At the moment it feels like I am zooming downhill on the road of life, enjoying the wind in my hair with only a few bumps ahead.
Everything is going well and I have finally lost the weight I accumulated six months ago.
I realised I had to do something when I went up a dress size and was forced to bulk-buy so I had enough work clothes, sending me into my overdraft this month.
So how did I lose weight?
I love food but I tried to cut down on sugar, especially after my dentist said I had acid erosion.
I also increased my exercise intensity and frequency. Instead of going to the gym once a week, I went two or three times a week.
I started cycling to work more often. Then I bought a cheap fold-up bike from my local Halfords in the sales. I had not realised how heavy it was and lugging the 14kg box the half an hour to the bus stop was an ordeal.
This lovely little fake Brompton means I can commute to work when half the day is dry and then carry it on public transport when it rains. The bus driver was not impressed but I just smiled sweetly and thanked him profusely. I ensured I kept it secured and out of the way of passengers.
I try to do some exercise every day.
I have increased the number of netball matches I help out with. I used to play in one every few weeks. Now I play up to three matches a week, actively volunteering rather than waiting for an invite. The practice means I can now run faster and defend better.
I love the game because of its fast pace, the intensity, the fine footwork, the challenge and the thinking involved. Helping to get the ball in the net is such a boost. I don’t even realise I’m doing exercise when all my attention is fixed on the blurry ball as it arcs from player to player.
On the weekend I go for at least one long bike ride. I am lucky that I live near the Peak District, so I pedal out to local beauty spots or to villages and back.
I love the sense of freedom and admiring nature’s beauty, enjoying the breeze cool your face. When you whizz downhill and lean over the handlebars it feels like you’re flying.
I like to stop at little cafes at the furthest point of my journey as that helps me stay motivated on the hills. Then I take in the scenery whilst sipping lemonade and enjoying a slice of cake. I don’t have to feel guilty about it either because I burn around 880 calories and zero fossil fuels on a 25 mile round trip.
Remember, cars run on money and make you fat, but bikes run on fat and save you money!
Think about your week. How could you increase the amount of exercise you do?
On Sunday leafy Yorkshire was invaded by the French for the first time since the Norman invasion.
Even our local newspaper was taken over, with a commentator yelling “speciale edition of ze Yourkshe post!”.
A mannequin on a roof.
We arrived early in the morning in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. There were ancient stone houses and farmers’ fields everywhere and the smell of cut grass lingered in the air.
Parking spaces were already filling up on verges of the narrow country bridges and pavements. There was a festival atmosphere with many of the crowd in yellow, many already lining the route including the BBC.
Quite a lot of people had camped overnight to get the top spots. Copyright literarylidi
We walked up one long steep hill. I pitied the Tour de France riders who would have to climb it. If it was me I would certainly get off and walk.
We passed a field with numerous food stalls from hog roasts to Carribbean food to the local brewery stalls and then on to the Portacabin cess pits, although at this early stage they were still fairly hygienic.
Any stalls advertising coffee had lines of caffeine addicts desperately awaiting their morning fix. My boyfriend’s friends spent about an hour in it for theirs.
A sausage sandwich was necessary for the wait. We found a bit of the verge that had been left as it was narrow and established our territory. With just crisps and chit-chat we whiled away the hours until lunch – a picnic. All the while spectators streamed past up the hill, desperate for a patch of grass to claim.
A lot of people had cycled there including a lady in a polka-dot dress. A mother produced giant chalks and her children drew all over the road with them, including her. She seemed to be enjoying it more than them.
Then just half an hour before the event began a large lady with small dark eyes close to her nose, her skinny older husband with parchment skin from years of nicotine abuse and their whiny little boy were walking in the road and stopped at us.
The mother eyed us up and decided we were soft targets.
“Do you mind if we stand here, we’ll stand behind you and won’t cause any trouble” she said aggressively.
It was more an order than a question and without waiting for an answer she shoved herself and her family between us. We ignored them so she continued her tirade:
“don’t see why they mind, we’ve got as much right to be here as they have, it’s a free country, it’s not like they own the land. Anyway I don’t see why they’re sitting down” she glanced at me indignantly “there’d be a lot more space for other people if they stood up.”
Her husband timidly intervened “they might have been waiting here for many hours.” She relented slightly “well they may have but why shouldn’t we stand here as well, we’re standing behind them and we aren’t gonna cause any trouble are we?” she said to her offspring, who about ten minutes later started whining “is it gonna start yet? mummy when’s it gonna start? it’s been aaages! I’m bored!”
“Play with your sword then” the space offender suggested and her son started thrashing his plastic sword and shield about at spectators.
The procession of police and gendarmes began at around 3 with continuous sirens and beeps. Then came the marketing cars and floats throwing out freebies. They were not as generous with them as I would have liked and of course most of them went to the boy beside us. But I imagined to get a cow keyring with some French on it. They were mostly floats for French companies but some were international. One had massive drinks on and ice cubes, a car sported a plastic bottle of wine the length of the roof:
and there was a gym van with people on exercise bikes racing away.
There was a van covered in cheese and one with meat advertising a French supermarket that we also shopped at in Turkey of all places.
Then there was a constant stream of police landrovers, motorbikes and cars with thin dainty racing bikes on. I started to feel a little sick at the amount of taxpayer money inevitably funding all those police, who were more needed along the route. Occasionally our stewart shouted “get behind the white line” but often forgot, so some people were nearly taken out by wing mirrors.
The crowd became more and more excited, with Mexican waves rippling about.
Three generations in eager anticipation. Copyright literarylydi
Finally it was the race we’d all been waiting for. A helicopter swooping low overhead heralded their arrival.
We heard the cheers rippling further and further up the hill as the police escort heralded the arrival of the leanest meanest cycling machines in Europe if not the world.
I was expecting them to look exhausted but their matchstick muscle legs seemed to propel them effortlessly past, with not even a drop of sweat flying off onto us in the front row.They were almost sitting back in the saddle admiring the crowds, who surged forwards almost into the road. There was no steward to be seen and one guy stepped into the path of a competitor and he had to swerve around.
I was absorbed in the atmosphere and in my camera, experimenting with the different effects.
Then came the middle group really working, most standing up and leaning forward, smiling as the spectators shouted and screamed.
The crowds were going crazy for it! Copyright literarylydi
It was a Lycra line of calf muscles bulging out like biceps. I was unaware that the British cyclist had already passed as no one had acknowledged him in the fly-past.
Then came the stragglers and this time I could just make out rivers of sweat running down their face in the 20 degree humid heat, having climbed at least 500 metres of torturous hilly bends. An ambulance whizzed past with its lights on.
There was a pause and then everyone went into the road and started heading home, moving baby steps for about half an hour, when suddenly police cars and bikes parted the crowd and one straggler acknowledged the crowd with a wide grin as he palely inched past us in yellow.
He even manages to raise a smile despite being crowded in. Copyright literarlydi
Then in true Yorkshire style, it began to rain as we headed to the car.
Cyclist heading home in the downpour.
We spent hours in a traffic queue overlooking the beautiful open countryside as Tour wannabes whizzed by.
On the way back I saw some “tourmakers” having a consultation in their frog green outfits.
Would I go again? I doubt it. We waited hours and hours for about 15 minutes of cyclist champions but I don’t regret it because of the sheer excitement and energy of the event.
When we got home we watched Lewis Hamilton win the Grand Prix which finished our grand day out nicely.
Recently I had the opportunity to join a women-only cycling group, Over-ride Ladies MTB (Mountain Bike). I heard about it whilst taking my bicycle in for the equivalent of an M.O.T. Rides are free and held weekly in various locations.
I am using my bike on the road so I think it is essential to get it checked out, even if I think it appears to be fine. In the end it needed minor repairs and ran much better for them. It was just £20.
One of the group members with a bike rack kindly gave me a lift. We cycled up to and around a local reservoir. Here’s what I enjoyed about it:
– You feel more motivated exercising in a group, seeing ladies zooming down the rocky road helped me see it could be done and I decided to try it. I kept my weight towards the back wheel and didn’t break hard and it was safe. I rode more confidently afterwards. Seeing ladies in front ensured I kept the pace up.
– It was good for socialising, we had a good gossip whilst whizzing along.
– It was uplifting on my mood – both for the company and from the exercise. The positivity and enthusiasm of others was infectious.
– It’s safe. If you had an accident there would be someone to help.
I got back home that night feeling relaxed and happy. I am now trying to persuade my boyfriend to get a mountain bike so we can do charity cycle rides together. Bumping along over rough terrain is much more fun than dodging cars with a road bike. The thicker tyres cope well with any minor obstacles. Enjoying the beautiful views with the sunset and meeting new people had made the experience immensely enjoyable and I can’t wait for the next one.
It appears that Emma Way boasted on Twitter “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way – he doesn’t even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists.” It went viral and Twitterers were quick to alert Norwich police, who tweeted back: “We have had tweets ref an RTC with a bike. We suggest you report it at a police station ASAP if not done already & then dm us”.
This was especially affecting today as I did my second cycle commute. Why should we pay tax on this when potholes in bike lanes force us to dodge round them onto the road? When many roads still do not have red lanes? When we can’t use them as cars park in them? When they end without warning? When there is glass on them?
As blogger Reid of ipayroadtax.com points out, the reality is that there is no “road tax”. Road construction and maintenance is paid for by everyone through taxes. The Vehicle Excise Duty that motorists pay is levied according to engine size or CO2 emissions.
The negative sentiments of motorists towards two-wheelers was apparent when a friend said “sorry but if a bike even grazes my wing mirror I will go bat sh** crazy”. She didn’t relent even when I pointed out that this would probably happen because she hadn’t left the cyclist enough space.
As for the claim that two-wheelers should have lessons on rules of the road, I actually agree with this. I learnt from asking others, but there needs to be compulsory training in schools. Some in my city already run courses. This would encourage more people to use this green method of transport, as they would feel more prepared and confident.
I only had one problem today – a flashy hatchback wouldn’t let me get past him to the front of the lights. This meant I had to work a lot harder to cycle up a slight hill before they changed again. Let a bike get ahead of you to the front of the queue. They need the extra time.
On the plus side though, I have found red lanes that run through town! It takes me down quieter roads, I just have to be careful of the numerous side roads leading on to it. This time buses left me more space, and I took care to look behind me when coming out from bus lanes or parked cars.
Yes, both sides flout the Highway Code. But I believe the majority do not. Isn’t it about time we put aside our differences? Lets share the road and make both our commutes less stressful.
Most people admire my preferred method of transport, dicing with death and attacking hills deters them. Yet it is not as risky as they think – I have had no trouble. In fact, these challenges are the very reason I get a thrill from pedal power. Once you have conquered the gradient and potential danger you know that nothing at work can hold you back.
Today was the first time I have cycled to work! It was twice as fast as the bus and once there I felt invigorated and powered through the morning.
I used to use my brother’s bike. He cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats as a teenager and raised hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research UK, and I was inspired by this to try a commute. After all if he emerged unscathed from a trip like that, half an hour on the roads should be no problem.
I rode until the bus and cycle lanes finished and then decided to keep safe by walking through town. Red lanes here are ridiculous, one stops at the top of a hill before cars go into a bottleneck at the bottom, so you often have to go on the pavement as the queue doesn’t leave enough room.
Cars often park in the lanes meaning you have to weave around them. But at least most of the vehicles were generous with space.
My bag was a bit heavy – I had to carry both locks in it – you should have one in between the wheel, over the main frame and round the bar and the other securing the back wheel going through the main frame and round the bar. If this sounds a bit confusing have a look at the image below.
I considered getting insurance – it would probably cost me less than the bus.
I thought it would be a lot harder returning uphill than it was – whenever it got a bit much I could get on the pavement and walk. I was clearly a first-timer – other 2-wheel commuters were whizzing past me as if they were in the Tour de France. I felt like a fancy dress runner at the back of a marathon.
The only thing is that it’s not that safe to be zooming down when the road is wet, so most of the time the weather will prevent me from commuting in this way. But I enjoyed regaining control for the day, no longer forced to wait in the cold for a bus that may or may be late, smelly or snail-slow.
On arrival the facilities were sufficient – there was a shower, although it was a bit basic not having a changing room. I was amused by a notice requesting users to direct the shower head away from the door to avoid a “swimming pool” floor, to which one indignant bather had responded in red capitals “OR YOU COULD INVEST IN A BETTER SHOWER CUBICLE!” I hovered around my stuff on the one chair whilst changing and as there was no mirror I did my makeup in the toilets.
My verdict? You can bike to the top of town from my area using the bike/bus lanes. Just be careful of the buses as they don’t leave much space and will come up right behind you if you hold them up (despite the fact that they seem to be quite happy to go slower than the speed limit at any other time). Look behind you when coming out of bus lanes – I squeaked as a bus sped right past me almost as I was coming out of it, leaving no room whatsoever. It was a little annoying having to walk right through town as there are no decent lanes running through – for example there is a strip on one side of the road going down but not coming up. But really it depends on our changeable weather…I don’t fancy getting cold and wet.
As for elsewhere – I’ve heard cycling in London can be quite risky and from what I have heard I wouldn’t recommend it!
Top 10 First-Timer Tips
1. Follow the rules of the road. If you’re not sure read the Highway Code. Or copy what more experienced cyclists do. Signal clearly well before turning using the signals below. Make sure you keep your balance whilst you do so.
2. Give your bike an M.O.T the night before – check the tyres to ensure they’re hard enough, cycle round a bit to check the gear chain is in good working order and the seat is at the right height.
3. Make sure you have a helmet and wear a reflective jacket even in the day. If you’re wearing clothes that make you noticeable, keeping as far to the side as possible and following the rules of the road then there is no excuse for anyone driving.
4. If you’re going to wear work clothes, wear a “wicking” shirt underneath that draws away the sweat. Secure your trousers with reflective bands or they’ll get shredded in the gear chain axle. I’d advise wearing skin tight “pedal-pushers” (three-quarter length trousers) a t-shirt and a light longer sleeved jacket as a wind-breaker. A shower is also recommended!
4. ALWAYS LOOK BEHIND YOU WHEN COMING OUT of a lane. Be it a bus stop marking or from behind a car. It’s best to wait for a gap in traffic or wait for a car that’s seen you and has therefore left space.
5. AVOID ROUNDABOUTS – it’s tricky to stay in the right lane and cars can’t always leave sufficient space and may not be looking around their lane as they come round the bend. Also, beware of slippy roads in wet weather and AVOID TRAM TRACKS – many friends have fallen off riding on these.
6. Beware of potholes on bike lanes – where I live there are quite a few! Also beware of broken glass in them. Your commute will be much slower with a puncture. Then if possible, walk to work from the end of the bike lane like I do – I’d rather take a bit more time getting there than risk my safety.
7. ANTICIPATE – just as important as when driving, leave space for people getting out of parked cars. Keep an eye on pedestrians, they may not be aware of you when crossing the road.
8. Lock both front and bike wheels to the main frame and the bar. If you are concerned about security perhaps consider insuring your bike, it’ll cost less than replacing it and perhaps less than using public transport.
9. Make sure you have a hearty lunch or a snack approximately two hours before you leave. It’s no fun cycling on an empty stomach. But don’t eat less than two hours before or your blood will be involved in digestion rather than powering your muscles.
Try it and write about your experience. It fulfilled my exercise needs of the day, saved me time and money, was carbon-neutral and had positive effects on my mood and productivity.
Today at work I felt my legs buzzing after 11 hours of being sedentary. This is caused by electrical activity in the leg muscles shutting off, according to this worrying infographic.
A fellow blogger’s post gives tips on getting more exercise out of lazy habits such as watching TV. The shocking statistics in the infographic revealed that sitting for 8 or more hours a day makes you more than 40% likely to die within 15 years compared to someone that sits less than three. There was also an alarming article on the subject in today’s Metro, which reported that earlier this year a study found sitting just four hours a day increases risk of heart disease and cancer, and this bore no relation to the amount of exercise done around this time. I always take the stairs at work but most people take the lift. I have managed to persuade some colleagues to follow me and when they struggle I remind them of the benefits. I make herbal tea instead of drinking from a bottle. It requires me to get up regularly and go to the kitchen. But I need to do more.
I want to cycle into work. I also enjoy going for a run afterwards, but research shows that exercise has no impact on the statistics, it is the reduced time sitting that will. I feel so much better after a workout. When I come home and do nothing my body is so sluggish, weak and achy. That is how I feel today, as I have done such long shifts this week that I do not have time to anything when I come home.
A picture at my favourite gym, PureGym! I will join once the weather gets worse.
I try not to do cardio after 7, as studies have shown that exercising in the evening interferes with sleep due to the adrenaline, something I experienced lying awake with a pounding heart, 2 hours after returning from a 20 mile cycle.