On Sunday I got back on my bike for the first time since last September. According to my Garmin, my last cycle was 15 September 2015 when I cycled home from work. Little did I know that when I put my bike back in the “shed” that evening it wouldn’t be used again for nine months!
I stopped cycling because I was unwell: I went to Australia for a few weeks in October and when I returned what I thought was a really bad case of jet lag turned out to be something else. I was constantly light-headed and felt on the verge of fainting 24/7. I also had heart palpitations and felt discombobulated and “foggy” most of the time. It was so bad in the morning that I changed my hours at work so that I could get a seat on the tube. It was horrible.
My GP ran a series of blood tests and the results showed I had a severe vitamin D deficiency (I was “bone deficient” — vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium). I was prescribed a three-month course of mega-high dose of Vitamin D3, but it took at least six weeks before I felt “normal” again.
By that time it was early January — and the middle of winter. My job was also up in the air and I lacked motivation to get the bike out again.
Fast forward five months and I finally found a reason to start cycling again: RideLondon Surrey46. This is a new event — a 46 mile round trip from London to Surrey — being run as part of the Prudential RideLondon cycling festival at the end of July. When I was offered a free place by Skoda in exchange for blogging about my experience I figured it was a brilliant opportunity to kick-start my cycling after such a long hiatus.
With just six weeks to go until the big event, I got my hybrid out of storage on Sunday and plotted a route to my new job (I left my old one in Southwark at Easter and now work in Wimbledon). It wasn’t easy. The cycling itself was fine — I’m relatively fit given I walk a minimum of five miles a day — but my sense of direction is crap, and I kept taking wrong turns or missing turns so that it felt like I spent as much time at the side of the road checking Google maps as I did on the saddle turning the pedals!
And doing it on a sunny Sunday afternoon probably wasn’t the best timing. The traffic was bumper to bumper on the busy A roads and because parking restrictions are relaxed on Sundays, there were cars parked on the (few) cycle lanes along my route. What should have taken me about 40 minutes took me an hour.
The route back was slightly quicker because I now knew where I was going, but I have to say it wasn’t exactly pleasant. Cycling in the suburbs of south-west London isn’t quite as cycle friendly (and enjoyable) as heading from west London into central London. At least a third of my old commute was through parkland; my new commute (which is roughly the same distance) is through narrow suburban streets. It’s going to take a little while to get used to…
But still, I’m pleased I’ve taken the plunge. Now to get back into the habit of doing it regularly. I’ve got to get myself in shape quite quickly if I’m going to successfully tackle 46 miles on 31 July.
Total distance: 16.7miles | Ride time: 1hr 54min | Average speed: 8.7mph