I was just reading about a medical report on the benefits of exercise on mental ability and agility into old age. I can't help thinking that riding quickly on an upright trike really helped my brain to stay active. The constant attention required to stay upright in all road surface and traffic conditions must have been pushing my CPU to the limit a lot of the time.
Every corner and camber has to be carefully judged just to survive. One's precise balance is vital to avoiding an embarrassing topple into the shrubbery or under the wheels of a juggernaut. Keeping a wary eye all around you sharpens all the senses. Avoiding endless road obstructions, potholes, farmer's mud and gravel seriously hones one's reaction time.
I also remained physically and mentally active on numerous fronts as a I worked on my various unrelated projects. As usual, I bored my online audience with endless detail as to my thought processes in achieving success. I climbed ladders, walked steep fire tracks and lifted and carried heavy weights. All the while designing and building my weird "stuff."
Collecting odd items together to form a useful object was a complex puzzle to make it happen. Constant iteration, as improvements are discovered and implemented, exercises the remaining brain cells wonderfully. It was all imagination and assembly in my head because I rarely draw anything these days.
I deliberately used blogging and forum participation from early on when I started tricycling seriously once again. At 63 and my job exported to China, I needed every possible tactic if I was not to descend into depression, anger, obesity and sloth. Tricyling quickly, over increasing distances, demanded attention to finding clothing and equipment to cope with the often wet and wintry conditions. Regular readers will remember my snow scenes as I rode in blizzards and inches of lying snow.
I would seek work by tricycling to factories and workshops in distant industrial estates or down forgotten lanes. Naturally this demanded an ever wider radius of research as I quickly wore out the "low hanging fruit" of potential local employers. This was deep in the recession and businesses were closing down everywhere. The industrial estates were barely ticking over as huge plots turned to grass and then weeds. Countless builders went broke as house sales collapsed overnight and stayed completely stagnant. "For Sale" signs faded to illegibility, as the years slowly passed.
Suffering regular agony is a great spur to improvement of the mechanics, method and dress of cycling. If only to help to reduce the intense pain. Photography and blogging soon became a serious part of my strategy for survival. Further arrows to my recycled quiver.
The mechanics of tricycling became an obsession and drove me to improve what I had on a tight budget to increase my range with less effort. I used tricycling to improve my tricycle and wardrobe by riding to ever more distant recycling yards and charity shops. Where bits of bikes could be regularly found for a pittance. Some charity shops seemed to stock suitable cycling wear as racing jersey, hand-me-downs to this very grateful cyclist.
All the while I grew steadily fitter. Fifty mile rides became manageable without exhaustion. Though for the first two-three years my legs were in constant pain. They felt tense all the time as my weight dropped steadily to skin and bone. I was regularly accosted outside supermarkets by car owners who had [disbelievingly] seen me many miles from home.
I covered most of the island of Fyn as I explored my range and endurance. I would choose to ride the other side of the island to photograph an old building, windmill or place of interest. Or to seek work of course. Until, finally, after two years of job seeking and utterly pointless courses, I was discarded as pensionable fodder to be left to my own devices.
Being the only tricycling clown, with very limited Danish skills, did not make me obviously employable material. My age meant they'd only get couple of years maximum for investing in my presence. Most of my potential skills still lay in my head and in English. Most likely employers of the linguistically handicapped, elderly AND largely unskilled were downsizing or about to close down. I had no real potential for office work. Why would anyone employ an elderly 'foreigner' when there were endless queues of Danes at every Job Center being harassed by hand picked sociopaths?
The island of Fyn is a bit of a 'baking potato' in shape. With projecting spurs around the edges. It is the perfect size for a fairly fit cyclist at forty miles x forty miles by Google Earth's infinitely straight ruler. Fifty miles if you take the wrong diagonal line. My situation at quite a bit left and quite a bit down offered other diagonals for potentially longer rides. The southwesterly winds often made returning home much harder work than escaping to distant, easterly shores.
I occasionally escaped the island altogether to poke around in Jylland. Which itself was always twenty miles away, as the Google crow flies. This was often the substance of further admiration from motorists who stopped to talk about my exploits outside local supermarkets. Many of those who spoke seemed slightly disappointed that I was neither handicapped nor even Danish. I allowed myself the excuse that I was merely an eccentric Englishman.
Buying the daily shopping, entirely by trike, was yet another successful strategy for survival. Not just the savings from not buying petrol. I used it as another excuse for a ride and still felt horribly empty when I was not allowed out. Usually that was only due to weather too extreme even for an obsessive tricyclist with two wheel drive. One year I rode every single day bar 16. Most would call that an addiction.
Of course every outward ride had to be repeated just to get back home. I did a few eighty mile rides but struggled to exceed eighty five. My average speed usually lay in the region of 12-13mph. You do the maths. Seven or eight hour rides, always pushing hard, demands far more self-discipline than I could usually muster. I would often not eat or drink anything at all, all day after leaving home. Hours would usually pass without so much as a sip of water. Of course I would normally have been enjoying meals at home. So I was doubly in debt for energy and 'lubrication' despite the hours of constant hard exercise.
Only towards the end of my tricycling obsession did I begin to take food and drink with me. Though I never really enjoyed it. I would often get indigestion. Which was much worse than eating or drinking. Even if my fasting caused extreme tiredness or even complete exhaustion towards the end of my longer rides. It was very foolish and not to be recommended but I never did find any foods I enjoyed.
I would sometimes take a mature cheddar sandwich on whole grain bread and an organic banana. No chocolate bar, biscuits or sweets ever appealed beyond the first trial or two. Perhaps a single digestive at lunch time, but it was hard to force it down without a proper drink. [Tea or coffee.] I occasionally drank tiny boxes of pure apple juice. Provided I actually remembered to drink it. When I should probably have been consuming several pints of water per hour given my energy consumption in warmer weather.
Energy replenishment was totally non-existent and I looked like a POW inmate when I took my top off. Except for the weird cyclist's legs and even stranger, patchy, cyclist's extremities tan. My weight loss helped my climbing ability no end. Even as I rapidly approached 70 I would still chase every cyclist I saw up ahead. Always completely regardless of my shopping load and the extra weight of the trike and its Abus Mini-U-Dreadnought Class, Battleship Anchor.
I once overtook a gaggle of racing cyclists out training on a horribly steep hill. It took a fit young girl on a carbon lightweight to sprint past me at the top to save the group's pride. I was carrying the usual spuds and milk in the layers of recycled sports bags lying on top of the stuffed full, Carradice saddle bag. Sometimes I would catch a peloton of serious cyclists out training and would tack on the back for a few miles.
Then I invented walking, every single morning, to compensate for not having a ride some days. It became another unbreakable habit and allowed me to reduce my dependence on tricycling. I don't write all this to impress anybody, including myself. Only to inspire others to break their chains to the sofa, Netflix and mindless food consumption.
I was over 13 stone when I started tricycling again at 63 and incredibly unfit. I was racked by hip and shoulder pain and would sometimes be paralyzed to the spot. I had no more chance of reaching my feet to put on my shoes than I could fly. When I started I could not ride 3 miles around the rural block without needing to a half hour lie down. Eight years later I'm not and I can but don't need to lie down any more.
Late morning ride for 7 miles. Headwind going. Tailwind coming home. I could see an overweight, middle aged woman pedaling up ahead. Try as I might I could not catch her. I had to crank it up to 20mph for over half a mile to make any impression. I finally swept past as she seemed to flag. No sign of a battery or motor. Superpowers? Human pity? 😎