by Lesu Miah
I’m Muhammad ‘Lesu’ Hamzah a 40 year old banking professional who’s had enough of being unfit – and I intend to embark on a journey to improve my health and well-being by taking up cycling!
My family are convinced it’s a mid life crisis and are expecting me to upgrade to a motorbike within months which did remind of a really cool Kawasaki Ninja that I had my eye on a few years back! Joking aside the reasons for this challenge are not funny. I know from experience that my reasons are shared by thousands of people my age (even youngsters) especially for those from the Asian/Muslim community.
In person I look relatively heathy but…I’m 1.5 stones overweight, a type 2 Diabetic (the 1 without insulin!) I have also battled to keep my high cholesterol levels down. For a man who’s hit 40 it’s NOT a good combination, and on a community level, has lead to many health problems and deaths. I have a young family and I owe it to them and ultimately to Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala to look after this amaanah that I have been blessed with. I know I must work hard and earn but I also must look after my health. This is the one area where I and many others in our community have been neglecting for years and I decided to record and share my journey through this blog in-order to:
A) Provide me with extra motivation to keep going when the going gets tough and…
B) To help, support and inspire those in a similar situation. You may even get some comedic relief when you witness some monumental failings and mistakes!
Amongst those practising a religion, those of a Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or Sikh faith are more likely to be physically active. In contrast, activity levels are lowest amongst those who practise Islam.Sports England – Active Lives Adult Survey
So why cycling and why AICC?
I’ve asked myself the same question. The short version is, I’ve tried the Gym but it’s not for me. I grew up quite active playing a host of sports -predominantly football which helped keep me fit – but due to injuries I had to stop. After taking part in sports, the atmosphere of a gym and weights was like Kryptonite for me.
Due to a knee injury, running was out of the question which left me with swimming and cycling. Now, living in Burnley, places to go for a swim are limited and again, the options available were not to my liking which left me with cycling. I’ve been asked, pushed and prodded my a friend from AICC to take this up for a few years now and although it seemed the best option, I’ve always managed to talk myself out of it. If I’m honest this was mainly due a few factors such as, fear of the road and accidents, what I thought was the high costs of the bikes and generally my perception of an elitist culture around it cycling.
The game changer for me was the Coronavirus outbreak. I was working from home, my activity levels had dropped massively and I noticed changes to my body and a further decline in my general health and well being – all within this short 2 month period. Getting out of breath very quickly while doing mundane household tasks whilst playing with my son was the final straw, that kick up the backside that I needed to get into action. I needed to do something to get healthy and the more I’ve thought about it, the more cycling appealed to me. Just myself, the bike and the road. I have seen some amazing transformations amongst friends and colleagues who have taken up cycling and this is where AICC come into it.
I’ve been aware of AICC since it’s inception as a good friend of mine was the founder. I’d seen the amazing work they did with their rides and of course the money they raised for charity. I found the camaraderie and brotherhood they had were similar to my football days. The support networks for new riders that they set-up sound amazing is a real credit to them. It wasn’t long before an opportunity came up where a mutual friend was selling his old Carrera road bike and I snapped it up!
The challenge I’m embarking on is called the ‘0-60 in three months challenge’. This is because based on my current shocking fitness level, I really am starting from zero and I’m looking to build up to a 60 mile cycling challenge within 3 months!
I’ll be posting my updates weekly – all raw, warts an’ all! Please follow this blog or even better, join me on this challenge. I pray Allah makes this easy for me and places barakah in this endeavour for myself and others who take this up.