up properly (I then moved the seat down a couple of inches so I could actually get on and off of it which I thought would be a helpful start). But as soon as I'm on it and clipped in I'm terrified. If I need to stop I find it so confusing to remember everything. Unclip ( I have to do both sides, as once I unclipped one side once and then tried to put the other leg down) witnessed by several amused car drivers. I then have to stand on the pedals, to get off the seat, before I can put my feet on the floor. None of this is quick and so unless I'm thinking about it well I advance it can all go horribly wrong. And then there are the hills. So, if I'm clipped in and going up a hill I pretty quickly run out of gears. I've got plenty of gears on my bike (not sure how many exactly but I must have as many as most people, but I only use about the 3 of the easiest ones. However, once I start going up the hill quickly run out of easy gears and then can't keep going. So I want to stop and get off and push, but I can't because I'm clipped in and going uphill so my weight is towards the back of the bike. This makes it seemingly impossible to stop pedalling to unclip, because if I did that I would start rolling backwards, clipped in! Going backwards down a hill attached to a speeding bike isn't my idea of fun. I certainly can't seem to get to a point where I can unclip and then push off onto the pedals so that I can step down. So unless I'm actually cycling along a smooth, long, endless strip of fresh tarmac with several miles of visibility, I spend the entire ride terrified and panicked in a constant state of anticipation. Anyway, we did the ride (in twice the anticipated time) and I realised how far I have got to go to get ready for the longer distances. Oh well I thought at least Zell am See has got quite a nice bike course. Nothing too horrible, I've managed it once so should be able to do it again with a bit of training. And then Kate springs the news on me that the course now has a 7 mile climb through 2000m. #%^*+!?$€ Help !!