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Needlessly Cycling 16km to Work

The newly installed, 8 kilometre (km), bitumen cycle/walking trail that runs through the length of my town has one rule, which is really more of a guideline in both the interpretation and literal sense of the rule, and that is to keep left.

You can see in the image that this rule is painted onto the trail periodically to remind people.

Apparently the rule doesn't apply to pedestrians who are used to walking anywhere they please on the majority of footpaths.

Which would be fine if only they'd do one thing every now and then - look over their shoulder to see if anything is coming up behind them. When you get two or more walkers together, they often get so caught up in conversation that, whilst taking up the width of the walking trail, they forget that others may want to get past.

As you may have guessed from the picture I've been cycling this trail. I've been doing so every day for the last three weeks, five days a week, 8km there and back (16km total) to get to work. Considering I work from home - that's dedication for you!

I've written about my attempts to keep fit before, something I've kept up since about 2003 (I think) when I started a regular routine of weight lifting, sit ups and stretches, coupled with daily walks. Then I made the mistake of taking up jogging.

A few months after we got our dog, Oscar, in late 2010, my regular walks with him were stretching out to about an hour and a half. That, along with running around like an idiot with Oscar in the back garden on a daily basis, seemed like more than enough exercise for me so I decided to drop all the weight lifting I'd been doing.

As it turns out, walking an hour and a half with a little dog that likes to stop and 'smell the roses' (you dog owners will know I don't actually mean 'roses') quite a lot along the way isn't really fooling my body into thinking it's getting enough exercise.

I didn't want to go back to weight training because, well, it's boring as hell, despite how good you feel afterwards.

My partner bought me a mountain bike back in 2010, which I rode for a while but has kind of been in storage lately. Since they opened up the new bike track which gives you a near unbroken run through the most scenic parts of our town I figured that would be a great way to get in some additional exercise. Plus you rarely see overweight cyclists - well not the hardcore ones who go out and buy the Lycra, 'go fast' suits anyway (I'm not doing that!).

The ride is really good but right at the other end of an already hilly track is the steepest hill I've ever ridden a bike up. It marks the halfway point of my round trip journey.

The bottom third of the hill is the steepest part and, as you can see from the image, it's steep enough for the council to put up a warning sign for those going down hill on bikes. It's the only warning sign about hills along the whole trail.

Going down you have to use your brakes otherwise you're likely to collide with an unsuspecting dog owner or worse, a baby laden stroller as you go around the corner at the bottom.

Going up, even in the lowest gear it's a real struggle to keep the bike moving. By the time I get to the sign I have to stop for a rest because I"m gasping. I get almost as much exercise going up this hill as I do riding over the whole of the rest of the trail.

Once I've caught my breath I continue up the other two thirds of the hill, which still requires low gear but is thankfully not as steep. Totally worth it for the view and the exercise though.

Despite three weeks of this thus far my weight is staying constant at 70kg. Which may not seem heavy but my ideal weight, when I'm in super fit condition is around 64kg. Even at 70kg I'm not saying I'm fat. I just know that I can be fitter and lighter. I just like to keep on top of things.

I don't ever want to get to the stage where I can't do something because I'm overweight or not fit.

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