Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cycling

A few years ago I started running as a way of getting fitter. I really got into it and was enjoying it when I suddenly started getting blurred vision and crippling headaches after a run. As my regular reader will remember, I went to the doctor who then referred me to the hospital which turned out to me the scariest day of my life!

Anyway, after discovering that I had a tendency for exercise induced migraines I decided that a new sport was required. One that did not trigger my new found disability.

Last April the company I work for launched a Cycle 2 Work scheme and I decided to give it a try. I would get a bike and cycle to work each day.

I signed up and discovered that I had to get a bike from Halfords which didn't please me initially. I saw Halfords as the PC world of cycling. Over priced crap sold my idiots with no product knowledge. I have to say however that I was completely wrong, and although I think their branches vary in staff quality, the Queens Road branch in Sheffield has been utterly brilliant.

So, after speaking to the nice folks in Halfords I decide on a Boardman Hybrid Comp. It looked cool and was (apparently) exactly what I needed. I also got kitted out with a helmet, jacket, lights etc.

I collected the bike a few days later and was very excited. However, I had not ridden a bike since, er, I can't actually remember. I must have been about 15 or something. When I first went for a little ride I discovered that it was true that you never forget how to ride a bike once you learn but it is also something that is not as easy as it used to be when you were a kid. I was feeling more than a little wobbly and at first I was having difficulties telling my brain to turn the handlebars to go round a corner when I was doing anything more than 10mph!

The other thing was quite how difficult it is when you start. I thought that as I have been running and my legs are strong I'd be fine but I was wrong. How did I know there was another set of muscles in your legs that are used when riding a bike that had hitherto been left dormant!

Still, with a little practice the wobbles vanished and my legs got stronger. Riding in heavy traffic was not as scary as I thought it would be either. You just have to be constantly alert, and I have been riding to work since last April.

So its been just over a year since I started cycling. Am I enjoying it? Do I get the headaches?

Well the headaches have mostly gone. I still get the odd one and a bit of blurred vision but they are so few and far between that it's not an issue, and I've  mostly learned to spot when one is about to occur and to slow right down.

Apart from that my cycling has gone from strength to strength. I ride to work in all weathers apart when there is ice about due to me falling off last December on black ice which REALLY hurt! I also go out at weekends and do 30 or 40 miles around Derbyshire and I have even started following all forms of cycling on the TV so I have discovered a fantastic new sport to watch too which is great!

In short I am totally hooked! I love it!

A couple of weeks ago I received this years Cycle 2 Work scheme email from work and decided that a road bike was in order. My hybrid is brilliant for getting to work and back but I wanted something a bit more sporty for the weekends. Luckily the Cycle 2 Work scheme put an upper price limit of £1000 on what you can buy or I would probably be riding something similar to Mark Cavendish knowing myself as I do. This allowed me to buy this bad boy! I shopped around and decided to go for another Boardman. The spec was excellent for the price and as I said earlier, Halfords on Queens Road Sheffield were brilliant at fixing any issues I've had for 12 months so I was happy to buy from them again.

When I collected my new bike it was unfortunately snowing (in April!) so I couldn't ride it for a few days. When I did manage to take it for a spin round the block it brought back memories of a year ago. The riding position and the dimensions of the bike are so different to my hybrid that I felt wobbly and weak again! It didn't take long to get used to the new bike though and I am so pleased with it. It's so much lighter, stiffer and faster than the hybrid. Amazing!!!

So that's how I got into cycling. I have a 45 mile charity ride coming up in May which will be fun. Feel free to sponsor me here. I'll be the one beating the riders from our Maidenhead office. :-)

Also, being a geek, there had to be some sort if IT angle. I've tracked all my riding with an app on my phone called Runkeeper. You can see the results here. I'm swapping over to using Garmin Connect though so Runkeeper won't be updated for much longer.

You can also see some lovely photos of my new bike here. Isn't it nice. :-)

Finally, I can't recommend you give cycling a go highly enough. It's great whether you go once a week for a gentle ride in the park or every day to commute. It's great fun and great exercise.

1 comments:

Charlie came said...

pleased you are getting on with it :) It's on my list to do this weekend too.

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