So you’ve decided to take the plunge and go back on to two-wheels. Congratulations. But before you race out to the local bike shop and pick out a brand spanking new machine, it is, sadly, necessary to sound a note of caution, especially if your entire adult life has been spent behind the wheel of a car: are you fit enough to get back in the saddle?
Sadly, in many cases the answer is a resounding “no”. Even so, too many people prefer not to listen and go too far, too fast, too soon, and end up either nursing a nasty injury, or wheeling their bike the final mile home because they got more than a little hot under the collar attempting to negotiate one of the local hill climbs.
Man and Machine
Think about how man and machine are going to move in perfect harmony. You’re going to need heart, lungs, arms and legs. So first things, first: get them moving again.
Start your regime by taking regular exercise, initially in the form of walks that involve a number of hill climbs and graduating on to jogging.
Not only will you gradually shake your body out of the comfort zone that it has been occupying for too many years but you will also become accustomed again to negotiating the great outdoors without the comfort of having a car window between yourself and the locals.
This last point may sound rather flippant, but whether it be jogging or cycling, many people, especially those self-conscious about their weight or fitness, become so used to the relative invisibility that a car affords that they find it rather disconcerting coming into close proximity with fellow “pedestrians”.
The mental block aside, the gentle fitness regime will mean that after, say, one month, your body will be ready for the demands put on it when you start riding. Again, don’t be too ambitious.
You may be up to speed in terms of the bike’s anatomy and how to control it, but your body needs to be comfortable with the demands made upon it in terms of speed and endurance.
Remember that injuries that are the result of neglecting stretching exercises or over ambition, such as a pulled hamstring, may leave your new bike gathering dust for several weeks.
Seeking a Consultation
If you are in any way concerned about your fitness, or simply want to be reassured about the merits of your newfound pursuit, make an appointment with your GP, who will be able to check your blood pressure and advise on the best way forward.
Don’t be embarrassed about seeking a consultation, and certainly don’t think that he or she will think you are wasting their time.
Medical practitioners are eager to promote prevention rather than cure, and maintaining a good level of exercise has a great many benefits.
Once you are on the move, you will be surprised at how quickly your body builds up strength and stamina.
No-one is suggesting that you have to aim for Olympian levels of fitness; simply that the fitter you are, the more you will use your bike and the greater your enjoyment will be. In short, you will have created a winning combination.