Back on the bike

It only took me five-and-a-bit months, but I finally clambered back on the bike today and trundled off to work under my own steam. Boy, it was hard work. My legs felt very strong and powerful, but my heart and lungs are a little out of condition, and I really huffed and puffed as I struggled up the Broad Walk this morning!

I don't think it helped that I had over-dressed. It might be late November but the temperatures are rather mild at the moment and the heavy fleece I was wearing under my windproof jacket was just too warm for the conditions. Tomorrow I'll swap it for a long-sleeved t-shirt, I think.

Of course, no one ever forgets how to ride a bike, even after such a long absence, but I did find my reactions a little rusty. I just wasn't reading the traffic far enough ahead, so got caught out at a couple of tricky junctions. Instead of sailing into the flow of traffic with ease and confidence, I'd stop and wait for a proper break before I braved the mêlée. I assume this will get better in line with my fitness.

If it wasn't enough that I had to grapple with the whole shebang of being back on the bike, I also found myself becoming increasingly distracted by changes along my route. London's a big city in constant flux, but you don't realise how quickly things change unless you've had a period of absence. Some of the things I noticed this morning included:

Buildings that have been shrouded in scaffolding for months and months, are now free from their shackles and standing newly exposed. There's even a couple of new buildings I've never seen before, including some massive round-looking thing on the southern exit of Westminster Bridge.

There are new traffic islands on Parliament Square, which means you can no longer sneakily slip into the lane heading towards Westminster Bridge, you have to "take" the whole lane or risk breaking a pedal (and an ankle or a foot?) on the concrete "blocks".

There's a lovely wide strip of tarmac (that looks a bit like a three-lane highway — it's massive) that goes through Wellington Arch, for cyclists to use, which helps to alleviate the conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists in this area (now, if they'll only sort out the traffic lights at both ends!).

The horrendous roadworks behind Festival Hall have now gone (hooray!!) only to move further down the line, near the London Aquarium. 

I'm sure there's loads of other stuff I took in, I just can't recall it now.

I suspect I will sleep well tonight, from exhaustion, and wake up tomorrow with sore legs and tummy muscles. But despite that, it will have been worth it, because it's so much more interesting when you cycle to work by bike!

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9 thoughts on “Back on the bike

  1. Great to hear from you again!
    Yes, very mild for the time of year. I’ve been arriving at work with just one layer remaining.
    Very impressed you managed to type “mêlée” 😉

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  2. Thats a cute post. I had recently got on my bike after a year n it was indeed a little rusty initially. But they say that cycling and swimming are the best excercises today. I did enjoy the ride and I felt the same stronger legs and relaxed after the ride.

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  3. Great to hear from you – I’ve started a cycling blog since you “went away” and wasn’t sure if you’d be coming back – but you are, fantastic. The “slightly slower reactions” is something I recognise, even after a couple of weeks out of the saddle. I definitely have to take things a bit slower, even if it wasn’t for the unfitness which means you pretty much have to anyway. Anyway, welcome back and looking forward to your updates.

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  4. Thanks for all your supportive comments. I didn’t mention it in this post, but on my ride home my upper right side, including both shoulders, siezed up, and I’ve been very stiff and arthritic ever since. I’ve upped my medication, which has helped slightly, and done a little bit of pilates to try and loosen things up, but there’s no way known I could ride a bike comfortably in my current state. I am hoping this is only temporary… and I can cycle again very soon.

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  5. I’m pleased I located this web page, I couldnt get any knowledge on this subject before. I also manage a website and if you want to ever interested in doing some guest writing for me if possible feel free to let me know, im always look for people to check out my web site. Please stop by and leave a comment sometime!
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  6. Wow your blog brought back many memories of cycling through London back in the early 1990’s – the near misses and the seeing the sights on 2 wheels! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. It’s amazing how quickly our fitness starts to decline when we’ve been inactive for a while. Getting back on the bike after a layoff shows how hard cycling can be. For us cyclists we just jump on our bikes and go not appreciating how much energy and strength we are using. We’re at a fitnes level that’s high and we don’t realise it.

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