Originally from the UK, Margaret and Matthew Hindmoor currently live in Dundalk, Co. Louth. These grandparents have found the Covid pandemic very challenging, as they haven’t physically been with their five small grandchildren, who live in the UK, since 2019. At the end of February 2020, Matthew brought COVID-19 home from a business trip in Spain. Like everything, they shared the illness but thankfully neither of them needed to be hospitalised.
They currently work as volunteers for an international charity as project managers, and when restrictions were introduced, they were advised, like many others, to work from home. As a staff team, they were actively encouraged to take advantage of daylight hours by engaging in some form of healthy exercise.
Matthew had an interest in cycling from a young age and did some mountain biking with his children as they grew up. When the pandemic started, he dragged a bicycle out of the shed and started going out for rides to clear his head of the stresses of being in lockdown. Margaret noticed how this was helping him with his outlook on life, his weight and general health, and so asked if she could try it out. So out came a spare bike that he set up for her.
In an attempt to encourage Margaret further, Matthew accessed an online training programme which helps you go from zero to 30km in 8wks. Starting with just a 15-minute cycle around the housing estate where they live, Margaret caught the bug and developed a real interest in cycling, as she recalls “each time we went out, we increased the distance and time, and then added in some inclines, all within our 5km radius”.
Matthew remembers searching online and coming across the AXA Community Bike Rides initiative, and suggested that they both join to record their rides and share their joy of cycling - “we liked the idea of planning the week ahead and booking the rides. When the email confirmations and the reminders arrive these provide impetus to go out even in the winter weather!”
They are keen to highlight the advantages of cycling with someone in your bubble. “It gives you the opportunity to exercise safely together. We can encourage each other to go out on a ride when one of us is perhaps feeling a little low or less enthusiastic! It gives us the opportunity to chat about different matters and to enjoy nature as we cycle through the countryside. We both agree that once you go out and cycle, we always return home happy and in a better frame of mind”.
They try to cycle for at least an hour two to three days during the week around lunchtime, and then depending on the weather, they look to increase this to up to a two hour ride at the weekend - “we try to choose different routes to stay within our 5km boundary and ride them in both directions just to mix it up”.
They are actively encouraging other couples to get involved – “we would say just go for it and join the site! We like the fact there is no needless advertising and the site is simple to use. We recommend couples book some rides and encourage one another to reach sensible goals. Using the AXA Community Bike Rides booking system means you receive emails to remind you that you have a ride to complete. This will help to encourage and motivate you!”
Looking at the next few months, Matthew highlights some clear goals they have in mind - “Margaret is keen to reach her goal of 60km in a day. We are also planning to introduce day rides next time we go on holiday, whenever that will be! For now, we have set ourselves the challenge of spending our wedding anniversary day in April, out on a longer cycle route. Hopefully some of the restrictions will have eased by then and we will be able to travel that little bit further”.