Now we are the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, lockdown we are limited in our excursions to only the necessary. At the moment in Scotland this means; going to work if you’re an essential worker, going out for essential groceries, taking one exercise session a day, or going out for medical needs for you or someone you care for.
As I am not required to go out to work right now, and having a weakened immune system from years of medication for Ulcerative Colitis, my partner is getting any essential groceries. Which leaves me with my one exercise session a day and I, like many other people it seems, are getting on a bike.
Some people are getting on old bikes they’ve not used for years, hauling them out of the back of garages and sheds, others are using hire bikes, and some are buying bikes for the first time in years. Cycle shops, are for the moment, allowed to stay open for essential repairs and sales. I hope fools don’t ruin this by not keeping to the solo exercising (or with your household).
Yesterday I got my bike out and attempted to cycle in what was one of the only two hail showers of the day. Timing has never been my strong point! I have to confess that as my face was stung repeatedly and I had only just set off, I circled around the block and headed for home. As such, I was home in less than ten minutes, and of course, after I had put the bike away the sun came back out. Like I say, timing…
Today went a little better, but I realised quickly how unfit I had become in only a few weeks confined to home. Five miles was pretty hard work, and I had avoided the worst of the local hills (Edinburgh is full of them and they are pretty hard to avoid). It has encouraged me to try and get out again more often*.
Still, I did it, I got out. The roads were blissfully quiet, and the air was clean and lovely, even on the busiest of roads. I did something I would never have done in a million years under normal conditions; I cycled on a bit of my neighbourhood part of the Queensferry Road. Everybody gave me a full left lane to myself, except one arse in an Audi, and some people even waved as well as slowing down to pass me and giving me a wide berth. Oh, if only cycling in the city was like this normally.
(For those unfamiliar with Edinburgh, the Queensferry Road is a main dual carriageway arterial road that links the Queensferry Crossing, which replaced the Forth Road Bridge, to the city centre.)
If city residents and planners learn anything from this time it should be that if you provide safe cycle routes people will use them. Throughout my ride I saw a lot more cyclists than I did cars, and it was only a five mile route. This is revolutionary! Build it and they will come has never been truer.
Everyone was keeping their 2m minimum distance, although less people were giving each other a ‘Good day’ than normal. I’m guessing they’re scared to open their mouths, or they’re just rude of course. It seemed the ladies were more likely to say “Hi” than the men, but that’s not uncommon. It seems that racing types only acknowledge other racing types, at least in the mens domain, whereas in the women’s arena if you’ve got a bike you’re one of us. We welcome all. I have always found women’s cycling in Edinburgh to be very friendly, and I have always had someone stop and ask me if I’m OK when I’m at a cycle way junction and looking lost (man or woman).
It was fun, and I felt so much better for it. Fresh air, yes in the city, and a top up of Vitamin D does wonders for your head. I felt so much better that when I got home I showered (as usual), did my hair (that’s been infrequent), and even put my face on (for the first time in two weeks). My partner appreciated the effort, and rewarded me by bringing me coffee and cake**. He’s perfecting the home made ‘Costa’ish Flat White’. It was very good, and the cake was a 10p out of date bargain buy he found in Scot-Mid yesterday on his ‘bread run’.
After all, shouldn’t all bike rides feature cake and coffee?
*You can follow me on Strava as I try to improve my fitness, if you wish – ‘Blythe Storm’.
**To be honest, he would have done that anyway 🙂