Getting back in the saddle

Getting back in the saddle

When I was going on long bike rides with my ex sister-in-law 20 years ago, I was also working out 6 days a week, I was very fit and about four stone lighter.   I sort of forgot this bit!

Last month, we bought a new bike for me.  I was never really an enthusiastic cyclist as a child, I owned a Tomahawk (my brother got the Chopper) but I was more a roller skate and make perfume from petals type girl.

However, I am listening to a Fitpod from Thinking Slimmer at the moment and it is encouraging me to be active!  So, after a few discussions about what I would enjoy, I remembered bike rides around a local Dam with my ex-sister in law about twenty years ago and how much I enjoyed that so I decided that cycling was the very thing.

Getting back in the saddleThe Expectation:

My goal is to use the bike to become fitter and healthier.  As a result, I will be able to run after my eldest son without almost collapsing in a heap, I will lose weight and not have to get excited when a plus size clothes store opens locally and, of course, women driving behind me will have butt envy!

When I imagined cycling this is what I saw:

I would ride effortlessly through fields, down country lanes and along the sea front with my hair flowing in the breeze.  My little basket would carry my camera for me to capture those spectacular views, along with my journal for inspired writing and, of course, bread, jam and lemonade (ok, I love Famous Five books).  I would stop at a coffee shop and sit outside in the sun, writing my afore-mentioned inspired journal entries.  People would look at me with envy – “what a calm, collected and intriguing person” – strangers would stop and ask my secret to happiness.  The sun would be shining and the wind would blow gently and give my cheeks a fetching pale pink glow.  People would stop, smile and shout “good morning” as I rode past – perhaps even an occasional doff of a cap!

The reality:

When I was going on long bike rides with my ex sister-in-law, I was also working out 6 days a week, I was very fit and about four stone lighter.   I sort of forgot this bit!

I don’t ride effortlessly.

Every push of the pedal takes effort, I hate changing gears as I have yet to make sense of them and let’s be frank here – country lanes have hills!  Not gentle inclines but big, steep, thigh-burning, heart-attack inducing hills.  To get to the sea front would involve far too many steep hills (and a return journey) and my bike is too heavy for me to lift into the car to drive to the sea front for a ride.

My hair is under a helmet, plastered to my head with pure sweat!

My camera has never made it out of the basket as I am so busy focussing on keeping upright so I have yet to admire the spectacular views.

My journal entries are not inspired, they read “ouch, ouch, what was I thinking”.

The sun does occasionally shine but I live in Kent, England so sunshine is not a regular feature!  The wind does not blow gently, in fact as I write this the wind is moving garden furniture around outside, so my cheeks do not have a pale pink glow.  The wind combined with the steep hills (in fact, any cardio) means that my face is bright red, not a mere healthy pink glow.  I mean a really bright, postbox red face – so people are not smiling as I ride past, they are asking if I need medical assistance!

As for doffing of caps – one man decided to make the sound of a cow as I rode past him and what really hurt me was I was too out of breath to retort.  As he was sat eating a pizza with his stomach on show, I had so many answers too!

As if this is not enough, I also become intimately acquainted with my bike seat this week when I rode over a pot hole.

The moral of the story

I need to remember my coaching and goal setting tips.  Getting to the dream isn’t going to happen overnight.  Instead of quitting, I need to change the plan.  The goal remains the same – I will ride effortlessly through fields and country lanes, I will be inspired to write in my journal and I will not have a puce red face after a mere five minutes.  And someone will doff their cap to me – even if I have to pay someone to do it!!  So all of this will happen, perhaps just not immediately.

This is the problem with goals isn’t it?  We often forget the work that has to go into getting there.  We have a goal and we can do the visualisation bit of manifesting our goals, we just haven’t accepted that if we want to get there, a bit of effort will be involved.  Changing our habits doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.  We can’t jump on a bike after a twenty year gap and expect to be competing in the Tour De France within a week.  This is often when we quit. But remember quitters never win and winners never quit!

So small steps is how we need to do it.  Here are my next small steps:

  • I need to find some flat routes, some routes which I feel safe riding alone on.  May involve moving to Norfolk!
  • I also need to invest in some “tinted moisturiser” to disguise the red face
  • I need to work out what the heck the gears do instead of just taking pot luck as I go.

Can you help?

If you know any really flat routes in Kent or can advise on tinted moisturiser to disguise red faces then please get in touch.  Most importantly, if you know what the heck gears are for on a bike and how to get the most out of them, then please let me know!!  My mountain bike has 18 gears (so I am told).  I know there are three gears (on one handle) and six (on another), I also know that one set is at the front and one at the back.  That’s it!  That knowledge means nothing to me.  It’s like telling me that my car has a certain bhp or that using a certain type of filter for certain photos is best!  I can repeat that knowledge but it means nothing!

So all help, tips and any advice is very very welcome.  Think of offering this help as a way of being generous to achieve your own personal happiness.




  1. I’m sorry but I am literally laughing out loud reading this! Not least because it’s funny but: 1. I am exactly the same! I had the same images of bike riding (only I had never ridden before). 2. I did warn you about those hills! 3. The gears you use are lower, the steeper the incline (think of it the same as car gears).

    I will get on my bike again…………..what, I will! xx

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