I’ve never really been much of a hobby’s person. I mean, I’ve had periods of going to the gym. Hillwalking. Arts and crafts. That type of thing. But never really a hobby and never something I’ve stuck with. To be brutally honest, I’ve always considered socialising a hobby. I did it a lot. Nurtured it. Evenings out. Weekends away. Saturday lunches. Me and my girls had a hectic time together.
But then it became clear to me, I needed something else. You may have read some of my alcohol-free journey posts; in which case you will recognise this as the likely catalyst. The subsequent COVID-19 socialising ban has further cemented this sentiment.
I needed to stretch myself. I needed to get a better understanding of what I was capable of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I expect to win any medals. Or break any world records (or even local ones). But I think I’ve always had the potential of being relatively fit and strong. Partly due to my physiology and partly because I’ve always taken an interest in sport and fitness. I care. I’m 48, so there are certainly limits, but what can these legs produce and for how long? How about the old ticker, still capable of beating calmly under pressure? And very importantly how will my head cope with it all?
When I first set out on my cycling journey, I started with a 10km return journey (total 20km) along a very flat old railway line. A ‘way too big for me second hand’ bike, a pair of ‘hand me down, gents’ padded shorts with no bib, gloves with irritating fingers, which following ride no 1, I cut off. Humble beginnings to say the least.
There is no doubt the entire ensemble left a lot to be desired. But you know what? I did not care. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was dipping my toe in the water of a potential ‘hobby’. I had the wind in my hair, at least those protruding from my (yes, you guessed it, second hand) helmet, fresh air in my lungs and Scottish scenery to die for. I was out there trying it. Not talking about it. Not thinking about it. Just doing it.
None of this is long ago; I am not a seasoned cyclist by any stretch. I got my first new bike in August 2019, so you get a rough timeline. Since then, I have invested in some long and short bib shorts which are wonderfully comfortable, some fluorescent, jazzy outerwear and a helmet which lights up like a Christmas tree. Oh yes, and a small emergency puncture and basic mechanic kit, two water bottles and a small treat bag. I’m a little more equipped than when I first started.
I’ve subsequently cycled thousands of kilometres, few of them fast, climbed some tremendous hills, many of which I would never have dreamt I’d be capable of completing. I’ve talked to myself. I’ve laughed at myself. I’ve even cried. But I’ve kept turning those pedals, kept getting stronger and continued to enjoy doing so.
I think I can officially say, cycling is my hobby.
Sometimes I feel like a tiny bit of a fraud because I haven’t had the same time in the saddle as other more seasoned cyclists. But then I remind myself everyone was once a beginner. I am entitled to feel excited as spring approaches. I am entitled to feel motivated as I plan my first ride outside. I am entitled to enjoy it. Whether I’m a 48-year-old novice or not. It’s all valid. Maybe sounds naff, but it is never too late to be the very best version of me I can be.
Have a great day!