At this time of year when the weather's not quite so sunny and warm I like to try out other sporting activities to jazz up the autumn (in between doing cyclo cross races).
When I can get to them I do cross country running races, and in previous years I've also taken to playing hockey.
These are all fun competitive activities but they require a bit of training and commitment. I also feel obliged to keep the team captain happy and embrace the cause in the name of helping the club to that much wanted win. Don't believe the captain when she says it's the taking part that counts!
So sometimes it's nice to just do a physical activity that is completely non-committal, without any particular goal, without any worry about performing for the team and no awkwardness about letting the team down - just something fun.
So, I found the answer - rollerskating. It was my sister, Jacqueline, who told me about it. She's been going to the sessions in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoons, so one day I thought I would join her. Not having any skates I thought I would hire some. But I quickly worked out it would be more economical to buy some.
So, this was me about about an hour after I bought some rollerskates (the term they use is quads) from a shop near Lancaster Gate in London. I'm of the generation of folks who thinks skates means quads - none of these new-fangled rollerblade things. Even though Hyde Park was at the end of the road there was no way I was going to risk skating on a public thoroughfare.
Once in the park I donned the skates and boy did it feel strange on my legs. I used to skate a lot when I was 14 or 15 years old - thirty years ago! I quickly realised that my legs had completely forgotten what to do! So it took me an hour to get from the entrance of Hyde Park to the point where you see me in the photo. One hour of tottering around on wheels swinging my arms around Frank Spencer style, just to cover 500m! Where's the double-decker bus to hold on to when you need it?!
I am clearly still learning the technique. Passers-by automatically knew they would have to give way to me (rather than me give way to them) when they saw me approaching. And thank goodness there were railings to hold on to! Shortly after the above photo was taken the path went downhill, I panicked at the speed, lost all confidence and crashed to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Thank goodness for wrist guards!
I eventually caught up with Jacqueline after another hour, and a few mini tantrums at the long-suffering Higg. Thankfully the area where they were was smooth, flat, and there were park benches around when it got a bit much for my muscles. My sister gave me a few helpful tips but I only made tiny improvements that afternoon.
Even though I was pretty rubbish it didn't matter. It was all good fun. I look forward to learning a bit more, though skating in Macclesfield may be a baptism of fire. With the various hills I will struggle to find flat areas, so will have to take out extra insurance!
Any tips on how to stay upright gracefully would be most welcome!