At the start of lockdown back in March, I wrote a blog talking about my cycling journey describing how and why I had taken up cycling and how it had become a major part of my life. Therefore, it’s perhaps appropriate that I can now share my cycling experience during lockdown, including what has motivated me and the benefits I have reaped personally both physically and mentally.
I have been working from home from the beginning of lockdown, as has my husband. He set himself in the study which was his new office and I located myself at the back of my lounge/dining room in a rather dark corner.
During the early stages of lockdown, we were allowed out for approximately one hour each day for exercise and so I opted to ride my bicycle. My routine was simple. I would work every morning, have a spot of lunch and then would head out on my Cannondale road e-bike, starting out doing only between 7 and 10 miles.
I had been so used to cycling with other people, so it was totally strange for me to be out on my own and I felt very alone. Of course, there were days when I did not feel like going out at all as I was mentally struggling with lockdown, but once on my two-wheeled friend, my mood lightened and I felt so much better emotionally when back home.
On these solo rides, I noticed more in the way of wildlife and the plants that grow in our hedgerows and being from a farming family, I loved seeing the lambs thriving in the fields. This was certainly something that motivated me to go out on my bike. I know I’m extremely lucky to live in the area I do, with the Peeblesshire hills all around – thank goodness I have an e-bike!
In May, I only missed going out on my bike on one day. I remember the day before (it was a Friday), I had ridden 16 miles in 40 mph winds. It had been an experience to say the least; no one else had been mad enough to go out. However, on the Saturday, it was just as windy and extremely wet, so the bike had a well-earned rest.
Gradually I started to go further each day although I tended to try and stay within a ten-mile radius from the house, just in case of any mechanical problems. I realised I was clocking up a fair number of the miles. During one of our office Zoom chats, I mentioned that I had just covered 400 miles in the month. The response from a colleague was, “well then, there’s nothing stopping you getting to 500 miles. You’ve got five days left to do it in!” For those who don’t know me, those words were enough for me to take on the challenge.
I was delighted to reach the target of 500 miles for May on the 31st. Of course, I managed to achieve that total in June as well and again in July with two days to spare! A few days ago, I clocked up enough miles to reach 2000 miles since lockdown. I never dreamt I would be able to achieve that distance.
When lockdown restrictions allowed cyclists to cycle with one other, I arranged to go out with my cycling friends Claire and Melanie, on different days. It was only then I realised just how much I enjoyed cycling with other like-minded girls, if not just for the company but for the banter too. It was even more enjoyable when the three of us could cycle together, and head out on longer routes, stopping at our favourite cafes for a socially distance carry out coffee/tea.
Cycling not only clears your head after a busy morning in front of a laptop, but it got me out in the fresh air and for that much needed exercise. As I said before, I had several days that I just didn’t want to go out, but rather than sit in the house, I made myself go out. I intended to cycle around ten miles and come home, but once out my mood lifted and I usually ended up cycling further than planned. During the first 2.5 months of lockdown I lost a stone in weight. That alone motivated me to keep it up, although my weight has now plateaued.
I do not know what I would have done if I had not cycled during lockdown. The benefits I got from cycling either on the road, or up in the forest on my mountain bike on the fire roads was immense. Cycling made me feel more positive, helped me lose weight and kept my hips supple. With one hip replaced a few years ago, I want to delay having a second one done for as long as I can. While golf is another passion of mine, I can honestly say I preferred to keep cycling instead of going to golf when the course opened again - worrying I know!
I do think Covid-19 has changed many cyclists. Now, when passing, many say “hello” or acknowledge you, whereas before people just cycled past. It is really encouraging to see so many individuals, young and old taking up the sport and I do hope they continue to cycle in the future.