I suppose I'm no different from anyone else, in that I have to prioritise what I do all the time. I have my cycling for weight loss, I have work, I have my rugby coaching (which is busier in the off-season with planning, meetings, conferences and courses), I have my family and I have to try to get some down time in too.
The upshot of all of this is that I can't do any of the above as much as I'd like (apart from work, unfortunately).
Things that are taking a back seat for my pedalling are fishing, shooting and hill walking. I know there's nothing as boring as hobbies, so I won't mention them again! But you get my point.
I have two children: a daughter aged 13 and a son who's three. My daughter is an absolute angel and no problem at all. My son is er, how shall I put it? Very different, very labour intensive and very high maintenance. He's one of the reasons I can't do as much as I'd like, since it wouldn't be fair to leave wifey with him all the time. And if I did, there'd soon be blood on the carpet. I'm not sure if it'd be Dan's or mine, but there would definitely be blood!
It's for the reasons above that I also can't do as much mountain biking as I'd like. There just aren't enough hours in the day, or days in the week. I can justify my commute for obvious reasons, but it's much harder to excuse my weekend excursions, which is why there are so few of them. I could, in all fairness, probably get away with getting up at stupid o'clock like I do for work, but sometimes even my normal predilection for the first part of the day gets overshadowed by the call of the duvet.
I guess I'm not alone in any of this, but reading some other blogs, there seem to be folks who are able to pedal in every spare minute and they have families too. I just don't know how they do that. Maybe I'm not as organised, or maybe they just say, “Sod it, I'm off,” and damn the consequences. I know if I did, there would be consequences!
So, I can't pedal as much as I would like, but the forced upside is that I get time off the bike to rest. When you're as old, fat and broken as me, that's no bad thing. I don't want to sound like a galloping hypochondriac, but at this point it might be an idea to list my injuries and ailments just so you have some idea what a physical battle every pedal rotation is and the importance of rest for me.
Let's start from the ground and work up. For starters, my feet have been broken more times than I can remember. I have two damaged Achilles tendons.
My knees are permanently painful due to damaged ligaments and cartilages a result of being in the Army and playing rugby. I have sciatica. My right shoulder has a metal pin holding it together, and my left shoulder partially dislocates occasionally. My neck has limited movement due to injury. I have nerve damage in my left arm causing numbness. Add on the illnesses due to being fat, having high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and asthma, and you get some idea of how knackered I am. But hey ho, I crack on.
June is a big month for me, though. Despite what I've written above, I'm making a massive effort to pedal a lot more (with wife’s blessing), because there are a few challenges and landmarks for me to reach.
As of 30 June, I will have been doing this cycling for weight loss thing exactly a year, which is the landmark. I would love to have cracked the 5st lost mark. I'm currently at a static 4st 2lb lost at 18st 2Ib. That's challenge one.
Thinking back a year, the stuff I'm doing now and have planned for the future wouldn’t have even been on my bike radar (geddit?). Even if I don't achieve my goals in June, my progress has been totally amazing for me. I didn't for one moment think that I would be pedalling 20-30 miles a day while commuting, or being able to pedal up the bridleway to the top of
So if ever you doubt what's possible, remember the old, broken, fat Brummie who's getting his life back because of the bike. And I'm not the only one either.