For once, I’m not referring to my Mini.
Once upon a time I cycled everywhere. I cycled to school, I cycled home from school, I cycled to see people, I cycled to church on occasion, I cycled to Brixham for a day out, I cycled to Exmouth (via the Starcross ferry) for a weekend, I cycled to university, I cycled to town, I cycled to Tesco. It was my primary form of transport, it took me everywhere, and was very reliable. Then I got a car. At much the same time I left university and started working from home. That meant that not only did I not have to go out as much, but when I did I had the luxury of a car to take me there. There were several results to this: I travelled further more frequently, I joined the local Mini club, I spent lots of money on accessories and maintenance, and I got terribly unfit.
The last of those results is the one I’ve been most concerned about. The lack of exercise, combined with the joys of married life, has left me with a slowly-increasing fat reserve, something my body simply isn’t built for. I have always been slim, always been light on my feet, always been fairly fit. But now I have a bulging stomach, my leg muscles have turned to jelly, and I feel lethargic most of the time. It’s not that I need to go on a diet, I just need to start using some of the energy I’m taking in! So, to combat the problem, I’m going to start cycling again.
Here we run into a slight problem, in that my bike is dead. It’s been dead for some time now, I’ve just not had the heart to admit it. It’s been a good bike, faithful and reliable, and has had a good long life. It was new when I started at secondary school, which would have been about 14 years ago. Since then it’s travelled several thousand miles, had various modifications and several bits replaced. It’s been ridden in glorious sunshine, torrential rain, snow and ice, gale-force biting winds, on- and off-road, up hills, across beaches, through floods… pretty much anything you can imagine, that bike has been through it. And now, at long last, it’s time for it to retire.
I’ve weighed it all up, and I reckon it’s actually going to be better for me to buy a new bike than to try to get my old one back on the road. It needs a new rear wheel, including all the gears, new chain, new brake blocks, new brake cables, new gear change cables, new tyres front and back, new saddle, new brake levers, and it could do with a reflector on the back somewhere too. And even if I did get all that sorted, it’s developing some rusty patches here and there too. So, this weekend I shall be buying myself a new bicycle, and will probably donate the old bike to Re~Cycle (which I discovered today and looks like a fantastic idea).
Then it’s just a matter of building up the muscles again and getting rid of my excess fat. At the moment I reckon it’s going to be effort enough to cycle from one end of Wivenhoe to the other, but I’m planning on getting myself into a routine and building up to longer journeys. I’ve already been looking at some maps, and although there aren’t any good cycleways around here, there are some nice country roads I can explore. I’ll work my way up to it, but a round trip to Alresford and back is 6 miles, Brightlingsea is 15 miles, Clacton is 24 miles, Frinton is 31 miles. All of those should be possible in a day, eventually. I’ll no doubt post here in due course once I’ve got the new bike, and will keep you all up to date with all my bike rides, once they start getting interesting! For the moment it’ll be a case of building up my stamina, cycling round the block a few times…