Looks like we made it

me, cycling

My first bike ride in 15+ years. Seems a lot longer than a month ago!

Regular readers (and I believe there are some these days!) might remember something I wrote a while back, about potentially ditching the car and cycling to work. I’m very pleased to announce that just shy of two months later I’ve turned that idea into reality, having this morning covered the 15.5 miles to work using nothing more than pedal power.

And it feels fantastic!

Obviously there’s been a lot of planning and work to get to this point, but not as much as I’d anticipated, which has surprised me a lot to be honest.

Buying a bike was the first step. Having not even ridden a bike for at least 15 years, and never having bought one myself, it was a pretty steep learning curve deciding what I wanted and trying to find it within the budget I’d set myself. A budget which, it should be pointed out, grew several times as I learned more. I decided to go for a hybrid bike (a cross between a road and mountain bike) because I wasn’t sure I was ready for a pure road bike, but knew I didn’t need the strength (and added weight!) of a mountain bike. After poring over specs, weighing up various pros and cons, I plumped for a Trek 7.2 FX, financed by selling our about-to-be-surplus-to-requirement second car.

Trek 7.2 FX Disc

My new wheels. Just ignore the weeds…

After that, it was a simple case of building up to being able to cover the 31 mile round trip. My original plan was to build up gradually, parking at railway stations and advancing a station every few days. However, once I started riding I realised that with a few practice rides I should be able to jump in with both feet and cover the full distance.

And that’s what I’ve done. Today’s morning commute tipped me over 100 total miles in the month since I got my bike, with my longest ride being Saturday’s 25.6 mile ride, scouting most of the route to/from work in a single journey. Managing that in one go was a real boost, and made me sure that I’d manage both legs today without any problems.

There’s been a lot of effort off the bike too, planning a route that was safe – keeping me away from the busiest traffic – without becoming a long, meandering loop that added time and miles. The route I’ve settled on goes through three parks and follows the courses of the Rivers Clyde and Kelvin. And the bits where I’m on the roads almost entirely involve cycle lanes, which is ideal.

Next achievement is cycling both ways, five days a week. I’m not expecting that to be this week, and possibly not even next. But it won’t be long. And then? Who knows. A year ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d have bought a bike, let alone planning to ride 150 miles on it every week, so I’m not going to make any bold predictions, and I’m certainly not taking on any crazy challenges quite yet.

Actually, thinking about it, my next challenge is the 15.5 miles back home. With the added incentive of an amazing welcoming committee when I get home. Better than I arrived to here this morning, that’s for sure!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I’m a road runner baby

Road Runner - meep meep!This year has been all about the health and the fitness in our household, appropriate in an Olympic year, non? I’ve written before about The Diet, and I’m pleased to say that my journey there is almost complete – just a couple of pounds to go and I’ll be a happy man. (Note: I could maybe be tempted to go further, but people are starting to tell me I’m looking a bit thin, so I’m going to draw a line. For now, at least…)

As well as being more careful about what we eat, both me and Gem have got off the couch and started exercising on a regular basis, something neither of us have done for aaaaaages.

Back in January, we started out on Wii Fit, which was a fantastic starting point – nice, easy, gentle exercise to start using muscles that haven’t been used in a very long time. Focusing on the aerobic exercises, it wasn’t long before we could see a difference, on the scales, on the measuring tape, and, perhaps more importantly, in how out of breath and sweaty we were at the end of a workout.

One of the great things about Wii Fit is that the more you use it the more exercises and levels you unlock – something that keeps you coming back for more. To an extent, it also stops you trying to do too much too soon, something that’s liable to result in an injury and put you off entirely.

We both knew, though, that Wii Fit wasn’t going to be the be all and end all of our new lifestyle, and that sooner or later we’d more on to other things. We’ve now replaced Wii Fit with Zumba Fitness 2 two times a week, and are working our way through the various levels that offers. Again, it’s a really nice feeling when you start to find the routines less taxing than when you started, and can start to add in more challenging ones. Still plenty of mileage left there.

I’ve also started running, and am pleased to say that I’ve just signed up for my first ever 10k race, at this year’s Great Scottish Run. Half a lifetime ago, when I was young and took my fitness for granted, I ran the GSR half marathon, and maybe one day I’ll manage that again, but one step at a time, right? Let’s see how I get on with the 10k first.

Currently I’m running two or three times a week, and trying to add distance each week. At the moment, the furthest I’ve run is 6.4km, which is almost two thirds of the distance I’m aiming to cover in 4 weeks time. I’m slightly ahead of the training schedule I devised for myself though, so I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the race and get my first (well second, if you count the one from 18 years ago) medal.

After that, who knows? I’m getting a real buzz out of running at the moment, and I hope that doesn’t disappear once the challenge of completing the race has gone and I’ve got nothing to aim for. I don’t think it will, but if it does, there are plenty of other races out there to be entered, right?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!