The benefits of cycling

‘I loved running, but all of a sudden everything hurt so much’ – Robin Williams

Never once have I, or would I claim to be a super fit fitty (like Dave is) I quite simply like wine and pizza far too much. I am however, rather partial to a bit of exercise now and again, for the state of my mental health more so than my body. Although a flat tummy is nice too.

If and when I take it upon myself to do the Great North Run, the training for that in itself keeps me in good shape. By the time race day comes around, it’s not unknown for me to vow never to put one foot in front of another and run another step as long as I live. That was certainly the case when I did the race in 2018. I was so over running that in 2019 I needed something to replace that running high, didn’t see me locked in the 200 degree sweat box that is my gym over the summer and get the heart rate over 60 bpm a couple of times a week. The answer, it turns out, was in my £40 mountain bike in the garage.

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About a trillion years ago Dave bought me a mountain bike for my birthday from Recyc ya Bike in Byker for £40 and it’s been a little bobby dazzler of a bike ever since, albeit not something that I use as often as I should. Over the summer last year I really got into cycling out and about with Dave, and believe me after all the running I did the previous year, going out on a bike felt like an absolute luxury. When I was out running, I would curse people on bikes, curse them all.

We got into the habit of having somewhere to aim for when we went out rather than just aimlessly riding around. A couple of adventures had us cycling from where we live in Kingston Park over to our favourite café in Heaton one bank holiday Sunday and down to the river in Newburn one day we had off. Getting back up hill on that particular journey wasn’t the most fun it has to be said. But I was starting to really enjoy getting out in the fresh air, covering lots of ground, and getting some exercise at the same time.

In fact, so taken with the whole two wheeled life, I managed to convince Dave that getting a tandem bike to pootle around Vancouver would be a good idea. How I quite convinced him that was good idea I’ll never know, but oh how we laughed as we were unable to stop and almost ploughed into the back of a family of five.

Of course, like everything it’s not all cycling through fields of wheat wearing cotton sundresses and baguettes in your basket, there are elements I’m not massively keen on. Hills, whether it be up or down. There was a rather large tantrum had when Dave took us through Westerhope Country Park. You know him, he will throw himself into or off of anything, and has the dis-inhibition of a serial killer. It was all really steep downhill with loads of twists and turns and one thing I do not like is feeling out of control or like I’m going to hurt myself. So I got off my bike and walked down the hill in an almighty huff.

Between our house and the countryside is a couple of kissing gates, which Dave, being the almighty fitness legend that he is, can manoeuvre through through seamlessly, whereas my centre of gravity is so poor that I lose control and wobble off. I think I’ve manged to get through one without taking my feet off the pedals a total of once.

I’m also not massively keen on other people, and I know that sounds really arsey but the more people around, the more likely you are to encounter a knob. When cycling on the road, not every car seems all that keen on giving you enough space, and when on country paths or tracks the amount of people with their wayward dogs or kids running around skittishly means more obstacles to potentially crash into or have to swerve to avoid and hurt yourself.

We also incorporated cycling into our winter sun trip to Spain and hired bikes to ride from Marbella to Puerto Banus, which was possibly one of my favourite days of the whole trip. And of course with COVID19 and the government imposed restrictions on daily exercise for a good couple of months has meant we’ve gotten out of the bikes a lot more than we would have normally at this time of year. It’s something we can do together and since gyms are still shut, it makes a welcome break from all the running.

I mean, i’ll be honest, I only really started writing this post so I could use the phrase ‘undercarriage’ in an instagram picture, but you know what’s the most bonkers thing to come out of this new found love for my bike? We’re actually considering a cycling holiday in France or Holland next year, if we’re allowed to travel again of course. Will definitely need some of those padded shorts for that I reckon #undercarriage.

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