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"I feel better than I have done in 20 years, thanks to cycling"

Closeup of a man's feet on the pedals of a bike - he's wearing black and white trainers and you can see the sun is starting to set in the distace

Whilst Covid-19 has put a full set of spanners into socializing, the Derby team has been lucky enough to enjoy some social interactions selling bikes and doing repairs at their workshop. They meet some great characters in their line of work (all people who cycle are cool), including Craig. Like many people, Craig rediscovered the joys of cycling during the first lockdown and was surprised at how quickly his health and well-being underwent a huge transformation:

How I fell back in love with cycling

"I turned 49 last February and realised that other than walking to and from work each day, a total of two miles, I didn’t do any exercise, ate far too much food and felt very unhealthy. I wasn’t happy with how I felt or looked, but had become used to it; other than a couple of half-hearted attempts, I wasn’t really looking to do anything about it.  

My days of being active were well behind me. From leaving school in 1987 until 2013, I worked as a joiner; arthritic knees from working in the building trade and too many football injuries meant I was in pain most days and I eventually gave up working on the tools and settled into office work, I felt unhealthy then but sitting behind a desk all day just made it worse. Then, towards the end of March 2020, it was looking more likely that the UK would go into a lockdown.

"I was worried that if I was furloughed, my level of inactivity would become a real issue, so I figured I needed to do something about it".

As a teenager, I was a keen cyclist and a member of the Beauvale Cycling Club in Eastwood, but then motorbikes started to gain more importance than cycling and by the time I was 20, I had pretty much given up on it. I still had an interest in cycling, but it was nothing more than keeping up with the Grand Tours each year, but I thought why not give it a go again? I had a bike, which I'd bought five years earlier but had only ridden 50 miles on since. It had been gathering dust in the shed most of the time. 

"Four days later I was furloughed from work and it would be 15 weeks before I went back. It turns out that this would be one of the best things ever to happen to me".

I signed up for a free trial of a cycling app and had my first ride. I rode for five miles – and couldn't believe how unfit I had become! But I didn’t want to stop! I pushed myself to do a little bit more each day and within two weeks, I was managing the 5 miles and feeling pretty good at the end of it.  As time went on, I was feeling better, healthier and I even started to notice my clothes feeling looser. I began posting my cycling exploits on Twitter and this led to some chats with one of the players at Basford United. This seemed to spur me on a bit more: I now had someone to share my little victories with.
I started to set small goals for myself - which made it feel like the wins were coming quite regularly. I also learned just how important making small changes to diet and nutrition could be to my overall well-being. By the end of my 15 weeks of furlough, I was loving riding six days a week and covering around 140 miles!  Despite going back to work at the start of July, I still covered around 100 miles a week on my bike and finally hit 3 stone weight loss around the end of September. The sense of achievement I felt was unbelievable.
This wasn't the only benefit of my new found love of cycling and healthy eating. Back in 2017, I developed tinnitus due to stress at work. This brought on anxiety attacks, bouts of depression and insomnia. I was on medication for all of these. 

"By the time I went back to work, my life had turned around so much that I now no longer take any medication and I finally sleep properly every night. My tinnitus is also notably quieter and doesn't trouble me anything like it used to".

My asthma has also all but cleared up as well. From using my inhaler twice a day, I now use it at most, once every seven days. I feel better than I have done in 20 years.                         

"Moral of this story: If I can do this, anyone can. 

You've got this, never give up"

- Craig (pictured right).

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