Wednesday, 1 June 2011

So, cycling....

Last week, one of the dads at school kindly offered to lend me his wife's mountain bike. They both adore cycling, taking part in mad events like the 'Coast to Coast Challenge,' and both have road bikes as well as mountain bikes.

The bike that arrived in my hallway a couple of days later looked HUGE! I didn't worry too much as I had no intention of riding it until after Monday's race. I procrastinated yesterday and went for a run instead of tackling the beast (that currently lurks in my shed). Today I could delay no longer. I knew that I shouldn't really run again, the old knees need a rest now and then. So I lowered the seat as far as it would go, my friend is not only generous and gorgeous - she is also taller than me - most people are, but she is much taller than I am! I grabbed a water bottle and a gel seat (from spinning classes at the gym) and set off on a bike for the first time in 22 years.

It seems that riding a bike is almost but not entirely like riding a bike! You don't forget the basics. That is, you can pedal and balance well enough. Gears have changed a lot though, no need to pedal backwards as you change gear any more, and I feel my mortality a lot more than I did as a 19 year old, cycling in the Canadian Rockies with C Battery RHA! There was no way I felt confident enough to remove my hands from the handlebars to signal, or push my sunglasses up my nose! No worries, I was going on a route that wouldn't have a huge amount of traffic, and where most of my turns would be left not right!

I cycled to 'loopy bit' of the Alton 10mile route. That gave me a ride of nearly 8.5 miles - which took me 44 minutes. I have no idea if that is good or bad. It didn't feel like hard work, but I felt I was going as fast as I felt happy with. The hills weren't too bad on the way up, but they were terrifying on the way down! I spent most of the
down hill sections with the my hand on the brake - this was not the joyous free wheeling that I see cyclists enjoying while I am slogging up the hills on my Sunday morning run!

One thing that surprised me was how little I could hear as I pedalled along. When I run, I listen to my iPod. If I am running on country roads I have the volume set quite low, but it is by no means quiet. That said, I have never been surprised by a car. I have always heard them before I see them (and before they see me too!) Today I had no iPod. My bone dome doesn't cover my ears, but all I could hear was the wind rushing by. Twice cars 'crept up' behind me without me realising they were there until the last minute.

My shoulders were stiff when I got home, from tension and from holding on to the handlebars for dear life. I don't mind going up hill, but down hill is going to take some getting used to - as is the thought of taking my hands of the handle bars to signal! No aches and pains are evident - yet! I hope I don't wake up with aches in muscles I didn't know I had tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow I will run. Ideally I'd like to do this before I go to the hairdressers, but I have a busy timetable of things to sort out before heading to Bergerac for a wedding. Running kit will be packed, and I'll have another go on the bike when I get back next week!

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