August 03, 2015
Another insprational #whyiride from Bike Doctor Club member Mal Grainger
I came to cycling in my late fifties and almost by accident. I retired from the Army in 2012 after nearly 40 years’ service and like a lot of soldiers, I had exercised to the extent that was necessary for me to pass mandatory fitness tests. However, I had never really engaged in any particular sport to any great degree. I had played some rugby in my youth, run short distances of 3 – 5 miles fairly regularly until my knees gave out and then a good friend had taught me how to row. This had always been enough to get me through my military service but I would not say that I was particularly fit. I am a big man and everyone would tell me that I carried my 18 Stones well. Prior to my retirement, my wife suggested to me that I should buy a bike and ride on the trails of South Wales with my Grandson now that I would have ‘more time’. I accepted her advice and purchased a hardtail mountain bike but had no more ambition than to be able to ride short sections of the Taff Trail on the occasional Sunday morning. But a strange thing happened. I found that I needed to ride on the other days during the week and the more I rode, the more I wanted to ride. The more I rode, the easier it became and I began to see quite significant changes in my fitness and I began to lose weight. This made riding easier as well. But it wasn’t just riding my bike. I wanted to learn about the bike and how to maintain it properly after some early neglect had cost me dearly at service time. I did some bike maintenance courses and this also contributed to my growing love of cycling.
Three years later, I now own 3 bikes. At the suggestion of my local bike shop Bicycle Doctor Porth, I have joined a club and the comradeship I have found has only strengthened my love of cycling. I enjoy both the physical and mental challenges of cycling and I have rediscovered the thrill of speed. The excitement of descending is the same whether you are 10 or 60 and whilst I would not describe myself as a risk taker, the exhilaration of a fast descent puts a smile on my face for the rest of the day and judging by the faces of my fellow club riders, they all feel the same way that I do. I still enjoy solo rides and being alone on some of the more remote trails in South Wales, but when I ride with others I enjoy the co-dependency of group riding and my fellow club members have inspired me to achieve more on the bike. My health and wellbeing have undoubtedly benefitted, I have lost 5 Stones and I have not felt this fit for many years. I have conquered some of the biggest and steepest climbs that South Wales has to offer and I have recently completed 100s on both the road and mountain bikes. I am not an exceptional bike rider. I am a steady club rider, who rides simply for the love of it. During my rides, I have a lot of fun and I have met some inspirational bike riders, including a couple of Septuagenarians. I fully intend to be one in my turn and will still be riding with my club.