Guest post by returning cyclist and Co-op fan Alan H.
I was going to call this article The Grey Haired Cyclist but thought it made me sound too old, I’m only 50! “Only” I hear you young ‘uns snigger!
So, I’m a 50 year old office worker who got back into cycling pretty recently in an attempt to avert death by office chair. I’m pretty sure that’s not a real disease but at my last check up the doctor did say, “You need to watch that, the chair will kill you!” And that got me thinking. I totted up how long I sat in a chair each day and it scared me a little bit; 9:00am to about 6:00pm with a few short breaks and a seated lunch. A drive home, seated, for a seated dinner then to vegetate in front of the television for 4 hours then bed. Does that sound familiar? Well that adds up to about 14 hours sitting and 7 or 8 hours sleeping so only about 3 hours vertical and moving around. That can’t be good!
My life in bikes
I used to cycle as a teenager back in the late 70s/early 80s. I graduated from the Raleigh Tomahawk – a smaller, less cool Raleigh Chopper – to a 5 speed Raleigh Scorpio road bike in orange. I loved it. it was light before being light was a thing and it flew (relative to my Tomahawk!) and gave me the freedom to ride the roads of North Lanarkshire like I owned them. But, being the fickle teenager I was, I left it behind and moved on to love other things, mainly girls and beer and it eventually disappeared when my mum downsized. I sometimes nostalgically search for one on auction sites… But that was me done with cycling until the mid 90s.
It was just a couple of years after I got married and money was a little tight, but mountain biking had arrived a few years before and it was cool. I bought a gripshift-equipped, Chro-Moly, Trek 830 in Ice Blue/Ice Violet fade (purple was cool in the 90’s) and rode that on tracks all over Central Scotland. But with a young family in the making, that too, faded into the background.
Seems like the problem I had was making cycling stick! It always bubbled along at a low level, with Pedal for Scotland appearances in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007. They were great events and after riding my MTB for 50 miles on knobblies then again on slicks they saw me get back into road bikes. Firstly with one of the early Edinburgh Bicycle road bikes then with a swish Cannondale CAAD 5. After 2007, cycling again faded back to maybe 2 or 3 outings a year.
Getting back into it
A couple of years ago I realised I was working pretty hard and simply wasn’t happy in myself. I felt my strength and energy fading as I approached 50. Was it just a 50 thing? Perhaps that had something to do with it but I never really thought anything about being 30 or 40 so perhaps not. I also picked up a nasty hamstring injury, which even after a year still isn’t 100% because when you’re older healing takes forever. I decided to have another go; someone once said, “You only fail when you stop trying!” I don’t know who, probably my gran who always had wee nuggets of wisdom like this.
I dusted down the old MTB, now ~20 years old, gave it a little fettling and then promptly took it to my local bicycle shop for a proper service. Now pretty much as good as new, I was off again. Now to make it stick!
Coming up next…
On the next blog I’ll share what works for me as a cyclist and where I am with my cycling. I’m planning to touch on routes and the kit I like but if you have any other suggestions please use the comments section below.