Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

elsa
Elsa – my trusty road bike

 

BMX!

IMG_0019I blummin love BMX. Riding, bikes, culture, style, the whole shebang… I’ve been riding BMX on and off since I was 12 (There is that age again…), and cannot imagine not riding it in some form until I drop!

I started riding Flatland BMX (standing on your bike spinning around in circles and not falling off…) back in 2008, and you think I would be good at it by now, but the fun of mucking around on little bikes rather than worrying about new tricks and fads makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

I had an ace time riding with my eldest grandson (he is a natural!) at the weekend, and getting a new sprocket (I snapped my old one in competition) for Christmas means I will back out there before you know it…

Grow old gracefully? On your bike! (Ha!)

Into the trees…

RollingI’ve been trying to cycle more over the last few months, partly to get fitter, but mostly because I love bikes and cycling of all forms. It’s also a great way to explore…

I have a regular route to a local town that I use for meetings which takes in country lanes with spectacular views of beautiful English countryside. One side of the road, rolling hills and fields, the other woodland. I love woodland, its my happy place, where I can escape from everything for a while and regroup.

BicycleThere’s one stretch of road I’ve been on lately, which has woodland stretching down a hillside that I’ve wanted to explore. So I stopped, turned my bike round, broke through the hedgerow and stepped into another world.

I put my bike down and looked around me. There were trees all around me, with the hillside rolling down from me, covered in a blanket of leaves, broken with clumps of bracken and brambles. My first thought was “Woah. It would be cool to ride down that…”, as there was a clear(ish) trail weaving down the hill. Another time, definitely…

EntranceThe hill is quite steep, so I stepped carefully, stopping to photograph the ancient trees as I descended. I also stopped to look back up the incline, admiring the view of the midwinter sun pouring back through the trees. At the base of the hill, there is a gate leading into farmers fields, so I can only assume that the woodland belongs to them…

UphillI wove my way back up the hill, aware of the time again, knowing I had an appointment to keep. But for a short while, I knew my mind had escaped the stresses and strains of everyday life. Picking my bike up at the summit, I knew I would return, hopefully to go blasting down a clearer hillside on my trusty steed.
Slope

 

My plan kind of worked…

I had a really good idea last night, after deciding to ride to my business networking breakfast 10 miles away. I planned to ride back from networking via the back roads, surrounded by lovely countryside, stop and take photos when I saw something cool and enjoy the ride…

All was well, until I got two miles towards home when my back tyre went completely flat and I had to stop to fix it. No problem I thought, I’ve got all the kit with me, it should only take a minute or two… I found the puncture easily, pumped it up to check were the air was coming out, and whacked a Flypaper patch over it, waited a minute and pumped it up again… You know that moment when you realise you should have marked where the puncture was? Yup, I had stuck the patch in the wrong place, and it was my last one. Oh, and the battery on my phone went “BYE SUCKER!”

So did I walk the 8 miles home or the 2 miles back to Market Harborough where I could get my tyre fixed? I put the back wheel back on my bike and started walking…

Man, that was a LONG two miles. My feet still really hurt now, right in the heels? That is weird…

The folks in the bike shop, George Halls were so cool and really helpful. Not only did they replace the inner tube and check everything was okay, but they let me use their PC so I could email my wife (no phone, remember?) and let her know what had happened and that I was okay. (She does want to keep me safe…) Now that’s customer service.  It was also cool as both of the lads working in the shop are BMXers, so we chatted about bikes and riding whilst my bike was sorted.

I stopped off for a coffee and a muffin before riding home, really enjoying the ride and being back on bike after far too long. It was also great fun skipping back through some muddy fields close to home too… getting my cyclocross vibes in!

The day was still about exploring (physically and mentally), as the riding was great fun, and I made an extra special effort to be nice to folks, paying attention to kindness and consideration shown by others. Its not hard, and making others happy makes you feel happy too. Try it, its a lovely feeling.

Oh, and I made sure I bought 2 lots of Flypaper patches…

Back to home Back to Lubenham

Go for the burn!

Last week I went to the gym. Twice. It’s something I wasn’t sure about, due to the old image of jocks trying to outdo each other, and testosterone flying around…

How wrong was I? I had a two-part assessment, to see where my fitness level is, and what exercise suits me. The first part was on running, stepping and cycling machines, the second on weight/resistance machines. I really enjoyed both sessions, but the resistance training was superb.

My fitness isn’t too bad, with cycling when I can, football with my grandson (usually an hour of ‘training’ as he calls it…), walking our dog, and trying to be active when possible. I like being outdoors and walking, so it comes fairly easily. I would like a little more definition in my stomach area, as my slighter build shows off my little tummy a bit too well for my liking… The resistance machines are great for this, and I will be having another assessment, which will help set up a programme of exercise for me. I need a plan in these areas, as guidance really helps me on this kind of exercise.

Cycling will be going up a notch too. After much deliberation, running is out, and cycling is in. Cycling is much kinder to my poor old knees, and easier for me to build up distances, as I have a decent base from many years of BMX and MTB riding. I’ve planned out three rides a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a big hill in it that I am determined to conquer. Cycling will form the foundation of my fitness, with gym work balancing out the body.

I’m really looking forwards to this!

Elsa - my trusty road bike
Elsa – my trusty road bike