You might think, given that I enjoy cycling and that I lack Parkinsonian symptoms while doing it, that I’d be using it as my primary aerobic exercise. I may yet, but I have a few curious issues with this idea.
The first is that, as far as I’m concerned, cycling is for getting around. It’s a means to an end, not an end in itself. I had a bike before I had a car, and I used it to go places. I kept the bike after I bought a car, and I used it – when I could – in preference to the car because it was cheaper (a triple whammy of maintenance, fuel and parking charges) and because, crucially, it was decidedly greener. I also liked being outside. The fact that cycling improved my fitness was just a nice side effect.
I’ve never really been bothered about ‘going for a bike ride’. The joy of cycling, for me, comes from the efficiency of a good bike in an appropriate situation. I liked the fact that it was marginally quicker to cycle to work along the A4 at rush hour than it was to drive. I liked being able to whoosh into town at lunch time and not have to worry about parking or causing pollution. I liked being able to move around a city without it taking ages and without waiting for buses.
The second is related to the first in that I feel I have nowhere to ride. I don’t want to ride in circles around the village. The shops are such a short distance away that by the time I’ve dug the bike out of the shed I could have walked there. The nearest towns are 7 miles or more away and I don’t quite feel up to facing that sort of distance, let alone the main roads. I certainly don’t want to risk life and limb on a destinationless ride around twisty country roads where I’m likely to meet some idiot driver going too fast who doesn’t see me until the last minute.
I suppose, really, my issue is a very personal one. I enjoy cycling for what it is, a means of transport, and I don’t want to kill that enjoyment. Even when I had no car, I always had a choice; in bad weather, I did resort to the bus, or I walked. But when the primary object is fitness, buses and walking don’t exactly cut the mustard.
But… my yoga class is (for now) right at the other end of the village. I refuse to drive that sort of distance and it is far enough to make it worth the bother of digging the bike out of the shed. There’s a stonking great hill just before you get there, and I can’t make it up that at the moment (oh, I suppose low mountain bike gears are good for something).
So that’s one bike ride. Once a week (during term time).
I’ve also worked out another. The village got bypassed at some stage and part of the old main road is nice and straight and largely junctionless. From here, I can get to that road, bez up it, slowing down as it gets a bit steeper (but not too steep for the lowest of my 5 gears and my lack of fitness), and then come back along a reasonably wide and straight bit of the new main road. As a bonus, the main road bit is slightly downhill, which means it’ll be a cinch to keep straight and steady. It took me about 20 minutes yesterday. I quite enjoyed it.
I think I’ll go and do it again.