…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
The month of September saw me cycle over 900 miles, more than I’d done in a month before, and then in October I opted to take it easy, yet I still covered 500-or-so miles (I don’t really know how!) Then November arrived, along with autumn, and wind (50mph+)… and rain… days and days of rain…
I ended up having a few days off from cycling, I didn’t feel so good. Then when I finally got out on my bike I felt great – this post is about my thoughts, worries about others, and the transition I experienced.
On Thursday of last week I ended up using my car (thankfully it started, something it refused to do the day before when I tried). I ended up visiting clients all day, carting a stack of laptops about, and doing my bulk grocery shopping (just to make the trip more worthwhile) – a round trip of some 50 miles, and not arriving home until well after dark. I couldn’t have achieved all that on my bike – I would have had to spread the work and load over a couple of days or more – but visiting clients in such weather as we’ve had, by bike, doesn’t make for an attractive arrival, and no matter how many layers of plastic I wrap their laptops in my clients will still look on me with eyes of horror (I try and give them words of reassurance but I end up sounding like I’m deluding myself!)
Today though, I finally got out on my bike again. It’s the 10th of November and it was only my third trip out – I could have covered 300 miles by this day already… but I’ve only now reached 60 miles (the number of miles for this month look pretty bleak already!) My last trip out was last Friday, and I ‘only’ did 12 miles. After ‘only’ a couple of days of seclusion I wasn’t feeling so good. I had found myself breathless, feeling stressed, lacking appetite, and increasingly sensitive to sugary snacks (which I was trying to avoid binging on but the lack of appeal for proper meals didn’t help).
I find it interesting how such things are intertwined. When I cycle a lot I do my best to ensure I consume enough calories – my bike’s computer gives me an idea of how many I have burned. When I last cycled 80 miles it informed me I had burned 2000 calories and I worried “How am I going to eat all that?” – that makes for a 4.5k recommended calorie intake for an adult male. The key is to scoff your way through as much as you can within the first half hour after such exercise – I guess while your body is still in that frame-of-mind – you can’t faff around in the kitchen for an hour or wait for a slow meal to arrive at a restaurant. When there are high-mile days like these it is certain there will be a shortfall in the calorie count, so I try and make up for it the next day, and that next day isn’t so bad – I’m usually still on a high from what I achieved the day before… but as the days pass and I’m giving myself some rest, my appetite begins to drop in line with my metabolism – my body automatically adjusts based on what food it knows or thinks it needs. Another problem here is that you can’t suddenly go from doing low miles or no miles for days on end to going out on the bike all day without having fuelled your body up ready, well you might be able to but generally this infliction make it more exhausting and leads to a longer recovery.
It’s quite remarkable I think, and I’m fortunate that my weight stays pretty constant throughout what I put it through (not that I weigh myself each day, but whenever I do it’s around the same) – for me my body stays on a low BMI (a little too low for my liking, but it seems stuck there), for others it might be on a higher BMI, and some people seem to constantly struggle with seemingly gaining weight unless they take conscious action. I have to consciously eat enough otherwise I feel like I’m withering away – a sign that this isn’t perhaps simply a worry is that I feel my gums start to recede behind my bottom front teeth – scary huh?
Returning to the point about how I feel with not enough exercise, it makes me wonder how people who do no exercise cope. I worry about friends and family who seem to do little and try, with gentle suggestions, to get them to take on some form of exercise. After a couple of days of doing nothing physically active I start to feel unwell; I feel uptight inside which is similar to times when I’ve felt stressed – at the worst times when stressed I get pains in my back and shoulders and this can bring about asthma-like feelings (I had asthma during my school years). There is also depression. As metabolism drops, if there is little to keep one mentally active and enthusiastic indoors then mood declines, I think this is inevitable – we’re not designed to live like this. It worries me that people who do no exercise live this way, but their mindset must make them just feel like that’s normal – there is no perspective. It worries me that I may be laid up in bed for a week or more at sometime in my life, how will I cope then? How will I cope when I’m an old man and no longer able to get out in rough weather? It’s a long way off I know, but still.
When I went out today on my 30 mile cycle, heading off into 40mph gusts, I felt great. I knew a trip out on my bike was much needed (I needed it days ago) and when the weather forecast showed only grey clouds rather than another full day of heavy rain, I knew there would be no car driving today. I can breathe easy again now – having had good lungfuls of fresh air. Seeing the wider world was a blessing too – sheeps and ducks, horses and mushrooms (and wind turbines).
Russula ochroleuca, perhaps? I didn’t pick it.