Niteen rediscovers the joy of cycling

When my GP advised me to stop cycling because it exacerbated the ongoing problem with both my knees, I thought my cycling days were over. Coming soon after a spinal infection that damaged one of my vertebrae, this was particularly disheartening.

Over the next few years the knees got progressively worse so that I could barely climb a flight of stairs. Finally, with the joint efforts of good physiotherapist and a brilliant chiropractor the knees improved. Although I could once again walk long distances and climb hills I wasn’t confident enough to cycle the steep terrain of Brighton where I lived.

On a holiday in Myanmar, I hired an ebike and really enjoyed the freedom to explore the countryside. When I retired to York I felt it was time to get back to cycling. I looked around for a good second hand bike and luckily found an excellent German ebike; Bergamont. It was an ideal option to someone prone to knee problems. I then discovered York Bike Belles, (a group of dedicated cyclists/ high priestesses of the cycling community) who help people build cycling confidence and share their enjoyment of cycling. I was delighted to learn that despite the name they include men too. I attended a bike maintenance workshop they arranged and found it very helpful.  

Impressed with their offer of supporting new and returning cyclists, I joined them on a cycling trip to Askham Bryan. Alison, a leading light in the volunteer group literally took me under her wing shadowing me all the way along cycle paths and main roads. The experience not only built my confidence but was a very enjoyable social event.

I have since had the pleasure of meeting several cyclists with a range of physical problems including Multiple Sclerosis. Some of them showed obvious difficulties walking but I was amazed by their supreme cycling skills. I am humbled by the examples of these dedicated cyclists compared to whom my issues with back and knees pale into insignificance.

I find every excuse to cycle around any time of the day and night and delight in discovering the numerous cycle paths all around York. The enjoyment of exploring the beautiful sights and attractions of York are matched by the sheer joy of getting there under your own steam. Whereas initially I kept the electric assist motor on for most of the time. Gradually as the strength returned to my unused cycling muscles I keep the motor off except on steep inclines.

My wife also a returning cyclist has since done a council run urban cycling skills course. Now we often take time to cycle around the green and pleasant York surrounds. As our confidence grows we hope to venture further afield into the Yorkshire countryside.

There is no point in rushing it, the main point is to just enjoy the ride. The journey should be as much a joy as getting there.