How to come out of hibernation

So, winter has been long and rather harsh.  In fact, as I write this, the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ weather front is causing havoc across many parts of the UK, bringing icy cold temperatures and dumping inches of snow.

Ironically, I look out my front window to see beautiful blue sky and not a snowflake in sight.  Hmmm…. I should dawn my lycra, get out Dexter and go for a ride.  I’m not doing that, though. Instead, I’ve decided to write.   My writing, like my cycling, has taken a back seat this winter, and I’m feeling guilty about both.

Unfortunately, winter allowed me to hide away, to hibernate in fact.  I opted for cosy pyjamas, red wine, warm fires and mindless TV.  The mornings were dark. The nights were darker.  The children got sick and then we did too.  Work got busy and then even busier.  I felt more and more lethargic.  And this general malaise lasted an interminable amount of time … months and months … before I started to feel relatively human again.  I’m not sure if you’d call this Seasonal Affective Disorder or just sheer laziness. I had no energy and no motivation to cycle. I didn’t write and I didn’t tweet.

And, then, something happened. I noticed the days were getting longer. I saw the first lambs in the field wearing their little orange jackets.  I spied the snowdrops peeking their white heads through the grass.  I heard the birds chirping in my garden.  I woke up.

On a beautiful but cold, big, blue-sky day, I clipped in, pushed off and climbed, slowly at first, up the hill outside my house.  By the time I got to the top, my cheeks were flushed and my heart was pounding, but I was smiling.  I looked around – rolling hills, sheep, chimneys and a church spire. I breathed in deeply – crisp, fresh air.  I felt the sun on my face. I saw my husband, way ahead at this point, take a drink from his bottle.  I raced to catch up with him and then said, ‘why didn’t we do this sooner?’

This … just this … open road, bike, blue sky, lungs filled with fresh air, the person you love … is all you need.  This is what clears the cobwebs, takes your mind off the stresses of life and allows you to reconnect – with nature, with yourself, with what’s really important – your physical and mental health.

And then we pedalled as fast as we could downhill … I almost forgot how exhilarating cycling can be.  It’s a bit risky, it’s a bit fast, it’s a bit painful, and it’s entirely perfect for rousing yourself from hibernation.  I’m now 53 miles in to my spring cycling campaign and can’t wait for my next ride.

If you’re feeling the same way I was, the best advice I can give you is just do it!  Hop on. Clip in. Go slowly up hill and really fast down.  Breathe deeply and feel the warm sunshine on your face.  Look around and notice all the signs of spring.  Remind yourself of how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful part of the world.  Smile and ride on.





For the love of God, get on your bike boy!

Let me start this post by saying we love our children, we really do.

But, if I’m brutally honest, neither our 15 year-old girl nor our 12 year-old boy has been overly blessed with any sort of sporting prowess.  And whilst we would love for them to benefit mentally and physically from cycling, as we do, we’re starting to realise that our love of cycling is only contagious in the infectious disease sort of way.

Honestly, we’re about to give up our bid to encourage our teenagers’ healthy lifestyles as it’s ruining our own.  Just getting them out of the house is a trial.  It’s funny how much homework magically transpires when we suggest going for a ride.

And then, while on the ride, there’s the moaning about the sore bum, the stopping every 10 minutes for a drink, the screaming when a fly hits a face, the slowing every time a car approaches, and the refusal to actually change gears even when it’s in their best interest (because, you know, they know best!). Even balance seems to be a skill that eludes our children.

I swear my son spends more time walking his bike than he does riding it.  ‘What’s the point of that?’, I ask him.  His reply: ‘well at least I’m getting some exercise!’ Yes, there’s an answer for everything too.  At my wit’s end I yell, For the love of God, get on your bike boy!’ Slowly, as he does everything at his own pace, he climbs back on and spins away in his little ring, going nowhere fast.

I should have cottoned on that we may be on a hiding to nothing, when, at the dinner table one evening, our daughter tells us she took multiple attempts to pass her school’s cycling proficiency certificate and our son proudly affirms that he ran into the instructor! When we asked the boy what the upshot was of injuring the very person deciding his roadworthiness, he said simply: ‘we both pretended nothing happened.’

So there you go.  Taking a leaf out of that instructor’s book, my husband and I have decided to pretend that it doesn’t matter if our own children can’t cycle.  We’re sure there are plenty of non-balancing, non-outdoor, non-aerobic, and non-sweat inducing types of sports our children are good at.

Besides, the cost of our increased blood pressure and anger management classes simply doesn’t warrant the effort.  From now on, cycling is our domain; perhaps the only one remaining not infiltrated by kids.  Hey ho, at least there’s an upside to being a bad parent.