Health column: Why I'm having a wheely good time back on the roads on my bike

Darren Burke is learning to love life on two wheels again.
Darren Burke is learning to love life on two wheels again.

They say (although I’m not sure who ‘they’ are) that you never forget how to ride a bike.

Well, whoever ‘they’ are have got it absolutely spot on. Let me explain.

Back in the day when I was a a paperboy (they probably don’t exist these days), a pair of wheels was essential to make the round just that little bit quicker on the dark, grotty mornings, especially when I’d drawn the ‘once every three weeks rota’ of having to deliver heavy, just for show copies of the Financial Times to some draughty warehouse well off the beaten track of my usual route.

When my days lugging a fluorescent bag came to an end and the proper world of work came beckoning, the trusty Raleigh was ditched in favour of a not so trusty Fiat Punto.

But now, I’m rediscovering my love of the open road, pushing down on the pedals once more and getting in shape at the same time. And I’m loving it.

Apart from a brief run out at Center Parcs a few years back, I figured out that it must be more nearly 30 years since I’d last properly ridden a bike.

So it was with some trepidation that I signed up to an organised ride with a hired bike a few weeks back. I thought I’d ease back in gradually and see if it was for me and still held the same appeal and freedom it offered as a teenager.

I wasn’t quite expecting the 18 mile slog our leader took us on, but at no time (well, OK then, I puffed up a few hills) was I left behind, sweating and cursing in a crumpled heap rueing my decision to get into the saddle once again.

Alright, I was a bit wobbly at first, but soon, it all came flooding back and I found myself zipping along with ease.

And although my nether regions (sorry if you are eating your breakfast) were a little, shall we say, delicate, the next day, I had no hesitation in asking if I could take the bike on a long-term loan.

Having undergone a tough time of late ‘off the field’ and dealing with lots of stuff I’d rather not be dealing with that’s put me under a fair bit of strain, the joys of getting on the bike have offered much needed relief on the rougher days.

I can get home from work, jump aboard and lose myself on the paths, cycleways and remote country lanes and routes I never even knew existed. And in many cases, they are literally minutes away from my own doorstep.

On the way, I can leave behind the woes and come back buzzing and pumped, feeling happier and above all else, fitter.

Beautiful, scenic countryside just begging to be discovered and improving you general health and well being and with a smaller waistline too - what’s not to like?

I’m now wondering why I didn’t do this years ago. OK, I might not be the new Bradley Wiggins but I’m out there and making the most of every minute on the wheels.

What’s more, my eldest son has also got himself a bike on hire too, allowing us some father and son bonding time that’s a rarity in this day and age.

I’ve also dug out my running shoes again - but that’s a column for another day.