Homeward bound

We live at the top of a hill.  It’s a hill of reasonable stature that gets gradually steeper as you approach the top.  As a place to live it’s good it you’re concerned about rising sea levels or floods in general.  It isn’t so good however as a starting point for exercise if you’re recovering from a Heart Attack.

There are some other benefits of living at the top of a hill!

In the early days of my rehabilitation, when I first arrived home from hospital, I tried to avoid the slopes as much as possible (see An athlete’s pulse and “little” walks).  It was possible to do with a 5 minute walk, but I soon had to take them on.  My twice daily walks would incorporate slow, steady ascents, allowing me to gradually build my strength and confidence.

Since I’ve been riding my bike I’ve avoided the hill completely.  Instead, I’ve put the bike rack on the car and driven to a flatter area to start and finish my rides.  It’s been a pain, but it reduced the risk of pushing myself too hard.

Given the girls have never managed to scale the hill on their bikes either it has held fear for the whole family.  I have therefore had strong support for my conservative, risk averse approach.

Over the past few months the hill seems to have grown.  Like a volcanic island, it has risen a few inches every time I have driven up it.  Concern over the impact the hill might have on my health has allowed in to grow into a challenge of almost biblical proportions.

Yesterday, however, I decided to take it on…

The gentle ascent to our house

I finally managed to get away from work early enough to get out for a ride before darkness descended, taking advantage of another beautiful afternoon.  I did a reasonable mid-week ride (my first), but the majority of it was just a warm up for the final ascent.

As I approached the lower slopes I felt strong but a little anxious.  I applied the lessons learned at the weekend;  low gear, steady cadence, maintain momentum. always try to keep something in reserve.

It turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax.  I made it without any distress and not even a thought of getting off to walk.  An anti-climax, but another major milestone!  Overcoming this hurdle will take about 30 minutes off most of my rides.  It’ll make heading out in the evening more doable, and also finish them off with a cheeky little ascent.

It also served as a reminder of how far I’ve come since last June and my “little” walks!

Inverness, here I come!

6 thoughts on “Homeward bound

  1. Philip Squire

    Good going. You’re doing better than me. I picked up my new bike last Saturday morning and although I am genuinely excited about getting out and about, through very little fault of my own, so far the extent of my cycling has consisted of the short journey back from Halfords. For the record, my biggest fear is traffic as opposed to hills, but maybe that’s because we have more traffic and less hills in the southeast.


    1. Paul Squire Post author

      Getting the bike home is a major step in the right direction! It obviously works as well, which is a result!

      Unfortunately traffic is something that everyone has to get used to. I still get surprised on a regular basis as vehicles fly past me. The important thing is to be as safe as you can be!

      Good luck!


  2. John Medd

    Whenever I think of ‘hills’ in Scotland I’m reminded of the Electric Brae. It’s all in the mind. Good luck with your ride and I hope you raise lots of money (and awareness) for the cause.


  3. Stephanae V. McCoy

    Congratulations on your achievement!!! I can’t imagine what it must be like to experience a heart attack especially in one so young. When my friend had one at 45 she was almost paralyzed with fear afterwards of doing even mundane tasks and I feared for her. Eventually she was able to face the fear and she started working out and trying to get back on the right path. Keep up the good work!!


    1. Paul Squire Post author

      Thanks Stephanae! It was scary to get back into exercise, and I’m always conscious of how hard I’m pushing myself, but I’m getting more comfortable all the time.

      I consider myself very lucky to be able to do what I’m doing. It could so easily have been a different story in so many ways!



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