On Valentine’s Day: The cycle of love
For my latest Sunday Mail outdoors column I featured three happy couples who have cycling at the heart of their romance. Read the pdf or see the article below.
The true cycle of love
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I spoke to three couples from Scotland who reveal a passion for cycling at the heart of their relationships.
Tinder to marriage
A dating app broughy Naomi Freireich, 43, and Charlie Lees, 42, of Edinburgh, together. A shared love of cycling saw them fall in love. They share four children from precious marriages.
When Naomi spotted Charlie on the dating app Tinder she was drawn to his active lifestyle.
Charlie is a keen ultra runner and Naomi reckoned she could encourage him to do more cycling, the sport she most likes.
The first date was a traditional dinner date but within two months, Charlie found himself supporting Naomi at one of the world’s toughest endurance events, the 24-hour Strathpuffer mountain biking race in the Highlands.
Naomi said: “I was racing solo and that meant I had to keep doing laps of a tough course for 24 hours.
“It takes place in January so there is all the cold, mud and wet to deal with. It was very hard and I did eventually win but it was thanks to Charlie.
“He was amazing. He was patient, completely on top of my nutrition and timings and stayed awake all night.
“I knew then that he was pretty damn special.”
Charlie has since supported Naomi in other races, including the World 24-hour Championships in Italy and the UK 24-hour Champs, which Naomi won, and they have enjoyed many biking adventures together.
Naomi said: “I was right from the start and as his running has dropped off a bit he has realised he loves cycling. He’s even doing his first biking event in April.”
The couple even enjoyed a mountain bike ride on the morning of their wedding in Argyll last year.
Naomi said: “Cycling is a big part of our lives together now and so it seemed perfectly natural to head out on our wedding day.
“It was a great start to a perfect day.”
Hilltop wedding (with our bikes)
Julie Taylor-Flood, 34, and Bosco Flood, 35, of Blanefield, Stirlingshire, married in secret on top of a Scottish hill after cycling to the summit.
Julie was living in Dublin 2007 when she met Bosco, who was a friend of a friend.
She had just started training for a London to Paris charity cycling event.
Julie said: “When we first became friends I mentioned the sportive and Bosco said he would happily go for a bike ride with me.
“That first time he took me on a 50-mile ride and I was on a cheap, old bike. It almost killed me.”
Friendship quickly turned to romance and they enjoyed many cycling adventures together.
After moving to Scotland in 2008, the couple continued to cycle together, especially off-road trails near their Stirlingshire home.
When Bosco proposed it felt very natural to include cycling as part of the wedding ceremony.
Julie said: “I didn’t want a normal wedding and I was most certainly not wearing a wedding dress.
“We didn’t even tell anyone we were getting married and simply headed up Conic Hill with our bikes and got married.
“We both had wedding themed cycling jerseys that looked like a tux.
“After the ceremony, we cycled off Conic Hill together with our witnesses. It was wet and we ended up covered in sheep poo but we didn’t care.
“We were happy to have got married and to be doing something we loved together.”
Bikes, love and our wedding
Carrie, 32, and 36-year-old Ross Finn, of Helensburgh, Argyll & Bute, enjoyed a bicycle-themed wedding.
Although Carrie and Ross did not meet though cycling, they got into the sport together six years ago.
Carrie said: “We now enjoy all kinds of cycling, including mountain biking, road cycling and cyclocross.
“We have also cycled a lot in Scotland and cycling together has brought us closer because we motivate each other.”
When they were planning their wedding in 2016, the couple decided that cycling would be at the heart.
They bought a tandem and sprayed it cream and then arranged handpicked flowers in a handlebar mounted basket.
Ross made t-shirt shaped stands from bike chains that identified what tables the guests were at, with a yellow jersey table for the top table and a polka dot jersey table, etc.
Carrie made button and brooch bouquets that were bound together with handlebar tape, while Ross created a Mr and Mrs centrepiece from more bike chain.
Carrie said: “We loved our cycling themed wedding. We even went on a bike ride to the highest town in Spain, Villaflor, during our Honeymoon in Tenerife.”
Now the couple have a young daughter and they are hoping she will be as keen on cycling as they are.
Carrie said: “We have a bike ornament mounted above her changing table so she can see it as we change her. Perhaps we are a bit bike obsessed!”