Thursday, 28 August 2014

Yes, I'm a cyclist

female_cyclist_uk_blog
female_cyclist_uk_blog


At the end of June, I made a pretty big decision regarding my health and lifestyle in general. I was never a child that really exercised – PE certainly wasn’t my favourite subject in school and I didn’t keep it up after I left. I loved swimming, did some bike rides during the summer and walked to college but it’s safe to say that my active life was rather sedentary. There were a few spells during university where I did a 5 week stint at the gym following a few special offer deals, but nothing that became a routine and certainly nothing that I kept up.

I’ve had my Pashley for well over a year now, and riding in to town became a common activity with my boyfriend, Graham. Now here’s something that you should know. Graham is a cyclist. You know, a cyclist. A roadie, a pretty serious rider that often does 60 miles in one go on the weekend, just for fun. It took me a long while to understand it. I didn’t see the appeal, but he became happier and it was a great new hobby compared to sitting in front of the computer for hours playing video games. He bought an (expensive) carbon fibre road bike which is really when he came into his own. When we rode in to town at the weekends, he took his ‘commuter’ bike; a lovely vintage 80s Peugeot, handed down to him by his Mum, whilst I road on the heavy but beautiful Pashley. So that’s a little bit of the back story. And now I’ve decided I’m an offical cyclist too.

In June, I bought my very own road bike. It’s a Marin Ravenna, and as soon as I rode it round the car park I knew it would be different. It was so light! Compared to my Pashley, this was light as a feather. It was a total joy to ride and I looked forward to riding it at the weekends, and not just in to town. My very first ride, we rode from our home in Southampton to Beaulieu and back through Hythe – about 30 miles. I had the kit, so I felt pretty pro. I felt good for doing exercise, but I wasn’t hooked yet. There were some adjustment issues – the saddle was uncomfortable and my sit bones hurt for the next few days despite my padded shorts. Thankfully Graham is a bike mechanic and made all the changes I needed. Oh, and on that first ride? I rode into a curb going round a corner, and burst in to tears.

We rode to Beaulieu for the next few weekends. I rode in to a ditch. I cried a couple more times on each ride. Last Sunday I rode 38 miles and I didn’t cry. I felt really good actually. I was excited to see my times on Strava, see my personal records and excited about going out again to improve myself further. That’s how I know I am a cyclist.

June was also the beginning of another huge change for me. I got a personal trainer. I started with four sessions, one a week at Brightside Personal Training. The main reason for this is to improve my posture – not my cardio fitness. I have had a curved back for as long as I remember, too much sitting down at a desk and the muscles in my lower back began to do all the work. I had no core strength, my hamstrings were tighter than a 60 year olds and I could barely touch my knees, let alone my toes. Yeah – pretty bad. I’d been trying in the past few years to simply try and stand up straight and pull my shoulders back but the amount of time I spend at a desk because of my job as a graphic designer, meant it just wasn’t good enough. My personal trainer, Alex, and I work in my sessions to build my muscles, increase my flexibility and improve my posture. Currently, I do a session every two weeks, as well as an exercise routine at home. I do a 45-minute workout 3-4 times a week to ensure my muscles don’t get lazy in between my PT sessions. It’s kind of tough, and I have to work hard with my motivation to do it but I know its working and I can see results already. My workouts at the studio changes every time I have a session, but the home routine is the same until we review it every four weeks. Then, it gets updated as I improve and we add harder exercises in to the routine. Like I said, it’s not easy. Considering how little activity I did before, this is a big step. But I feel great for it. And the best thing? I feel happier. And I can touch my toes!

I try and get out on my bike at the weekends, and sometimes a shorter ride in the week depending on the weather, but it mostly depends on my schedule and I don’t always have time. It’s something I hope to improve on because I need to work on my cardiovascular fitness as well as my muscles, and that’s what the bike is for. I’ll be posting about my fitness more often on the blog so do let me know what you think and if you’d like to know about anything particular! I feel like there’s a bit of a negative bubble surrounding road cyclists and I’m keen to dispel any misconceptions about road cycling.

Big thanks if you’ve read this far, and let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.
Cycling causes some heated debates and there are a lot of preconceptions out there about road cycling in particular. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so pop a comment down below!

8 comments

  1. Well done you for taking up cycling! Really interesting read. I'm not a cyclist myself and have been looking at Pashley's because I like the sound of riding into town and riding home with some fresh bread in the basket! I'm a runner - or at least I try - but was also really interested to hear about you using a personal trainer to improve posture - I was only talking abut this the other day. Keep us posted on how it's going because I might invest in a PT!

    www.honeybourneline.co.uk

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    1. Thanks for your comment Roseann! I have to say I love the image of me on a Pashley, I always put my shopping in my basket and I have panniers now too which add to 'kitsch' look! Will keep you updated on PT front :) x

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  2. This is awesome! I was never very athletic as a child either, but I've learned to enjoy exercising more as I've gotten older. A few months ago I bought a bike attachment so my dog could run next to my bike, which was pretty fun! You've definitely inspired me to do that with her soon :)

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

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    1. Thank you Cat! That's great, it's hard to get back in to something at first but after the first go you can remember why you started :) x

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  3. I loved this post Katie! My dad took up mountain biking a couple of years ago as he was doing a sponsored cycle thing for Children in Need and really loved it, and I started going out on a spare bike after seeing how much he enjoyed it and how much weight he lost - and I loved it too! I'm just about to move to London so not sure how my biking career will fare there but it's so nice to find a method of exercise that you actually enjoy (and that doubles as a method of transport!) Well done!

    Bxx
    b-jolly.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Bella! Thats great, what a good way to spend some time with your Dad too! Good luck with the move to London, there's always boris bikes I guess ;) x

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  4. I have wanted to get into cycling for ages, maybe I should just take the plunge and buy that bike! Really enjoying your blog, I grew up near Southampton and went to college in Brockenhurst so it is lovely to here about what you are getting up to in the area. Thank you for a lovely blog, Abi xx
    awalkdownteastreet.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Abi! I grew up in the New Forest and a lot of friends went to Brock :) I contemplated cycling for a while and found just buying the bike to be a final kick up the bum to get going, I'd definitely recommend it :) xx

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