Thursday, 10 January 2008

Riding a bike makes you live longer

Blue-leader, otherwise known as Jon (or Captain Mannering to me as there are many similarities) remarked to me the other day that I had been riding with the Weald and Downlander's bike group for 10 years now. I must admit I hadn't thought it was that long but its funny how time goes quickly when you are enjoying yourself. We are an odd group of mountain bikers! Our average age at the moment is probably in the mid to late 40s and ranges from the youngest regular riders who must be around 30 to several riders the wrong side of 60. We have all learnt that increasing age brings its own problems when it comes to riding up and down mountains (it hurts, you are slower, you loose the urge to throw yourself down the steepest and rockiest of slopes, it takes longer to heal, it hurts..) but there are also some advantages. One of them is that people in cafes and pubs are so shocked to see us arriving dripping in mud that they treat us with sympathy and the second is that many of the group can afford the most expensive and latest design mountain bikes and enjoy showing them off to envious twenty somethings at the top of the South Downs (its even better if we have managed to ride all the way up without getting off!). My illness and the life events of last year have meant that I have not been such a regular attended at the fortnightly rides and one of my hopes for 2008 is that I will be better. With that in mind, I an and I made our way to the meeting point on the 30th December for a gentle ride around the Groombridge area. As it turned out the only people there were Blue-Leader and 'Vic-the-elder' who were just about to set out for a gentle hour or two ride. Ian had hurt his back, I wasn't very fit and Vic-the-elder has many things to contend with that slow him down so we ended up doing a fairly flat ride along the old railway line, stopping in a friendly cafe for bacon butties (the Polish waiters and kitchen staff thought we were hilarious) and then riding back. The company was good, the conversation amusing and I realised what I had been missing! Last Sunday the ride was local for us and a few more people turned up! It involved some long slow (for me) uphill climbs to get to the top of the downs and some nice easy off road riding. In the morning the weather was lovely and again the company was good. We stopped for lunch in a pub and I must admit on the way back to the car I regretted the facts that I hadn't done much exercise lately, that I had eaten too much over Christmas and mostly that I had had sausage and chips for lunch! Oh well, back to the gym!

I feel I must add something on Vic the elder here. I have posted a picture of him at the top of this blog. He is probably our oldest regular rider and really is a bit of an inspiration. He has struggled for most of his life with severe asthma and has very poor lung capacity. In addition the cold and the exertion seem to trigger an asthma attack. A couple of years ago he fell out the loft and broke several bones. We thought that would end his biking career but no, he fought back and still joins us on rides. On the flat he is faster than me and he throws himself happily down hills where I get off and walk!

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