One of less widely acknowledged benefits of using your bike for transport is that however busy you get, you still end up getting in some exercise – indeed, in normal times, the busier you are, the more of a workout you will build into your day just to run errands or go to meetings.
And then along comes a virus and everyone is stuck indoors and while some of my cycling friends are enjoying the government injunction to go out and take exercise, and others are getting inventive with indoor cycling (and even skipping), I’m not spending anything like as much time on the bike as I would normally just fetching the paper.
I’m actually really enjoying our daily walks instead – even if they’ve been temporarily curtailed in one direction by some escaped bulls that took up residence in our local forest (we think they’ve been rounded up but they were quite good at disappearing into the shadows under the trees so it’s hard to be sure and we didn’t quite fancy suddenly encountering animals quite so big and with quite such pointy horns without a stout fence between us and them). But they’re not proving quite as much of a work out as I’m used to. I could go out more on the bike, but I have got very busy in the last few days and when you need to get a lot of exercise in a short period of time there’s really only one option – going for a run.
So that’s why I found myself at some silly hour of the morning, heading down the hill on my bike to a quieter back road where I could get a bit of an aerobic workout. Unfortunately the bike – perhaps sensing a rival form of exercise in my affections – had other ideas. Half way down the road and the flat front tyre had become unignorable.
I briefly considered doing my run from there – but even with the lighter traffic of lockdown, our local B road is not that inviting on foot without even a comfortable verge, let alone a pavement. Just wheeling the bike back up the hill didn’t feel all that comfortable, although it did give me a chance to pick up lots of squashed cans I’ve not managed to stop for in the past – and entertain the neighbours as well.
Once home, all dressed up with nowhere to run (unless I fancied my chances with the wild beasts of the forest) I considered just heading back to bed, but that seemed a little feeble. The only other place to go was up our neighbours’ drive (if you can call a private road half a mile long a drive). Which happens to go straight up hill for the first half. I wonder how many times I can run up the hill and back down again, I asked myself, which only goes to show that this lockdown has gone on far too long.
Anyway the answer – surprisingly to me – was ‘at least four’ – with the downhill parts proving harder on the legs than the uphill. It’s reassuring I suppose that a few weeks of less frantic gadding about haven’t really put much of a dent in my fitness.
So now, on top of everything else, I will have to sort out that puncture and find another morning to head out for my original planned (and rather gentler) run. And hope that by the time the lockdown ends I’m not the sort of person who does hill repeats for fun…