Too unfit to cycle…

Too unfit to cycle…

I’ll be honest, I wish more people would cycle and that one day it would be the choice of transport for all of those short trips across town. Wanting to encourage, and actually encouraging people to take the bike instead of the car are two very different things…

You see as a cyclist we can understand just how easy, quick, efficient and fun the bicycle is, but to a yet-to-be-bike-user, the thought can summon up a whole range of excuses.

Yesterday I covered the excuse that cycling is expensive. Today I want to look at the cop-out of being too unfit to cycle.

Obese, out of breath with a sore bum!

I started cycling ‘full-time’ as Richard the Cycling Gardener back in October. I started out at around 115kg which for me was obese. My life as a born again cyclist didn’t start there though. It was a good few months earlier.

We live on a boat and we love to cruise. I had a thought earlier in 2019 that if I was within ‘cycling distance’ of where I used to store my van for work, that we could move about on the boat a bit and enjoy the waterways even more.

But I had a problem. I was very unfit. I was at this time 120kg, struggled with long-term tiredness due to an autoimmune disease, had painful arthritis in my knees and left hip and had a bum that was not happy with even a few minutes at a time in the saddle.

In fact, I remember borrowing a bike to make a short journey from just north of Kidlington into Oxford a couple of years back and having to stop off for crisps and a sandwich at two separate shops to consol my agonies during the journey. Back then it took me nearly one and a half hours. Today I can do the same journey happily in around 20 minutes.

What changed for me?

Out with the Dawes on a bike ride. We went from Oxford to Princes Risborough and back the day this was taken.

The yearning to travel on the boat for me was too great. I love cruising down into Oxford and staying for a couple of weeks and although we had done it a few times before and parked the car in a side street overnight, it was always a hassle. So I bought a bike.

The bike I got was from off Facebook Marketplace for 50 quid. It was a Dawes Diplomat and was just what I was looking for. Part of the reason that the test ride from Kidlington to Oxford was so difficult for me was that the borrowed bike was way too small, but this new bike was just right – it fitted like a glove.

My fitness improved

We took the bike down into Oxford on the boat and for two weeks I cycled every morning the 7 miles from where we moored the boat back to the van and returning home to the boat again in the evening. 14 miles a day! Blimey, my bum was sore!

Over those two weeks, I lost a little weight, but the major improvement by the end was that cycling didn’t make me out of breath any longer and instead of 1.5 hours it was only taking me 40 minutes. I had got quicker and the best bit was that my bum got used to it and didn’t ache for hours after each ride anymore.

I was getting fitter!

This went on and I cycled more and more regular and ended up losing 5kg and weighing in at 115kg – still obese, but going in the right direction.

The more I cycled the fitter I got

With my work bike

In October 2019 was when I decided to ditch the van and get a cargo bike for work. This is when it all changed for me.

Not only was I cycling each and every day, but as I saw and felt my body changing for the better, I also wanted to eat healthier to assist my newly created wellness.

Some 5 months later, I now weigh 100kg – a loss off 20kg since I started cycling. I don’t feel my arthritis any longer – in fact I have been able to take up jogging too.

I also feel less tired all the time and love every opportunity I have to get in the saddle and go for a ride. Just in these last couple of weeks, I have ridden with my son over to Banbury and Bicester. He’s also been bitten by the cycling bug which is fantastic as we can now enjoy bike rides together.

Have a chat with your doctor

If you’re worried about not being able to cycle due to a lack of fitness, then why not go and have a chat with your doctor and see what they suggest?

Getting in the saddle was one of the best things in life that I have done. It’s life-changing and life-saving. You won’t regret it!

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Thanks for reading. Until next time…


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Allan Jenkins

    Like you Richard, I was approximately 94kg (but I am short). Started cycling 3 years ago now down to 76kg and able to cycle reasonable distances and enjoy it. Can not yet give up my vehicle, to much to carry, but I am getting there. Fittest I have been for years. Farmers lung is not holding me back ( but you can hear me coming)

    1. Richard

      Wow Allan, that’s a great achievement! Well done for getting in the saddle and sticking with it.

      What types of rides do you do? Commute, leisure or a bit of both?

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