I’ve recently taken up cycling. Nothing serious, just as a way of getting a bit of exercise in an enjoyable way. As Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council have developed the Guild Wheel, this has given me a lovely, picturesque route into work, without having to worry about crazy drivers, having been stuck in a traffic jam for the past 30 minutes, needlessly cutting me up!
Anyway, as I live some 15 miles away from work, I decided to pace myself by starting off driving part way, parking up and cycling in from there. I’ve built up the distance and finally, last week, I braved the full journey in! I over-ran my target time by a grand total of 7 minutes (1 hr 37 min I didn’t feel was too bad a post to stick in the ground, and I can only improve from there), but I blame this on being careful on the wet, muddy conditions – especially on some of the steep slopes I have to negotiate.
To celebrate this achievement, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt getting to this point:
- Cycling any distance is an equal split of a well maintained bike, fitness, state of mind and good gear management. You need all four!
- If you’re out for more than 30 minutes, put sun block on!
- Don’t go around with your mouth open – flies taste funny!
- State of mind (again!) I’ve really realised how much this matters when you think you are starting to flag! You might feel like you have no more energy left, but by talking yourself up (yes, I do cycle round talking to myself at times!) then you often manage to find that extra burst of energy!
- One of my colleagues at work warned me that by taking up cycling, you are taking on 2 hobbies: cycling and bike maintenance! Unless you want to spend loads of money in the bike store, you need to learn how to maintain your bike properly yourself!
- When cycling any distance, build up your stamina first and then focus on improving your time.
For a good guide to a lot of topics on cycling, including maintenance and cycling techniques, check out Bike Radar. I also highly reccomend Cyclecraft: the complete guide to safe and enjoyable cycling for adults and children, for learning to ride safely in plenty of different situations.
My next goal is to cycle more miles per week as well as improve my speed over the 15 mile journey. I’ve recorded my journeys, along with performance stats and at some point in the future I intend to share my performance stats to show how I have (hopefully!) improved.