Never too late to embrace fitness, finding that cycling bug

We caught up with newly-found fitness fanatic Madeline Cox, an information manager for Public Health England in Leeds. Not long ago she barely lasted on a treadmill, now she’s cycled 50 miles in under 5 hours. Here’s her fitness journey blog! Take it away Madeline…

I’m a 41 years young mum, of two very busy energetic young boys! They are 9 and 7 and their activities alone fill my week – never mind the day job and my hobbies! I’ve been married to Jon for 13 years. He enjoys triathlons in his spare time, having completed several ironman distance events.

Where it began!

My fitness journey started about 5 years ago. I was never into sport much at school – I moved around too much so never really got involved in team sports such as hockey and netball. Anyway I decided I would like to start running. I started with the NHS Couch to 5k running app. I’d previously dabbled in gym membership and could probably manage about 3 minutes of running on a treadmill – so the thought of being able to run 5k was alien to me. However, I put on my trainers and set off. And surprisingly I enjoyed it. My fears of fellow pedestrians falling about laughing were unfounded, as no one batted an eyelid. So I carried on with the programme, taking full advantage of the 30 minutes all to myself, without shouts of “mummy can you?” and “mummy where are you?”.


About 3 weeks in, I decided I needed something to aim towards, a goal to focus on and make my efforts mean something. My dad happened to mention that one of his colleagues was doing the 5k Race for life. Perfect. I’d just have time to complete the 9 weeks of the NHS programme before putting the training to the test. So I signed up. I went on to take part in several 5k events followed by a few 10k events. But then I started looking for something different as the sub hour for 10k was eluding me.

Due to my husband’s interest I’d always been aware of triathlon events, but I never believed I could do all three disciplines one after the other. But a local event I’d seen was made up of small distances and seemed the perfect introduction – 400m swim, 15k bike and 5k run. So I began my training – always a breaststroke swimmer, I started working on my front crawl, and borrowing my husband’s road bike, to gain experience cycling on the road. During the actual event, I really struggled with the transition from bike to run. My legs felt like lead and weren’t moving as they should.

Suddenly running was my least favourite of the three. So following the event, I turned to my bike and ditched the trainers. I love the distances you can cover on your bike in a short time compared to the running. Even the hills don’t bother me on the bike. So the love for two wheels continued and with six fellow ladies, I recently completed 174 miles cycling from coast to coast along the Way of the Roses route (Morecombe to Bridlington).


It was a fantastic experience. Some extremely steep hills to conquer, but the downhills made the uphills worthwhile. And there were plenty of tea and cake stops scheduled in to keep you going. As a group we loved the experience and there is talk of repeating the event next year using a different route with a few additional miles.

Finding the cycling bug

My husband got me into cycling and my experience of a triathlon. I find my time on my bike is my time. My mind can wander and I can think about things just for me with no interruption. It’s also quite a sociable sport. Even when cycling alone, other cyclist always say hello as they pass, or give you the nod from the opposite side of the road.

First cycling challenge?

Having planned to cycle Coast to Coast in June 2016, the cycling group decided we needed to test ourselves with a longer distance than the 20 or so miles we were doing for training. We entered the 50 miles Prince of Wales Cyclothon in Pontefract.


We completed that in about 5 hours. I also experienced my first tumble off the bike sliding across tarmac – OUCH. Never the less I got back on and completed the ride. I loved being on the bike and the distance I could go in a shorter time compared to running.

Madeline’s cycling tips:

  • Helping with long rides – Haribos or mini Soreens
  • What to wear – Padded shorts!
  • Best place to start – Cycle paths

The group of ladies I did Coast-to-coast with live locally to me, so we try and go out once a week – but we’re not all free every time, so its usually two or three of us at a time.


My friend from school is the founder and owner. So I thought I’d give her goodies a try. The fabric is the best I’ve felt – so soft and stretchy. She just needs to design some cycle jerseys and shorts now. Not forgetting to include plenty of padding and special Haribo pockets! What a bonus.

What’s next?

A long cycle in October is on the cards – 70 miles in a day and then hopefully a different route for coast-to-coast next year, perhaps with a few more miles added on. Exciting! what a challenge.

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