What cycling did for me!

Let Andy Finlay's story inspire you to get the bike out of the garage and go for a ride.

It is said that life begins at forty but for me life began at fifty, my active life that is. Prior to my fiftieth birthday I led a fairly inactive lifestyle, I would drive to the office, sit most of the day at my desk and then drive home again - most of my activity came when I took the kids out. That all changed when one morning my boss advised me I was to drive the Northern Ireland Transport Minister around various sites in Edinburgh, one of which was the Bike Station.  During the morning cycling was one of the main topics of conversation with everybody in the party talking enthusiastically about cycling and the changes to cycling in Edinburgh.

This got me thinking that there must be something in this cycling lark. It was approaching my 50th birthday so my partner asked me what I wanted for my birthday. When I asked for a bike it was greeted with disbelief and a hint of laughter! A couple of weeks later I was the proud owner of a new bike, my intention was to drive halfway to work then cycle the rest. You must be thinking it's a long way between the house and office, well no it is only 6 and half miles!

As a precaution before starting my activity I took advantage of the regular health checks available to all employees at Lothian buses and got medical advice.  Not having done any regular activity I was unfit, overweight and still thinking I was a seventeen year old. I was slightly shocked when told to take it easy at first and build up slowly – it slightly dented my enthusiasm!

I soon realised after a few times on my bike how unfit I had become, however it got easier and I was soon cycling the six and half miles that would take me to work.  I remember the first morning I took the bike to work, I set off early to give myself plenty of time and as I was making my way along Queensferry Rd on a cold April morning I thought to myself, what are you doing, you have a nice BMW sitting at the door! However I carried on regardless only to get a puncture half way there. Fortunately I had done my research and had slime put in my tyres so I made it to work tried but happy.  Since then I haven’t looked back, it suddenly struck me when I took the car for its MOT I had covered more miles on my bike than I had done in the car, so needless to say the BMW was sold and a new bike was the order of the day. I am now on my third bike, each one better than the one before.

What has cycling done for me?  In the first few months I lost over a stone and a half in weight, my blood pressure came down along with my BMI and cholesterol. All in all I was very pleased.  This wasn’t a lone effort though, I have been supported by my family as I am slightly later home in the evening and I leave slightly earlier for work because I like to go an extended ride either before or after work. I also changed my eating habits to try and keep my weight under control. Comparing how I feel now to before I started regular activity I can honestly say I feel more energised, I sleep better at night, I wake refreshed in the morning and I would like to think I am fitter - I am not getting passed by as many cyclists as I used to!  In the two and a half years I have been cycling I have covered more than 4500 miles.

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