Cycling Therapy

These last couple of weeks have been tough! In these past 3 weeks or so the lockdown restrictions have hit me like a bus. I know it may have come late in the day but my gosh it has hit hard.

Since we went into lockdown in March last year and then again in November, I have been happily working away in my newly formed home office and enjoying the many benefits that full time home working brings.

I enjoy not having to commute into Nottingham twice a week, a commute which began at 05:45 each Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I enjoy the extra time that this allows me to spend with Sophie and more recently Winston. I enjoy the increased flexibility that comes with a day from home, perhaps start a little earlier and end an hour earlier. The latter certainly is perfect during Spring and Summer when an early evening ride out in the sunshine is quite honestly the greatest escape, if only for an hour or so.

Anyway, I must admit I have had a serious drop in motivation over the past few weeks. Perhaps the January weather, dark mornings and dark evenings; perhaps work becoming as busy as ever after a slow Christmas period; or perhaps the realisation that I haven’t had a glass of beer with my friends since August Bank Holiday; I haven’t seen my parents since Christmas Day; or the rather terrible news that it is unlikely my best man and brother, Mike, will be unable to attend our wedding in June. Perhaps a cocktail of all of these issues have absolutely resulted in a downbeat, unmotivated, unfocused and stroppy Matt. A similar place many others have been or are currently in I can well imagine.

This drop in motivation has manifested in minimum exercise being completed, eating terrible food and if I am honest a slight disconnect at work for a short period. In a 10 day period I ate a Dominoes, a McDonalds and a takeaway curry. I have felt frustrated and annoyed at the smallest of things; every day beginning to feel the same. Get up, walk the dog, work, feed the dog, work, cook dinner, watch evening television. The problem with this schedule is that it applies in lockdown to everyday, even the weekends. Despite being like this for months, this has hit me so hard this month.

This week though I have started my yoga back up and have managed a couple of rides back on the turbo. I admit the Sprinting hasn’t yet taken effect. Let’s call that a ‘nice to have’ at the moment, an optional extra on the training list.

Morning Yoga is great for me. It is a great support for the cycling training but more importantly great for the mind. The 30 minutes session takes me out of the the usual routine and offers some great time to let the mind float away and relax, all of course while the dogs and cats look on with complete confusion at my downward dog and tree pose. It is the only moment of the day when my pets seem to have a ceasefire.

On Thursday I was delighted to look out of the window and see the clouds part and the sun began to shine. At the time, I was in a work meeting and instantly decided that lunchtime was going to be an hour of outdoor cycling. I switched the pepperoni pizza for fresh air, sunshine and a 190BPM max.

The ride itself was nothing impressive, a sub 60 minute, short 24km lunchtime ride with a couple of minor hills to contend with but it was an absolute treat. The cool breeze refreshed my tired eyes as I cycled the ambling ‘local’ countryside, the sunlight, albeit cool, had me smiling and daydreaming of longer, brighter and better days when this 24km will become 50km/60km of an evening. Hopefully these will be the days we start getting back to normal; a time when a ride with friends is broken up with a drop in at the local coffee shop and finishes in a pub garden with a refreshing beer or two. Being aware of out lack of discipline, possibly organising a taxi home. Better days when a cycle can be extended to include a stop at my parents house as part of a really nice 100km route from my house to theirs in Coventry. This also likely to end in the pub.

At any rate, this cycle ride did not just get the heart pumping and the lungs screaming; it provided me a complete snap back to how I felt before. I got home from the ride and felt completely re-energised, refocused and motivated again. It felt like some form of Cycling Therapy that had weirdly pulled me clean out of the bad place I was in. It was a true gift from the gods.

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