Rediscovery of an original (or how I’ve learnt to love cycling)

Rach, is mum to 7 year old J and a Legal PR consultant.  In her first post for Cycle Sprog, she takes us on her journey from being a reluctant cyclist through to discovering the joys of cycling via the school run.

I’m writing this piece with complete honesty – I feel compelled to do nothing less. I had no idea that over 10 years after getting my Trek Mountain Bike for my birthday,  I would be finally discovering the actual JOY that is cycling!

Back to where it all began….

Let me take you back to circa 2002….. I am 25 and decide that I and my boyfriend (now hubby, I am pleased to report) ought to get some bikes. Mr B goes for the aluminium fancy pants silver Specialized mountain bike and I go for a slightly cheaper women’s Trek MTB– I like it because it is navy blue- my favourite colour. There are absolutely no other reasons behind my decision.

We get home and, for a few weeks, we adventure out on our newly bought bikes. However, like a child, the novelty wears off when I realise that to go a decent distance I have to wear cycling shorts, and on my spindly legs I am very self-conscious. The bikes are put away. On the very odd occasion, we may get them out.

Baby on board!

Fast forward to Easter 2007 – we now have our gorgeous baby boy and book our very first Family holiday to Center Parcs at Whinfell. The bikes come out again and we borrow a cycle trailer from friends and get all excited!

We have a fab week at Center Parcs, cycling everywhere with baby J giggling away laid back in his bike trailer. We get home and life takes over again with the bikes put back in the garden shed, which quite frankly is a nightmare to access, with them only coming out for a ‘play’.

And so the cycle (geddit?!!) continues, we go on lots more Center Parcs holidays and even have the odd venture out to the local forest at Delamere.

At 3 years old, after a bit of time on a balance bike, our baby boy gains his independence when he learns to ride his bike without stabilisers! We are very proud and enter a new tentative era of all of us ably cycling about at the weekends when the sun is shining.

At this point, biking for me is still very much something I do so I can be involved with the boys. Whilst I do not hate it, I am not loving it either! I only go out when the weather is fair and then it’s only a trip to the local nature park.

So the pattern continues, and to be honest as J gets more and more confident on his bike, he wants to go off-roading at the forest with Daddy and I begin to feel like I may be holding them back as I am a total wimp when it comes to hurtling about on the uneven ground! Needless to say then, for a couple of years I don’t really go out on my bike at all, other than the trips back to Centre Parcs.

There is the background then. I was a fair weather cyclist (I am not saying that this is no longer the case by the way, as I still prefer a sunny day!), popping along with the boys when they went on a tame bike ride.  My enjoyment mainly derived from watching my son thrilled by going at speed and having the wind in his hair.

Excitement, exhilaration, engagement and enlightenment

I stated that I felt compelled to write about my new found love for cycling and that I will.  Please forgive me a moment longer whilst I just waffle on a bit more. You see you need to know that, as my friends will attest, I am not a practical person; I am not ‘at one with nature’ and I am certainly not a person who would be described as sporty or ‘outdoorsy’.  I have, however, been known to be totally at one with a new pair of shoes or I have been found getting engrossed in a fabulously trashy novel! If I am being totally honest I think the reason I haven’t engaged in anything properly sporty is due to the fact that quite frankly I am completely overwhelmed and intimidated by it all!!

Cycling at Center Parks

So, as you can imagine, the excitement that surrounds me when I get on my bike now is still a bit of a shock! Very recently I was advised by a physiotherapist/acupuncturist treating my back, I have a disc bulge and slightly misaligned pelvis and as a result suffer from lower back pain and sciatica, that rather than running, cycling is an excellent way to strengthen my core without placing any undue pressure on my legs and knees where I often feel pain.

This bit of news coincided with some better weather and the fact that I now no longer work in the city tied to a 9 ‘0’ Clock start. The local primary school is exactly a mile door to door.  J was very excited to have it suggested that Mummy will cycle to school with him!!!

This bike ride to school was the start of my revelation. I have often walked to school with J scooting, walking or cycling and it takes 15-20 minutes on a normal trip. We vary it going through the nature park at times, and bumping into friends along the way makes it very pleasant.

It was the journey home, however, that engaged, excited and enlightened me. The total freedom; the exhilaration of going fast down a hill like a kid, the way that I can completely forget about all my worries and just enjoy the fresh air with the wind blowing in my face.

Revelation! Cycling the school run is quicker than driving it! 

I have also found that I can get home faster than when I am in my car!! I don’t have to wait for all the other parents queuing out down the school street.

Now, I’m off down the cycle paths down into the nature park, without worrying about getting in people’s way or getting stuck in the traffic. I am in love – no doubt about it!!!  To top it off, the cherry on the cake, so to speak, is that it has definitely helped my back. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no miracle, but I definitely feel better after a ride and slowly my back is getting stronger.

What’s next?

I hope to keep cycling and get a bit braver in where I go. I aim to not get too intimidated by the fact that I don’t wear the right gear or have the latest gadgets on my Trek!  I’m excited about the summer, filling it with lots of bike rides and engrossing myself in the sheer freedom of being on my bike while pushing myself to get fitter and healthier with every turn of the wheel.  Watch this space… 

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Nice one. Cycling does help with teh back. Would be good to do some other exercises specificaly for your back. Pilates is also very good for your lower back.

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