Ah, it is time to re-visit the blog. Yet again I have lapsed since I last put my thoughts down on record. I decided to have a quick read of previous posts to remind me why I started doing it in the first place. I tend to write when something pops into my mind that interests me enough to commit to the internet although from the blog you’d think my thoughts lie predominantly in two areas, Politics and my own well-being. My last blog post was on the eve of the European Elections and I stand by every word I wrote then. More on elections soon I feel in the run up to the UK General Election 2015.
So that leaves my own well being as the current subject of interest. As I mature deep into middle age (currently 45, if I reach 90 I think I’ll be doing well!) I had become unfit, flabby and lazy. Last year was the nadir – by May 2014 I’d ballooned to my heaviest weight ever. Cripes!! I had to do something about it pronto! Over the summer I followed a well being programme at work which was based on a step count system, I stuck to a healthy eating plan (I’ve grown to despise the word “diet” over the years) and I decided to take up cycling once again. By the end of the summer I’d lost almost 3 stones in weight and gained a modicum of fitness, giving me an increased spring in my step and renewed zest.
However, over the long dark cold days of Winter an additional stone had crept back onto me from somewhere. Many factors have contributed to this; a holiday in Italy, birthdays, the Christmas period (which extended over a month), the quality of my home brewed beer and a fair weather easing on the exercise front. I had attempted jogging but I suspect that I was still too heavy and it wasn’t long before a muscle in my calf went twang. January came and went and another couple of pounds sneaked their way onto my body. I had to ensure that the rot stopped there before returning to my Michelin Man physique so I decided to set myself a challenge. It was back on the bike for me and with the encouragement of my loving family and a gentle press ganging of my brother to join in we declared that we would participate in the London to Cambridge bike race on 26th July 2015.
A little family history here. After some research it turns out that my Grandfather’s cousin was rather good on a bike. So much so in fact he was the first Scot to take part in Le Tour De France. I have also been inspired by my cousins in South Africa and Australia who cycle hundreds of miles a month. It must be in the blood! I loved biking to work when I was able to last summer, an activity I’m quite good at and won’t shatter my knees and shins in the same way that running would. However, this is not the sunny climes of the Antipodes but the cold and gloomy late winter of Britain. I don’t intend cycling in the dark, not for fear of seeing but more being seen and so I have to plan a weekend ride to fit around my family’s hectic schedule. I’m blessed as they couldn’t have been more supportive.
The first thing that hit me regarding cycling in a British winter is that hail hurts like hell on cold legs. I survived the icy bullets pebble dashing me and once the shower had passed over and the sun came out I was able to take the time to enjoy the countryside in my little corner of Suffolk. The snowdrops were just peeping through, there were embryonic buds on the trees and despite being soaked to the skin I peddled around a familiar route with a smile on my face. As this was the first outing of the year I kept it at around the 10 mile mark but incorporated one reasonable climb.
Gradually over the following weeks I have built up the distance and intensity of the climbs. There have been some additional challenges thrown at me by the weather, not least the 60 mph gusting wind that was blowing me backwards on one ride, the additional effort required rendered me barely able to walk afterwards. However, as I am getting fitter and stronger I’m also learning to take the conditions in my stride, when to force the pace and when to drop the gears and get through the tough stretch until you can catch your breath again on a down hill.
The race will be a tough challenge but I think I’m now at least in a position where I’m confident that I’m capable of completing it. I have many more miles to put on the clock before the off but it’s not a chore, I’m relishing the open road. This event is not going to be a conclusion to my bike riding, more a stepping stone for me on a journey into increasing my overall fitness levels.
To sponsor Iain and I on our ride from London To Cambridge follow the link here, https://www.justgiving.com/Graeme-Iain-Johnston – all monies raised from the event are going to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a charity registered in England & Wales (No. 1062636) & Scotland (SC039058). Whilst breast cancer has not affected our family directly many good friends of ours have lost loved ones. Please feel free to donate in memory of someone personal to you. Thank you.