As lockdown continues, Gayle digs out a rusty, dusty old bike she hasn’t ridden since she was a teenager, tarts it up and goes for a cycle…
The message from Boris was loud and clear – we must only leave our homes for “very limited” purposes.
Those of us who like to keep fit were delighted when the PM stated we could enjoy one form of exercise a day outdoors, alone or with members of our households.
I believe taking this exercise is hugely important, both for our mental and physical health, and I’m 100% dedicated to doing something physical outside every single day, no matter the weather.
Having cancelled a holiday in a gorgeous wee cottage on the banks of Loch Shiel in Lochaber (I was meant to be there this week!), and unable to head off on any mission deemed “essential”, like all of us, I had to start thinking outside the box.
I get it, of course. Lives are at risk; indulging in wilderness adventures far from the front door would be selfish and irresponsible.
Right now, I’m grateful for two things – being able to work from home and the fact I live in the countryside. The latter means any chances of bumping into people are much slimmer than if I lived in a town, village or city.
In a bid to stay in shape and get away from constant Covid-19 updates, I’ve enjoyed regular solo runs and not seen a soul over the past week.
But keen to give my tired legs something less strenuous to do, I set about the long overdue task of clearing out an old shed.
It was here that I came upon a very old pink and purple mountain bike, stuffed unceremoniously underneath piles of wood and fence posts.
I was gifted this for my 12th birthday as a reward for having passed my cycling proficiency test – which I’d done on an ancient 1950s bike complete with basket.
My mum had bought this from the mart for a tenner, not realising that cruel classmates, showing off their “cool” new bikes, would mock me mercilessly for daring to ride around on this relic.
When I received my pink and purple mountain bike, I truly appreciated it and used to cycle round the Aberdeenshire countryside for hours, often listening to a cassette tape of the Stone Roses, Ride, The Charlatans or Happy Mondays on my Sony Walkman.
Could this faithful old friend be brought back to life, I wondered?
It took considerable effort and swearing to drag the thing out, and when I did, I realised the brakes had seized and the tyres were flat.
I’m no cycling expert – that’s why the bike has been gathering cobwebs for at least two decades – but I knew if I applied WD40 to some of the mechanisms and pumped up the tyres, there might be some hope of resurrection.
It was a miracle that neither of the tyres had a puncture, but I suspect repairing one might have been beyond me.
To my great surprise, it didn’t take long to get the bike in motion, although I fear the back tyre has now deflated considerably.
I wobbled off down a rough track and spent a nice half hour touring the countryside. I didn’t dare go far as I don’t own a cycle helmet and I realise now is not the time to be falling off into a bush or onto tarmac and getting injured.
As I’m based in pretty much the middle of nowhere, there were no shops to cycle to, or any other attractions for that matter.
But it didn’t matter. It was lovely to get out into the fresh air, to enjoy a bit of gentle exercise and see the world from a different perspective.
That I was able to “fix” up a bike that must be almost three decades old was quite a feat. I am proud!
These are undeniably troubling times, but they are also full of opportunities if we look for them.
Why not dig out something from your childhood – it might be an old bike or it could be just be a case of sorting through old photos – or do something you haven’t done in decades. It’s sure to make you smile.