Holy quit! I seem to have been giving up the demon weed for the better part of the last 15 years. Patches, lozenges, Zyban, inhalators, e-cigs, you name it, I've done it! Don't get me wrong, I have had my moments of success, but there was always an inevitability that it wouldn't last. The thing with quitting a long-lived habit, I've realized, is that unless you do something about the lifestyle from which it manifests, you can bet your Benson & Hedges that it's only a matter of time before you're back on the smoker's step (or off the diet, off the wagon, or back betting away the B & H - whatever's your poison)! I'd already made a few semi-major changes to my life in the past 5 years or so, mainly giving up work to return to university, which is no small feat as a single mum to a 6year old Tasmanian devil and a 15year old diva, nevertheless, I wanted rid of the ciggies...but how to inject change into a jaded life?
Enter providence! Along came my bike-loon of a boyfriend David Adams - cycleofaddiction.blogspot.co.uk) and he was not going to let me get away without giving cycling a go. Well, I had nothing to lose and, I thought to myself, at least when I make an utter fool of myself Dave would give up asking. But I could not have been more wrong, cycling has ignited a passion I never dreamed could come from the simple pleasure of riding a bike. 12 months ago I would have said you were barking if you would have told me that I would now be gripped by the Tour de France, daily scouring the internet for cycling forums, online bike-shops and bicycle blogs...me, discussing the aesthetics of road bikes versus mountain bike with my boyfriend? Unbelievable how quickly cycling gets into your blood! Furthermore, besides the great fun I have riding my bike, it has proved to be the most efficient form of nicotine-replacement yet.
As far as creating a distraction from nicotine cravings, hell yeah...cycling's the best. However, it wasn't long before it dawned on me that if I was going to get the most out of it then breathing was necessary!
I wanted to get up a hill without expelling my lungs at the roadside, halfway up.
I wanted to turn a golden-brown tan, not an asphyxiated blue.
I wanted to be able to chat to my boyfriend, the guy that got me on a bike in the 1st place, the guy that has stuck by me, every slow and struggled pedal stroke since. Coughing, gasping and spluttering does not make for fantastic riding company (it's rude and it's definitely not sexy!).
Ultimately, it came to this...I either wanted to ride my bike or I wanted a fag, which was it to be? Doh, it's a no-brainer!
And so, as Scott Stoll says, "A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke"....and with that I'm taking my 1st pedal stroke!