Re: Cycling, and Recycling


What connects my title topics to creative writing?

As a teenager I was a keen cyclist and would be content to go on a ride alone, or with my best friend. Since my childhood I’ve valued solitude as much as companionship. While I spent time alone, away from regular surroundings my mind was free. The time to let my thoughts roam provided me with an unequalled exhilaration.


bike-shots-plus-025Move forward fifty years. My trusty steed of recent times has been a re-cycled mountain bike I bought in a charity shop a couple of years ago. Function ruled over appearance, but I gave it a re-spray for good measure (from red/blue to black). During the spring as I pedalled to work I recalled how I felt all those years ago when cycling far from my usual haunts.

In the summer of this year I treated myself to a new road-racer. I’ll admit the idea behind the purchase was a two-pronged attack.

I yearned for the sensation of freedom a long cycle ride gave me, but I also wanted a regular exercise to help shift a few unwanted pounds. A change of diet was underway, but to achieve a lasting result takes more than extra fruit and less chocolate.


bike-shots-plus-033How have things shaped up?

Since July I’ve re-discovered the joy of cycling solo. Not many folk want to join a person who sets off at six o’clock in the morning for a twenty-mile ride, but the other benefits add to my contentment. The two bonuses are worlds apart.

I’ve lost 25lbs which leaves me at a personally acceptable 10st 12lbs (152lbs). For perspective, I’m 5ft 8ins tall.

On each ride I rehash and mentally rebuild one or two scenes or sequences from my latest work in progress. I replay a passage often enough to recall it clearly when I return to my keyboard.

In business terminology I’ve found a win-win situation re: cycling, and recycling.


How does recycling work as a creative writer?

A good writer will not throw out an idea, but store it to be retrieved at a later date. It might be a character profile, a sentence, a paragraph, an opening line, a title, or the main points of a story which isn’t gelling as required. Whatever the aforementioned item might be, it can be brought back to life at any time.

When a writer creates an article for a magazine or newspaper, the creative material is capable of being used with another magazine, thus increasing earnings from the same research. The effort required after the initial article is in the rehashing of the words as the ‘piece’ is prepared for recycling.



 Do I have a favourite way of recycling a story?

Yes. It took me many attempts at reviving certain stories before a simple solution hit home. In many hours of reading text books and other people’s work I saw how a tale could be affected by the point of view.

1.  How the story is told might be the difference between a good story, and a great story.

2.  Whoever tells the story has a crucial bearing on how it comes across to the reader.

For example:

A story told in first person creates a ‘me and you’ intimacy between character and reader.

The intimacy is intensified if the narrator is the main character and creates a personal introduction early. Empathy between reader and narrator evolves rapidly.


What’s my favourite recycling project?

A Life of Choice - Part OneA Life of Choice is without doubt my best example of recycling a writing project. The story is loosely based on my personal experiences during military service, and has undergone more recycling than water in a space station.

My career in khaki ended in 1992, but the intention to tell the story occured before I handed in my uniform. The urge to relive it through writing was strong. Unfortunately, what wasn’t as strong was the requisite writing skills. Undaunted, I put together hundreds of passages and snippets of long-remembered conversations.

In 1996 my working title was ‘1001 Short, War Stories’.**

I had no knowledge of point of view, back-story, info-dumping, formatting, or … well, you get the idea.

I had no serious intention of producing a tale for anybody other than me and my family. As it happens, neither my wife, nor our son (now 33), enjoy reading fiction.


How have I brought cycling and recycling together with my favourite project?

As I write about a particular time period from my past I listen to music of the era. I’ve found inspiration from a single track, and on occasion a ‘sound’ like: The Sound of Philadelphia, the New Romantics, Synthesisers, the 80’s. The idea works when at my keyboard, but is equally useful when on the road.

Prior to my ride each morning I get into my cycling outfit, but before setting off, I listen to a single piece of music from a time period on which I’m working. The most recently heard music is rememberd naturally.A Life of Choice - Part Two


Many people think of recycling as a task. They consider what they might be able to recycle, and a lot of materials are simply discarded, because it’s easier. Laziness is a human trait.

Writers are a breed apart in a lot of ways, and recycling should be a major ingredient of our lives – at least with regard to our literary intentions. We tend not to give up, and those who know their craft will hold onto written material which another person might consider meaningless.


As always, any comments are welcome, and I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and reasoning.


A Life of Choice – Part One, and A Life of Choice – Part Two are available on Amazon now. A Life of Choice – Part Three will be published by the end of November 2016.

A Life of Choice - Part ThreeThe final two parts of the tale will be published in the spring and summer of 2017 respectively.


**1,001 Short War Stories has never been more than my earliest attempts at creative writing. I recently produced the cover seen above to support this post.

10 thoughts on “Re: Cycling, and Recycling

  1. I was a keen cyclist in my younger days. My first job required me to cycle20 miles each way and combined with all the sports I played I was as fit Ada butchers dog.. Fond memories.. Thanks for that piece Tom – enjoyed it ☘🎈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Patrick. You must have been on top form in those 20-each way days! Unlike you mate, I never really played any sports as a youngster. In my schooldays, unless you shone – you were shunned. 🙂
      I made up for it during my military career, and after leaving I continued to run long distance for a few years until a knee injury stopped me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My broken bits restrict me to walking these days – loved long distance and even squeezed in a marathon.. All a
        Long time ago now.. I do miss it but for a wee lad my chosen sport was basketball so between that and running my knees and ankles are good for nothing these days. But if a crock but hey could always be worse 😀☘🎈good to hear from You as always Tom

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Julia Lund

    Hi Tom, once again you amaze me with your go-for-it, never-give up approach. Well done on your achievements, both physical and writing-wise. And remind me to tell you my cycling stories one day – I’ve never covered myself in glory when it comes to anything that requires balance …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks Julia. I have to admit as a youngster I couldn’t skip or stand up in a pair of roller skates (unlike 90% of my classmates). I learned to skip later in life when taking part in serious training for other things, but I’ve never dared to ride wheels smaller than the one I use now.
      I’d love to hear your cycling stories. In ‘A Life of Choice’ the character mirrors my slow progress into sport and fitness. It’s one of the few areas which leans heavily on fact.
      I hope all is going well with your next tale. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 6am? Lazy bones. 🙂 I do my rides at 4:45am. Of course, I’m so tired I can’t see straight by 10pm. Nice bike! I find my morning rides give me a chance to get my brain going and chew on bits of writing or programming.

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    1. Hahaha. Thanks for dropping by, and I’d love to emulate your ride time Eric – respect! If I got up to ride at that time my wife would have me put away. I agree with the feeling an early ride gets the grey matter working, and I can only imagine how you rehash things if you’re thinking of programming and suchlike – beyond me. 😀

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  4. I would be more than happy to ride with you, Tom (unlikely, given the separation). I prefer to ride early, and when I was riding regularly, 22-32 miles were my favorite routes.

    Thanks for the insight on characters and their relationship with the reader. I also appreciate your thoughts on recycling material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan and thanks for dropping by. Yes, I’m with you on distance. I ride 20 miles before breakfast Tue – Sat. My 30-mile ride is on a Sunday and Monday is my rest day.
      The recycling of our material is one of our greatest assets. 😀

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