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Re-Discovering Cycling

What is it about men and their bikes? Their bikes are objects that they worship! My husband certainly takes more care of his bicycle than he does in maintaining our little flat! Are all men the same? Sorry.... I just needed to vent a little!

When I was young I used to love riding my bicycle. We lived up a steep single track lane and I would often cycle down into the village to meet my school friends (and back up again afterwards – or perhaps I walked up, I can't quite remember!) However, one day I had a little incident - I met a horse on our lane very unexpectedly! I slammed the brakes on and unfortunately didn't realise that I was on gravel at the time. And that was that really... Over the handlebars I went in spectacular fashion. I have been very nervous of cycling ever since – especially downhill! You'll be pleased to know that I didn't break anything – surprisingly! And the horse was fine too – if a little startled.

Anyway... both my husband and I are fully aware that we are not getting enough exercise at the moment. I lost a lot of weight last year but I can feel it creeping back on slowly.... all due to lack of exercise. Therefore we both ordered a new bike for ourselves with the intention of getting out and about on them.

This was back in the New Year sales of January 2013. The weather hasn't exactly been kind to us since then! In all fairness, my husband has cycled part of the way to work quite a few times but my bike hit delay after delay in being delivered. I was meant to receive it in the middle of January, then at the end of January, then the beginning of February, then the beginning of March and then, we were told, April! At this stage I almost gave up but after a few phone calls to place an order with another company and to cancel the first, I did actually get my new bike in the middle of March.

So... we both have our bikes... now to exercise! Easier said than done! I am very much a 'don't like being cold or wet' person. Spring (I am writing this article in the middle of April) has only just sprung really....

We were going to cycle along the canal at Brecon last weekend but it rained! It has been sooooooo cold as well so we haven't really managed to get out at all – let alone for cycling.

Having said that, we did enjoy a lovely weekend away in North Devon for the Easter weekend. We were very lucky in that it was the first nice weekend weatherwise for what seems like an age!

We decided that as I was so nervous and it was a new bike we would cycle somewhere sensible. The Tarka Trail is great for beginners - tarmac all the way. I only remember one slight but rather long hill. I suspect most people would say “Hill! – What hill?” but you have to remember that I haven't cycled properly for at least 15 years so to me any slope is a hill!

On the Friday we cycled from Barnstaple to Braunton and back. Then on the Saturday we did a longer stretch and cycled from Weare Gifford to Fremington and back, after a lovely lunch at the cafe at Fremington. I was very observant that day and spotted a Spoonbill out on the coastline. I initially thought it was an Egret as there were a few around but then noticed its definitely spoonshaped bill. On Sunday we were going to cycle from Weare Gifford to Meeth but I am afraid that my poor bottom had had quite enough by then! To be honest, I think that I did very well.

I still have problems with stopping and starting on the bike – not at all elegant I'm afraid! What we are hoping for is a nice late spring and a lovely long summer so that we can get out on our bikes and I can become a little more confident before next winter sets in.

We are planning a week's holiday at the beginning of September when we are taking our bikes with us to France. Not sure how much cycling we'll get in... but hopefully some!

I will keep you posted on my progress!

Contributed by Maria

UPDATE

We have returned from a wonderful holiday in France with our camper van (Sophie) and our bikes on the bike rack. Well... I did two bike rides, both about 20 miles each. Along the canal by the Loire (we stayed at La Charite-sur-Loire), so not too strenuous. Having said that the weather was HOT HOT HOT!

I did it though... I am fine once I get started and as long as we don't have to stop. It is the stopping and starting I am still not getting the hang of. My mum has suggested a book for me to read... “Richard's Bicycle Book” by Richard Ballantine so my husband has gone and bought me a copy. Better get my head down! Apparently this book is excellent at informing you about the correct ways for manoueving a bicycle. We'll see!

I haven't given up yet anyway!

(Published 29th Oct 2014)

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