Since my husband completed his 100 mile charity bike ride and signed me up for next year I have been going out cycling three times a week. I’ve always liked cycling since I was a child. I have fond memories of long cycle rides and as I grew up cycling remained important to me, I used it as my basis for getting fit for joining the police. But it was joining the police that put an end to it. Very quickly shift work just took its toll on me but also getting into any sort of routine was impossible, and I’m a routine kind of girl. Also a confidence one. And so over the last few years as my husband has increased his cycling miles I have watched him pedal off over the horizon. Despite my lifelong love of cycling. He’s bought me two bikes over the years that have sat gathering dust. At times I would pick them up but never to the extent that I would like. There was no reason to. But now I have a reason. And cycling is again becoming very important to me.
I have an amazing cousin who lives in America who runs like Forrest Gump. She is completely addicted to all the good that running brings to her life and her Facebook posts are so inspirational that this time last year I got myself up to being able to run 5k. But I hated every second of it. I hate running with a passion! The only good bit of it is when it’s over. Then it’s amazing. You feel really chuffed that you did it. Before and during I hate every step. It’s a constant argument between the bit of me that wants to go home and the bit of me that is convincing that bit that I can do this and shouldn’t give in. I am really pleased that I managed 5k a few times but, genuinely, I have no love of it.
But here I am happily increasing my cycling miles. Happily climbing those hills. Ok not really happily but I don’t avoid them. I can feel I am improving and I am enjoying the countryside and the wind in my hair. I’ve seen parts of the countryside in the last few weeks that I didn’t know were there. I’ve seen the pumpkin crop is coming along nicely ready for pumpkin picking. I’ve watched the combine harvesters going round the fields and seen the birds swoop in afterwards. I’ve seen the cows and sheep sitting in the fields in such a way that I know it is going to rain. I’ve had some slices of cake on coffee stops. Apparently it’s ok if you are exercising.
I try to keep off the main roads as much as possible and am really fortunate to live on a housing estate that has a foot bridge over to the countryside. Literally. I cycle on the road and try to plan my routes to avoid A roads completely but also the busier local roads, if possible. I seldom see cars and when I do the drivers are usually very courteous and give me plenty of room or time. Sometimes of course I have to deal with idiots. It’s a shame when we can’t all share the road but those hordes of cycling men on a Sunday that ignorantly think they too own the road give all of us humble cyclists a bad name. So I definitely wear a helmet, just in case. But you get used to it I guess. I take roads out of my route if they prove too stressful and just stick to the peaceful countryside.
My plan at the moment is to prepare myself for next years 100 miles Ride London event. I have entered the ballot and hope to be successful. If I’m not successful at least it got me back on my bike. I think cycling has helped me in the last few weeks to feel calmer. It has given me the time, time to myself, to just think with no distractions. I know it is important to keep active but I struggle to fit it in unless it is a routine. I’ve always got an email I could be answering or a piece of Pyrex I could be listing. You know the feeling. But I’ve pencilled in rides on a Tuesday and Thursday . And on a Sunday morning hubby and I go out together for that cake stop ride. There is nothing like a piece of cake and a pot of tea to get you out of the door!
So what is the exercise that you enjoy most? And if you are struggling to get back in the saddle, so to speak, what do you think would inspire you? I’ve seen recently that the National Lottery is investing in Women Cycle Groups to encourage fitness but also to get women out there, women who might lack confidence on a bike and on the road. Let me know if you have any questions about cycling or any ideas about how to inspire people to cycle.
Have a peaceful and relaxed Wednesday xx