Legs or Pedals?

Wordpretzels, the summer is here and the weather is clement – perfect for getting the bike out of the garage and going for a ride. Or is it better to put on my Asics and set off for a run?

Which one is better? Cycling or running? Perhaps the best way to tackle this issue is to look at the salient points.


I suppose that running wins hands down when it comes to expense. All you have to do to go for a run is strip down to your kaks, pull on a pair of plimsolls and hit the road, whereas cycling requires something called a bicycle, which is available across a huge price range, from ‘mega cheap it must be rubbish’ to ‘it’s so expensive you’re an idiot’. That’s before we consider a helmet, gloves, brightly coloured cycling jersey, shorts with a chamois gusset (easy girls), cycling socks, cycle shoes and oh, the pedals required to fit the cycle shoes.

However, if you continue to run regularly in your kaks and plimsolls, you will blister so badly all your toenails will go black, your crotch will rot and your nipples will fall off. This may not happen, if in the interim time you’ve been arrested for running around in public in your kaks.

You will be required to go to a ‘specialist shop’ where somebody in a track suit will tell you whether you are an overpronator, underpronator or a neutral before removing a sizable amount of cash from your person for a lurid pair of cushioned running shoes. You will also be motivated to buy a garishly coloured polyester top, some running shorts – too short and

Cyclists - like runners, but with different silly shoes.

Cyclists – like runners, but with different silly shoes.

you look as if you’re hurrying to the nearest gay club; too long and the chafing will make you walk like you’ve pooed yourself for a couple of days. Personally, I wear long lycra shorts that are clingy, accompanied by a suitably long top to prevent any hint of indecent exposure. Well, at least until next month when my case comes up.

Then there are the running socks; you know the type – the white ankle type, only worn by middle aged men and St Trinian’s schoolgirls.



The Experience

I’ve had several discussions about the benefits of running over cycling. I realise that cycling is a healthy pastime that can help with fitness and weight loss. However, I like cycling because it means I can travel at least twice as far as I could when running. But is it better for my fitness? When you run, for example, you can’t struggle to the top of a hill and then sit back and look at the scenery as your legs freewheel down the hill. No, you have to keep your legs moving. Also, there’s the ‘refuelling’ issue. When running over a

considerable distance, you may consume a sports gel at a certain point. It’s unlikely that you’d stop halfway through your run at the pub and have a couple of pints and some chips, which seems to be the habit for a large number of cyclists. Our local pub is very popular with cyclists, most of who seem to spend longer in the bar than in the saddle. The stretching of lycra under the strain of a well-stocked beer belly is almost audible.


I’m afraid this one is a definite winner for running. I have a terrible record when it comes to punctures. I think that more often than not I get a puncture when out on a cycle. In fact, on my last jaunt, I had a total of 3 punctures in 24 miles. To combat this, I spent a lot of money on some ‘puncture proof’ tyres.

“They’re quite difficult to fit,” explained the bike shop owner, after taking my money. Cheers then.

I burst 2 inner tubes trying to fit them.

“Go to Halfords and get them to fit them,” Lady Barton St Mary suggested.

“Certainly not,” I replied haughtily, “I’m pretty sure I can fit a new inner tube.”

“Then I’d advise you to take your bike wheel, buy an inner tube and fit it in the car park. Any trouble and you can always buy more inner tubes.”

What did she think I was! A cack handed idiot?

After bursting two more inner tubes whilst sweating and swearing profusely in Halfords’ car park, I gave up and returned to the shop before I started to frighten passing children, who were staring wild eyed at the old man in the sodden shirt and oil stained suit shouting ‘Fuck my old boots’ at the top of his voice, as their parents hurried them away.

The 10 year old sales assistant calmly took my wheel from me and deftly fitted a new inner tube in 5 minutes.

“Why can’t I do that?” I asked him.

He tapped his nose and stroked his ‘yet to start shaving’ chin.

“Experience,” he nodded, sagely.

I bought another inner tube, just in case the bike shop owner was lying about the tyres.

Of course, this would never happen when out running. If I, or my weekend running partner Noel, were to run a 10 mile circuit, we wouldn’t pull up suddenly, saying, “Hang on! My trainers got a flat!” followed by a search around in a little bag for some patches, French chalk, rubber glue and a piece of sandpaper.

I haven’t even mentioned gears, brake cables or a chain break, which would be much more serious. I can’t think of a similarity when it comes to running, unless it’s:

“Hang on, Noel! My testicles have come loose! Have you got a spanner?”

This would be followed by half an hour of fiddling around with my undercarriage with the inevitable huffing and puffing and blackened hands from all the oil. Not that my privates are lubricated in that way.

Mind you, there are times when my knee goes twang, but if I let it rest for a few weeks, it gets better. If I just put my bike in the garage, it wouldn’t fix its own testicles. I mean chain.

Runner, with properly tightened nuts.

Runner, with properly tightened nuts.

So, what’s the verdict?

Running keeps me fit and thin(ner). Cycling is good fun.

They both have their advantages. Either way, I get to wear lycra, the choice of material for middle aged men training for a mid-life crisis.



About ruralspaceman

A man trapped inside a middle aged body still tries to be hip and trendy. Actually, no he doesn't. He says it as he sees it. as long as it's not too controversial. Living with his wife, Lady Barton St Mary, two children, Miss Katherine and Master Johnny in Randall Towers, he is constantly frustrated by the mechanisms of modern life and the issues raised by being the husband of a high flying executive and member of the aristocracy. All he wants is a quiet life and a full set of Deal or No Deal DVDs. Please help him.
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6 Responses to Legs or Pedals?

  1. thomas peck says:

    Mmmmm…? My physiotherapist recently told me to stop running (bad for the knees, and back). So I’m considering cycling. But your puncture story is slightly off-putting. What about swimming? Have you tried that? Not so much Lycra, admittedly… A deal breaker?

  2. The consultant who removed my anterior cruciate ligament and most of the cartilage from my right knee told me the only activities I could do were ‘straight line’ ones – running, cycling and swimming. I hated them all. Now I only hate swimming. Smelling of chlorine, not getting quite dry and suffering ear ache does not appeal to me, but I do like Bovril and Wagon Wheels.
    Physiotherapists know nothing. They are merely frustrated torturers waiting for a job with a dictatorship or secret government department.

  3. LillianC says:

    I can’t stop laughing. This has to be the funniest of your blog posts I’ve read yet. Bravo!

  4. Joan E Adam says:

    Your story is amazing, Rob!. I laughed a lot at your antics and can sympathise with your inability to decide on the best course of action? Having just had my left foot doctored by a very expert and sympathetic podiatry specialist, I can’t do much more than hobble at the moment, but fully intend to get back on my bike in a few weeks’ time.

    • Thanks Joan – good luck with the left foot. I suppose as a runner being a cyclist, it would be easy to go to the podiatrist and have a new foot fitted. Knowing my luck I’d end up with two left feet. Although if you saw me dance you’d think I already had two left feet.

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