… Has A Silver Lining.
Like most of us, I get a bit negative sometimes. The weekend weather was crappy so I didn’t get out on my bike, so I spent a little time contemplating my navel. I realised that sometimes, despite the imperfections of life, we need to count our blessings. So here’s my little compare & contrast exercise for my cycling experiences over the last few months.
Since increasing the miles on the bike, my diabetic control has been a little haywire. I’ve been experiencing more frequent hypoglycaemic episodes, especially at bedtime. They’re not too bad and I’m coping with them easily, but I don’t really want to be chugging chocolate at bedtime – I mean, I’m not a girl for goodness’ sake!
I’ve reduced my teatime insulin by a couple of units so I’ll see how that works out – early signs are good. Let’s be sensible about this, it’s actually a sign that my body is using its energy more efficiently and, well, just more. It’s not all bad as long as I’m grown up about my drug dosages.
My lower back has become worse over recent weeks. I don’t suffer badly with backache but each time I ride out, I come back with a twinge. I’m not happy about it.
Some reading around the subject tells me that it’s because I upped my saddle a cm or so, to get more power out of my legs and take some strain off my ageing knees. This definitely increased the power, but (apparently) your hamstrings shorten when your saddle’s low. Then when you raise your saddle, the hamstrings pull on your pelvis as you ride, causing the twinge. So now I have to do hamstring stretches to improve things. Every day’s a school day at Phill’s Irregular Cycles!
Ow. Thud. Ouch. Boing. Scratch. Oof. Ping. Unh. This, with exclamation marks removed, is the sound of my riding. No big drops, no RTAs, no expensive collisions – just me having lots of minor bangs and knocks. If I were a pretty girl, the state of my shins and calves would be alarming.
Thankfully, I’m an ugly bloke so none of the scabs, bruises and chain marks matter.
OK, I’ve got that off my chest. Now, this is what this post is really about. Whenever I get a litte bot fed up with riding, THIS is what I remind myself about.
Fitness. I’m fitter now, at 40, than I was at 30. I’m much much fitter than I was at 20, before I was diagnosed with diabetes. My body’s reaction to it’s own pancreas had left me a withered, weedy, muscle-free weakling so I pretty much had to start again. It’s been a long road but I now have calf muscles and my legs are really taking shape. I’m building some body mass apart from the pot belly that contented living has earned me. I can cycle further than ever before and the feeling of finishing the Manchester to Blackpool 63 miles then not being at all bothered at having to ride an extra mile to put £3.50 on the parking meter was priceless. 10 years ago, that ride put me out of action for over a week.
Fun. I really enjoy my cycling. Somebody told me recently that the way to pick your sport is to ask yourself when you’ve finished something: “How soon do I want to do that again?” If the answer is “Now!” or “Tomorrow“, than you’ve found your sport. If the answer is “Next week” or “That was a flippin’ chore“, then you need to have a re-think! When I was running, I had to keep a chart to force myself to train regularly. With cycling, I’m already looking forward to my next ride as I’m washing the Fat Boy down and putting him away.
Friends. This virtual online internetty community of cyclists has been a bit of a revelation to me. My blog has morphed from a random collection of my normal thoughts into a pretty cycling-centric affair, and the people who share it with me (that’s you lot) are a strong source of motivation and advice. Out there in the real world of actual real stuff, the smiles from other cyclists, walkers, dog-poo-bag carriers and even fishermen are a regular reminder that the Daily Mail world of muggers, Tennents-drinking hoodies and rapists isn’t always around the next corner. The world is mostly quite a nice place, with just a few idiots here and there. Mostly we know where “here” and “there” are, so we can try avoid those places.
Finking Time. One of the greatest benefits of my Tuesday-night autopilot loop is the hour or so I get to be with myself. Putting things into perspective; thinking through issues at work and at home; planning life from the saddle. It’s a great state to be in, whizzing along the canalside without any distraction more worrying than someobody occasionally coming the other way to share a nod and a grin. you just don’t get that kind of thinking time at home or at work.
There are more Silver Linings, but I’m in serious danger of putting you to sleep. Suffice to say that, over the last few months, I’ve been enjoying my cycling more and more. As my body has improved, the one challenge of managing my more efficient use of insulin has been outweighed by the better strength and stamina I’m able to draw on.
In turn, these have allowed me to enjoy the travelling, the views and the surroundings more. I’m proud of my little photo album of stuff I see when out on the bike. Some of the pictures will mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to me. Have a look, tell me what you think.