Becoming A Cycling Enthusiast
Helped Me Change My Fitness And Lifestyle
by Zoltan Farkas | London based
“Becoming A Cycling Enthusiast Helped Me Change My Fitness And Lifestyle” is the third story for our project What Gets You Out Of Bed. We asked a close friend and great soul, Zoltan, his journey back to fitness. Fitness as such was never his thing. However, he found his way through sport. From having to give up football to making his childhood commodity, cycling, into a suitable workout, Zoltan tells us his vision of fitness and how becoming a cycling enthusiast helped him changed his fitness and lifestyle.
Coming from a small town in Hungary, the only way of getting around was cycling. There was no public transport whatsoever at the time. Going to school, football training and meeting friends always involved my bike. My Mom used to be so worried that I would get run over one day. She used to walk me out to the gate almost every morning. Sometimes she would say: “If you get run over don’t even bother coming home”.
Finding My Fitness Path
When I was young I tried many different sports. From tennis and swimming to karate and water polo, I tried various activities to see which one would bring me the most joy. It did not take long before I figured out that none of these suited me. I used to go to a sport-focused school so sport was a daily routine for me. But out of all, football was the only sport I could engage with on a higher level. Football was my passion and exercising became second nature. My brother played football and my father was a referee. Therefore, it was almost obvious that I belonged on the football field, as well. I was about 8 years old when I joined my local football team along with a few of my school mates. We really spent our entire days together and ever since we’ve been best friends.
The Journey From Football To Rediscovering Cycling
My daily routine was rather similar up until I reached age 19 and moved to London. The first couple of weeks were really hard. Getting used to London, finding a job and dealing with feeling homesick. For the first few months it did not even cross my mind that I should look for a place to play football or do some activities. Luckily, I had a few friends in London. They found a small Hungarian football league which was really fun. Every Sunday I’d play one hour of football. It wasn’t much, but something to look forward to during the week. This was something I did for a good 4 years up until 2012 when I had an accident and ended up breaking my cruciate ligament playing football.
This was an enormous pain to bear, both physically and emotionally. Not to mention the disappointment I had with the NHS. (They wanted me to wait up to 3 months for an MRI appointment to clarify what the exact damage I had. Bear in mind I could not walk without crutches). I decided to travel back to Hungary to have an operation done privately so that I could recover as quickly as possible. I had two options to choose from; either to have a ligament replacement surgery, which comes with a 9-month long rehabilitation, or not have a cruciate ligament at all. Either way my decision was to bring some great sacrifices along with it. I went with the second option and faced not being able to play football or sports involving sideways movements again.
However, even though this decision took away the biggest passion I had, it also brought in the next chapter of my life, and taking up cycling seriously began.
How Cycling Changed My Lifestyle
I always had a bike, but it was not built for long rides, but rather just to get to work and back. When I bought my first road bike my love towards cycling just got bigger. The difference you can feel in speed and comfort is unreal. After a few months, I registered for my first sport event (London-Oxford 70 miles). I quickly realised that the training I had done was almost equal to nothing. These experiences gave me feedback on my strength and stamina. I just knew that I had to work harder so that when I go on long rides again, I would feel more powerful. My first real sportive was the Ride London (100mile) where you have a chance to ride on completely traffic-free roads. Such a great experience. These events make you want to ride more and more! I must say my finish time was not the best (just under 6 hours), which was due to some unwanted knee pain towards the end and lack of knowledge on how to feed/refuel whilst on a long ride. I realized refueling is super important. So, I started to practice that, too. I managed to get in to the next Ride London 100 Miles – Surrey event a year later and I can certainly say that it was the best ride I’ve ever done. I learnt from my previous mistakes and managed to keep my time under 5 hours (4h 49). I was extremely happy; some pro riders are working really hard to finish the race around 4h.
What Keeps Me Motivated
There is always space for improvement, I believe. Setting a new goal each time helps keep me motivated to get the most out of myself.