Archive for April, 2010

New wheels, new lease of life

by on Apr.09, 2010, under Cycling, Life

I’ve been feeling unfit and unwell for ages – pains in places you don’t want pains, feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired and basically and knowing that at 41 years old, I can’t go on living the way I do. The changes are the obvious – knock the fags on the head, cut down the boozing, start eating better and get fit. All sounds like a nightmare’s nightmare.

Fags I can do well without – I don’t enjoy smoking and often feel unwell after smoking one, plus lately I have been smoking too much – fag first thing in the morning, fag between buses when going or returning from work (three buses each way) – just not good at all. Booze, well I have already cut down the going out simply to save money what with all the debts from last year. Eating better is kind of a fad thing with me, mainly due to appetite (mainly due to the smoking) but the getting fit is the one that fills me with dread, and I will tell you why.

I despise gymnasiums seeing them no more as torture chambers – sure the idea of eyeing up lots of very firm and fit young ladies in leotards sounds wonderful, but going in as a slightly overweight, horrendously unfit and with the sporting ability of your average garden shed is hardly likely to win favour with the fairer sex. Plus with all the male contenders it will just be like being back at school again and I imagine like those perennial cartoons of the wimp having sand kicked in his face on the beach. No. Thank. You.

So I could go out and jog, but again that’s something of a chore and after a day at work the last thing I want to do is go running – trouble is after a few clicks if you get bored, you are stuffed and still have to run home. Again, apathy rules this one out, and taking up some competitive active sport again thanks to the shed syndrome fills me with dread. But there is a perfectly good answer, one I did before and one that not only ticks all the boxes but is the perfect solution to the problem – Cycling

You see the thing is here in Holland you could not want a better place to ride – not only is there a fantastic infrastructure of cycling paths but the government even have schemes to get you a new bike for next to nothing, so through this very scheme last week I picked up my €700 27 speed cross bike. I had ordered it the week before with paperwork handled by my employer, and a couple of days earlier in preparation used the night shift to read the Allen Carr easyway method of stopping smoking, which I promptly did on Tuesday of last week (if you have not used this book I could not recommend it high enough) and have to date not wanted a smoke nor indeed indulged even when surrounded by smokers. Then Thursday I get the message the bike is ready and Thursday night rode it for the first time to work, somewhat full of trepidation having not ridden a bicycle for a couple of years and especially not of any distance. The program had started.

It’s now just over a week later and I have cycled to and from work for every shift and have cycled approximately 200 kilometres in that time (the odometer reads a bit less but I have forgotten to switch the thing on every now and again). I have forgotten how much I truly enjoy riding a bike and it cuts out so much boredom – no waiting around for public transport, I can lie in a bit longer of a morning and get to work invigorated. My general mental health has much improved and even with current problems at home I have been feeling generally much happier – the combination with giving up the smokes and the improved feeling of fitness (although still early days) really has made a huge difference. Sleeping is still a bit hit and miss – some days I can sleep for hours, others its a bit intermittent but that will pass (I put that down to the nicotine withdrawal although I have no real feelings of this any more whilst awake)

But one of the nicest things? Finishing a night shift like this morning, discovering a lovely route home on a glorious spring morning and getting home in around 40 minutes feeling truly alive, chuffed at having another proper workout and knowing that there will be lots more days like this for cycling and having all this fun is actually good for me. The cheeky 9am beer before bed is just the icing on a perfect end to the start of everyone else’s day.

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