Back on the bike

Recently I have begun cycling again. In my early-to-mid 20’s I was an avid and passionate mountain biker. I rode most evenings, and I would be out on the trails almost all of the weekend. I stopped cycling when working shifts and having kids meant time had become a premium commodity.

When I was about 24 I was fit — I mean really fit. I regularly went away to the Lake District for a long-weekend and rode up and down hills for 8-10 hours a day. I loved it. But then I stopped. I stopped and I got fat. I even gave up football.

I am now several stones over my ideal weight (if several can be stretched to about 5?). I’m unfit and I drink too much. My weight has meant that I have a bad back and I get out of breath if I try moderate exercise.

I started cycling again before Christmas. I took on a local trail that before would have been a quick week-night blast in my heyday. I was fucked. I could barely do it. If it hadn’t have been for a puncture half-way around, I think my riding buddies would have just shot me.

Obviously, with long winter nights and working through the day, riding opportunities are rare. But I have made sure I get in at least one ride each weekend — even when the ground is covered in snow and ice. And yes, I’ve started to build up my stamina and general fitness. The impressive leg muscles I used to display have woken from their decade long slumber, and while still yawning and getting used to the bright light of routine exercise, awake they certainly are.

Cycling isn’t cheap. Well it could be if I wasn’t such an insufferable geek. Anyway, since December I have bought a £1,000 slick-tyre hybrid, and my beloved Orange mountain bike has been booked in for a serious overhaul (well-worn late 90’s kit is no good on the fashionable trails). A full new 2012 Deore XT transmission, Race Face finishing kit and set of fancy new Rock Shox forks are sitting in a Merlin Cycles checkout basket, waiting for me to find the funds to pay for them.

To finance my rekindled interest in cycling I have started selling my hi-fi and other gear on eBay. I have never sold anything on eBay before so it’s a new experience for me, and I have to say it, I’ve been bitten by the eBay bug… C’mon everybody, let’s party like it’s 1997!!

Every ping of my phone gives me the shivers. Is it a bid on my loudspeakers or my CD player? Or maybe it’s another 50p placed on the XBOX X-Factor game the kids never even opened? Anyway it’s all coming along beautifully, and my Paypal account is beginning to swell, ready for the day when I click buy on that bumper Merlin shopping cart.

To make the most of this cycle-based spending, I need to continue to work hard on my fitness, and that includes making time in the evening to do some exercise every day — either on my hybrid, my fixed bike, or getting out for those runs I’ve been threatening for weeks. So that’s why I have written this post. I want to document (and shame myself into) getting down to the twelve-and-a-half stone target I have set myself. I have 18-months from today. You with me? Great.

UPDATE: While I’ve just posted this, I actually wrote this on Tuesday. Since then I have got two of those runs in and a decent bike ride today.