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After much humming and ha-ing, I have finally obtained a bicycle.

Isn't she beautiful!

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time. The benefits hardly need spelling out – reducing ecological footprint, reducing fat-heffalump footprint and thus reducing risk of diabetes/stroke/heart disease/depression etc, not feeling quite so much like an outsider in this very cycle-centric city I live it (almost all my friends have bikes, and quite of few of them wear specially padded lycra when riding).

Before I go on I just want to say that I Hate Exercise. I know it’s important, and being a doctor I’ve seen the effects of a life lived substituting doughnuts for dumbbells. I also know lots of people who actually enjoy their chosen form of exercise, be it running, swimming or social soccer comps. Apparently a good workout leaves them feeling on top of the world, with a rush of euphoria akin to a small amount of an illicit substance. Even back when I was going to the gym regularly in my intern year, all I ended up feeling was a bit sweaty and occasionally a mild headache. Mind you, the longer term effects were good: I slept better, had more energy, felt like my mood was more stable, but the immediate reward that keeps people coming back for more was never mine.

Running seems to be the most efficient way of working up a lather, but for the last couple of years an old ankle injury has become annoyingly irritable with repeated impact – even walking long distances stirs it up. So, I’ve been hoping that cycling will prove to be the answer to all my problems, namely, lack of fitness and lack of enjoyment of exercise. But at the same time, I haven’t ridden a bike in about 18 years, apart from up and down the street a couple of times on my dad’s bike in NZ. Naturally I was quite nervous, even going into the bike shop yesterday, and really quite anxious contemplating my first ride today.

However, to paraphrase Mastercard:

New bike without the slightest trace of pink, but with nice, cushy woman’s saddle – $599.

New helmet that doesn’t look either too sporty or too ditzy – $89.

Top of the line bike lock to prevent those delinquent youths from nicking the damn thing – $99.

Miscellaneous other bicycle maintenance equipment – $150

Feeling the rush of wind through the stray bits of hair as you coast down a slight incline – price only mitigated by having to dismount 50 metres away from home on the way back and sit on the ground for 5 minutes waiting for the woozy feeling to go away.

I’m not quite sure what lead me to almost faint – I only cycled maybe 2 kms. There were a few small dips and hills, which took a bit of experimenting with the gears to get around, but I didn’t feel like I worked overly hard. I had eaten, but a couple of hours before hand, I wasn’t dehydrated. I don’t know. And, for the record, my BMI only just creeps into overweight territory at 25.7, so I’m not massive. Just not very fit, apparently.

Worth it? Well, I’m not going to write it off after one fun ride that ended badly. I’ll just try taking it a bit slower next time.

What about your experiences with exercise? Love? Love/hate? or just plain hate?