Not too far from our village, is a hill which has become synonymous in my mind, with my year so far, specifically in relation to my health. It’s quite a steep hill which takes you up to the lane which runs along the top of the valley, giving spectacular views over the Humber and surrounding fields. It’s a hill that I really want to be able to climb but not on foot …… no, this hill is one that I want to be able to cycle up!
Over the last two months or so, I have been cycling the same 9.5 mile route, trying to shorten the time taken, using harder gears with minimum stops. Initially when I arrived at the base of this hill, I would dismount from my bike and push it, huffing and puffing with a couple of pauses to catch my breath, to the point where the lane across the valley top starts. Here I would pause my GPS cyclometer, have a much needed drink of water and take a couple of minutes breather, before starting off along the lane. The lane itself is a bit of a challenge with the first mile or so a gentle incline (with some not so gentle steeper sections) and it has become a point of honour for me to be able to complete the whole length of the lane without stopping, no easy task but one which I am pleased to say, I haven’t failed to achieve as yet.
The hill, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of fish but I am determined to conquer it, although it will probably take me years, and I can now cycle around and beyond the first bend. Thinking about the hill as a whole is quite daunting and so I have adopted a stepped approach. The first step was to be able to cycle to the first bend and I can now do this with relative ease.
Identifying set features after that point was next and so the ‘leaning over the hedge’ tree on the left of the picture looking back down the hill was my next target and it took me two or three attempts to get there but I make it every time now. My next target is another tree on the same side of the lane but a short distance further up and I am slowly but surely closing down the distance between the first and second targets and then it’ll be time to choose another feature, probably the next bend.
It’s not easy some days, especially if I’m not feeling tickety boo but having already achieved a certain target, I find that I am determined not to allow myself to ‘fall back’ and ‘give up’ and I push myself that little bit harder, ignoring burning muscles, heartburn and total lack of oxygen. It works as well because once I’ve pushed my way through that period of ‘pain’, I get a second wind and the sense of achievement is immense which in turn lifts my mood and my feeling of wellbeing. As for my fitness levels, 9.5 miles 2 or 3 times a week (weather and health permitting) have worked wonders on my hipline (some 2 inches lost), not to mention my waistline and leg strength.
This year I feel that quite a lot of things have been an uphill struggle but I am determined that, as with the hill on my cycle circuit, I wont give up, I wont be beaten. I will reach the summit, still huffing and puffing and in need of a breather no doubt, and admire the view before heading off into what I hope will be a less challenging but enjoyable period of time.
As for my bike? Well I’ve covered approximately 142 miles so far and I hope to be able to continue throughout the winter (weather permitting) and have furnished Middle Mudlet with my birthday wish-list:- long-sleeved brightly coloured cycle jersey, long cycling trousers, lightweight waterproof jacket, gloves ………