I’d never been much of an athlete at school and in July 2010, shortly after I joined The Grand Hotel, I signed up to run the Brighton Marathon. After months of gruelling training leading up to the race, I had come to appreciate its benefits. But I also ached - permanently. And so, it wasn’t long before I found myself under the “supervision” of a chiropractor.
“You’re too old for this” she told me. I agreed. “You need to find an alternative means of exercise. Something less brutal. Have you tried cycling?”
I knew little or nothing about biking. A few of my pals were “into it” but it wasn’t something I had ever really thought about committing to. At first I bought a cheap hybrid bike – as much as anything to ride to the pub on! But, as I used it more and more, I started getting the bug. So a few months later, with the encouragement of my MAMIL (Middle Aged Men In Lyrca) mates, I bought my first road bike.
I predominantly cycle socially, albeit with a couple of bigger events thrown in each year to focus my attention. I will occasionally ride alone but prefer going out with a group of likeminded friends. I’ve joined a local cycling club who meet and ride about 50 miles every Sunday morning. There’s always a coffee or pub stop involved so whilst we are getting fit (gradually) we don’t take it too seriously. I can sum it up by saying my cycling is “weather dependent”.
Apart from the obvious exercise I’ve found cycling helps you see and explore new territories. Often these are on your doorstep. Places you would never discover if you took the car. You meet new people. You chat as you ride. Conversation rarely centres around work, our busy hectic lives or any of the stresses of our days, moreover simple chat that helps clear the mind. The fresh air is wonderful. It can be really exhilarating. I admit I’ve always been a bit of a speed freak so I love a good spin down a long hill – a perfect reward to a tough climb.
My recommendation is to start with a fairly basic bike and work up from there if you like it. There are now hundreds of fantastic second bikes for sale on the internet - their users having either upgraded or lost interest. There’s no need to go mad on kit either – don’t let those MAMIL friends convince you otherwise.
1. What bike do you own?
“Carrera Hybrid (pub bike!), Giant Defy 2 (my first road bike – now for use after work when I stay in Brighton), Giant Defy Advanced 1 (my newer carbon upgraded bike – used at home on my main outings), Cube Mountain Bike – I couldn’t resist and bought it – last year to try cycling in the mud and wet!”
2. Cycling hero?
“Bernard Hinault. He won the Tour de France five times and is one of only six cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours.”
3. Furthest cycled in one day?
“100 miles – friends and I tend to do a 100-mile organised “sportive” once a year.”
4. Ideal cycling destination/route?
South of France. (Maybe into the Alps if I was able).
5. Mountain bike or road bike?
“I now prefer the road bike.”