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Personal view: More exercise means more struggle - even if I'm cycling

The hard days of being allowed out to exercise only once per day are now over. Or possibly. That was at least how I interpreted the cryptic mind game that was the Prime Minster's address last Sunday. I'm finding these briefings to be a bit like modern art. While one person might see hope and freedom, and another might see uncertainty and confusion - you can only agree that you're both looking at an all white painting.

Riding a bike can be fun. Emphasis on the 'can'. Stock picture (39100506)
Riding a bike can be fun. Emphasis on the 'can'. Stock picture (39100506)

For the past eight weeks, my exercise has consisted of: struggling to complete runs because my body feels even more stiff and tired than ever, struggling to complete stretching routines for the same reason, and then struggling to complete strength workouts because, well, they're just really hard all right!?

It meant that last week it was a relief to have the offer of a loan of a bike. With my usual bike out of action, it presented a potentially fun way to break the struggle. My first ride was nice, although the handle bars are so low that having to reach them feels like being stuck in an intense yoga move for the whole forty minutes.

No problem, the handle bars are adjusted. The next day I set out again, this time in a more comfortable pose. It lasts for about five minutes. At the first slight uphill, I pull on the handlebars, expecting to wrestle the bike up a slope. But instead of helping propel me forward, the motion instead pulls the handlebars completely out of the frame. It leaves me attempting to turn around to walk home as two families, five meters either side of me, look on, shaking their heads at the sorry sight.

No problem, the handle bars are adjusted. This time they are high enough to bring me out of a permanent downward facing dog, but low enough to ensure they don't suddenly pop out when about to ride past parents with young children. I try again. And all is fine, for about twenty minutes. I'm riding through a quiet village when there is a sudden crash beneath my bike. I barely have time to glimpse what happened, but it appears the drink holder on the bike has come off with a bottle inside it and landed in the middle of the road - where cars are approaching. All I can do is pull over and smile sheepishly at the drivers who are now forced to slow and swerve around the debris I have created. In the traffic is a police car, but the officers either turn a blind eye or decide that creating hazards like I am playing Mario Kart is not a crime. Having to cycle back home, now without a water bottle, is punishment enough.

The next day I decided to go for a run.

The loneliness of a long distance creative writing student

A deadline next week is a the culmination of very strange term at university for me. I only study part time, but I have been grateful for the workload to keep me busy during these past few weeks. And unlike many subjects that have been heavily impacted by the lockdown, I am perhaps lucky enough to have chosen the one that is connected with, and even encouraged by solitude: creative writing.