Getting started – again

Eddie riding to work and waving at the camera

The long road back: people returning from injury and those just starting in cycling share many challenges. Photo: Andrew Perryman

The is no gain without the pain.
Life was not meant to be easy.  Malcolm Fraser

Many would know the old adage of the pessimist and optimist. Their thinking of the half empty glass to the half full or are they half way through the forest of halfway out of the forest. They are both the same measures, in each case it’s all a matter of perspective and mindset.

Having been off the bike for many months and just starting out again I can readily identify with what a daunting task it may well be for someone just making the decision to start riding for the first time and how they can be in awe of others out there on the road making it all look easy.

Be assured that similar thoughts have gone through my mind, was it all a dream and was I out there amongst the bunch’s sharing the road with some of the most talented and skilled cyclists in community! Have the newer riders the advantage of not knowing what lies ahead and continue regardless or could they pull out on the verge when they are halfway through the pain of starting off and not realise how close to breaking through they are.

In most aspects of life there is a honeymoon period when all seems to be going along really well and then we plateau out and come face to face with reality that what we love doing can at times hurt. We all will face the choice to persevere, commit to the task at hand albeit with a reduced enthusiasm but remain strongly resolved to hang in there. Wisdom tells us that these plateaus are actually times of strengthening and growth even though we have a tendency to think we are not making progress and at times even think we are going backwards.

For someone who has been in regular exercise and then has a break the big challenge is being able to recognise and accept that we just can’t get back to where we left off and need to re-establish a base or foundation again to work from. For new riders starting out there is great value in recording the progress and milestones of achievement for when the times of blues come you can reflect back and go “wow” what progress has been made. The rider starting back it is equal value to keep track of progress to remain patience and not get despondent over the time being taken for recovery.

Some of the big advantages getting back into exercise is having all the right kit available such as the comfortable cycling knicks and gloves and cycling shoes with a really stiff sole and a seat that I know can be comfortable after getting the sit bones and calluses’ to become accustomed again. I have also the testimony of what a really good helmet is really worth after a fall. These are aspects that a beginner has to find out through trial and error or seek out people of experience that can shorten the route to finding comfort on the bike.

Ignorance can be bliss, but when it comes to comfort and risk of damage to the body it is best to be as well informed as possible and not persevere thinking “I need to just get over it!” Come to recognise what is hurting from getting fit and what is hurting and painful from poor posture and techniques combined with bike set up. Making sure of hydration has been another critical part of getting back into cycling before during and after cycling. Food intake regulation is for some another course trial and error.

If cycling for weight loss, going out and hurting yourself by pushing big gears and working the legs hard will not necessarily produce the desired result. In getting back into fitness the focus has been working on the breathing and legs speed by spinning smaller gears and consistently as possible and sustaining the breathing control. Speed is not an issue compared to getting the techniques back in sequence and quality time in the saddle re-conditioning the parts of contact (hands feet and bottom).

If you are new to the cycling scene and see me on the road give me a big wave and be assured that if you are hurting there is a fair chance I will be too! Regardless where we think we are on the scale of fitness hurting and breaking through will remain a challenge and a bridge we all cross and recross again.

See you on the road soon God willing.


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