On my bike

1964 Portsmouth Road SCCU 25 mile time trial championship. Finished 6th aged 18

The first thing I turned to when I decided to get fit again and lose weight was cycling. As I said in the introduction to my cycling blog, Bicycle Diaries,  cycling had been my main sport from 1962 at the age of 16 to my late 30s when I finally gave up racing. Since then, through the 1980s and 90s, I continued to cycle occasionally for pleasure. This has included touring in France on solos and on a tandem, particularly in the 1980s, the Sea to Sea and other Sustran’s routes. However, I have rarely used my bike over the last 15 years or so. The details of how I got back into cycling for fitness in July 2012 can be found in the initial blog post Starting Again so I won’t repeat that all here.

Social ride to Beninborough Hall August 2013

As a way of getting fitter cycling has been ideal and certainly worked for me. I enjoy the social rides I go on from time to time with the Leeds Cycling Campaign social group on Saturday mornings and still hope to go more regularly on the Sunday morning intermediate and, in due course, longer rides. Last year I started to organise informal social rides with members of the Bradford U3A racketball group (the subject of a future post). I had hoped to develop these rides this year but after my mountain bike crash in April in which I ruptured a kidney the summer was pretty well lost as far as cycling was concerned and it never happened. I still intend to do this next year. By now I was hoping to be riding sportives and audaxes and entered one. the Lincoln Arrow, earlier in the year. This also fell victim to the crash. However, I returned to Bergerac in France early July and rode the circuit there that had got me going again 3 years earlier and am well on the way to recovery now, ignoring for the moment that as a result of my stay in hospital I have since been diagnosed with prostate cancer. To cut a long story short, it is a low grade, low risk slow growing variety (as best they can tell so far) so I am on the ‘active surveillance’ programme where they keep an eye on it and are prepared to act swiftly if things change for the worse. I’ve reproduced both these posts here and they follow this one.

Cycling will continue to be a central part of my fitness regime for a number of reasons. I still very much enjoy it, the sense of simplicity and freedom, the experience of connection with my surroundings and movement on a human scale. I read somewhere and I hope to find it again somehow, that the ideal scale for life in the future will be that which can be encompassed in a days cycle ride. In Copenhagen about 45% of journeys each day are by bicycle. In Leeds and Bradford it is about 1% I believe. In common with many other cities now, Leeds and Bradford are making serious efforts to improve cycling infrastructure and encourage people to cycle for short journeys and commutes. So many different agendas are addressed by this – health, morbidity and obesity, environmental pollution, stress and mental health, generally well being. Hopefully cycling will become a safe and routine way of getting about in our area.

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