Then, last weekend Dave wanted to check out a new bike shop. So in we go and I try one on for size. It was great, but it pushed the limits of my budget. I still wasn't ready to commit to buying a bike. If I came off the bike and never went on it again, it would be a helluva lot of money to waste.
In the meantime, my exercise regime is going very well indeed. I splashed out on a food processor with a blender attachment and that's been really good fun. I've been making smoothies to take into work as breakfast/snack and they've been really tasty. I have also been whizzing up veggies in the evenings. No, not juicing. I don't have a juicer and I don't have the space in my kitchen for one.
Raspberry and Mango Smoothie
I found this great website called Nerd Fitness. It's a bit frenetic and geeky, but I love it. I've picked up some great tips from them and I just like the idea of a fitness website that doesn't advocate going to the gym and/or spending lots of money. It's a website for people who are trying to get fit while they try and have a life.
One of the things they keep going on about is to keep trying, to dare to fail. The only way I was going to improve and learn the road craft is by going out and doing the time in the saddle. Being hard on myself wasn't a good time and I wasn't going to learn anything that way.
The more I kept thinking about it, the more I realised that part of the issue I was having was the fact that it's not my bike. It's Dave's bike. Bless him, he set things up as best he could for me, but at the end of the day: it's a mountain bike, for a bloke of his dimensions. But, the more time I spent on a bike that wasn't quite right for me, the less I would enjoy it. It could become a chicken and egg situation. On Friday, we set out to go bike shopping.
I fully expected to go back to go and get the Forme we'd looked at the week before. Dave was fairly determined to put me on a Specialized Vita. If you've bothered to click the links, you'll notice we were looking at hybrid bikes - good on the road and can cope with a rough farm track without too much stress.
Dave decided we'd first check out a little bike shop in a quiet Norwich suburb called Streetlife Cycles. As you can tell, he is a great believer in making informed decisions. He'd already called in and thought he'd found the one for me. In we went. The guy serving us pulled out the bike for me to sit on. We went through the usual spiel I've been perfecting for the last few months: yes, I know I should be on tippy-toes, my confidence is not what it should be yet; yes, I really need to have something with good shocks for my back, even if I only ever go out on the road. I sat on the Specialized Vita for a few minutes trying to see how I felt about it, when the guy announced "You don't look comfortable on there. That's not the bike for you. I think I've got the perfect bike right here."
With that he gets me off the bike, wheels this other one out and before I know it, he's adjusted the seat and I'm on it.
When I heard his announcement I thought 'great stuff - hard sell'.
I could not have been more mistaken. I didn't want to get off the bike at all. I couldn't tell you what it was, what the differences between the height, width or set made. All I can tell you is - it was love at first sight.
I trust that feeling implicitly. Instant comfort and confidence, once you've experienced them, you know you're onto a good thing.
And the price? It was £150 cheaper than the Vita. It's a Specialized Globe Work 01. It's a basic, functional piece of equipment that just screams BIKE and does what it says on the tin. I love it so much.
We picked it up yesterday morning and I rode it from the shop, along a cycle path called Marriott's Way from Norwich to Drayton and then on a few quiet roads and a rough farm track to Dave's house at Horsford. I learnt some very important things.
1. I don't like going first. Dave likes to ride behind me so he can keep the cars from getting too close. It also means he can advise on gears and my biking form. However, I over-anticipate issues and have panic-attacks when I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. If I follow his lead, I learn from his example. And yes, I still need to work on my gears. I tend to be in much lower gears than I should, simply because I like to feel the resistance as I pedal. I know, I'll get over it.
2. I really like going off-road. We were nearly home and crossed a road and had to go on a rough farm track. Dave shot off in front and picked his way along and I followed. It was great. I loved it! I did as he suggested and kept my fingers near my brakes, hovered over the saddle and let the bike find it's way along. When we finally got to the end of the track, I was buzzing! I would have happily done it again. Give that was the second time Dave had done the track that day, you can understand why he was less than enthusiastic at my suggestion.
Last night, there was talk of us going out this morning for a quick blast round the country roads...that lasted until I realised how much my butt hurt. As well as my confidence, it seems I also have to build up the muscles in my butt!
Isn't she pretty? All black and silver with a splash of red (spacer from Dave)