Q Since the lock-down started to ease, I've got back on my bike, but all the roads I used to know have become hills and my saddle has turned to concrete!

What's happened?

As we were all asked to stay at home and to exercise locally, so for many of us we cycled less. At the same time we had Winter as usual. So, we may have become slightly less fit and more inclined to excuse ourselves from getting the bike out. “It's raining”, “too cold”, “Just don't feel like it today”, and so on.

The more we stayed in, the more we lost the fitness we had built up, so when we got out on the bike again it felt like hard work, and next time we thought to get the bike out we remembered that, and if the sky was overcast, or we'd overslept we found anther reason to stay in our homes – after all, it's what we were asked to do.

So, staying in leads to losing fitness, which leads to exercise feeling less pleasant, which in turn leads back to staying in again.

This is called a Vicious Cycle where one negative thing leads back to another and back round the loop – worse and worse.

The side effect for cycle riders is that our seat muscles lose strength, so we start to feel the saddle and every bump in the road which we had got used to , so the saddle starts to feel hard. Vicious indeed!

Now that the weather is starting to warm up we will all be tempted to give cycling another go. We will remember the nice places we used to visit on our bikes. The tea shops will be open again and using calories to get there means that we will have earned a cake as well. A short ride isn't as bad as we remembered from the Winter, and our friends will be suggesting nice rides or meet-ups, and more shops will be open so we'll ride again.

As we ride our legs will start to toughen up and it will feel easier to ride up those gentle slopes that felt like hills a few months ago.

Our seat muscles will become bouncier again and it will.

l start to feel that the saddle has become softer until we forget that it is there.

Because cycling has become pleasant again we will go out more and as we get fitter again will resume slightly longer rides.

So, getting fitter leads to going out more, which leads to feeling happier on the bike and leads to getting fitter again.

This is the opposite sort of loop going round and round, getting better all the time and is called a Virtuous Circle.

Mike Skiffins, Portsmouth CTC http://www.portsmouthctc.org.uk
Posted on Fri, 30/07/2021 - 10:32