You’ve probably guessed from my lack of blog posts that I’m not doing very well at this… I have plenty of excuses – work, wedding, sheer laziness – but am aware that I need to up my game if I have even a tiny chance of getting to Paris without the help of the Eurostar. So last Sunday I went on my first official bike ride.
I haven’t had my own bike since 1987 (a pink and lilac number if you’re asking) so this time I relied on the kindness of Boris and his bike scheme for my Sunday outing. There is no denying that the scheme is brilliant – there are now over 6000 bikes dotted around the city – and at just £1 to hire for an hour a whole lot cheaper than a tube pass, but this bike is not a friend to the beginner. It’s so heavy I struggled to get it out of the stand and I even found it a struggle pedalling downhill. By the time I reached London Bridge from my house in Islington I felt like I’d run a marathon. My boyfriend, who had come along for the ride, said to me: “I didn’t realise someone of our age could actually be that unfit.”
My dad called me last night. He never calls me. The reason for this shift in behaviour is that he is, I quote, “worried” about me. He feels that cycling 500km over 3 days is rather a stretch for a girl who has never regularly exercised in her life. Unfortunately for him it has just made me more determined to actually see this through – sorry dad.
He may have a point though as the most I have done so far in preparation for the biggest physical challenge of my life is a few long walks and an old yoga DVD. But I’ve been assured by the lovely people at HotChillee, who organise the London to Paris cycle, that the cycling community is a friendly and encouraging one, and that it really is an achievable goal. (You can read more about the route I’ll be cycling and the general itinerary here http://www.londres-paris.com/site/html/home/index.php)
And my lethargy changes as of tomorrow as I have my first spinning class of the year (read:ever). I also have the rather brilliant Proform Tour de France indoor cycle (www.proform.com) being delivered to my house. This exercise bike is pre-programmed with real cycle routes, including the route I’ll be taking to Paris, and has clever Real Road resistance technology meaning I can get a feel for what it will be like without having to resort to the scary reality of an actual road. I’m not sure this cycling novice is ready to dodge potholes, red lights and terrible London drivers just yet.
Read back over the next few days to see whether I managed more than ten minutes of my spinning class and gain expert tips on the best road bike for beginners.
It was a mini break to New York in November when I realised it was probably time I started exercising. Despite starting each day with pancakes and bacon (good God they were good), I walked so much each day (amazing how many miles I'll walk to get to APC but wouldn't dream of running 30 seconds for a bus) that by the time I got home my colleagues asked if I'd lost weight. And I hadn't felt as energetic or healthy in a long time.
But fitting exercise into your life is all well and good when your daily activities consist of little more than shopping and eating. It's a whole lot more difficult when you work long hours and have an actual diagnosed* addiction to the snooze button. But with my wedding eight months away and my 30th birthday looming it feels like it's time to give my body some TLC, and it would be nice to actually feel proud of my physical abilities after a childhood of using my asthma as an excuse to get out of every games lesson.
So I've decided, rather bravely I think, to commit to cycling the London to Paris race next June. That's 500km. Some of it uphill. I do like a challenge, even if it's not usually a sporting one.
My fiancé works as a chiropractor for a professional cycling team so I'm hoping to bleed him dry for tips and I'm also getting some help from the team at Cycling Weekly - the biggest cycling magazine in the country - who will help set me training programmes and advise on the best equipment and diet to help me achieve my goal. Well, if I'm going to commit to such a ridiculous thing then I might as well call in the experts!
*I lie, obviously