Gently cajoled into returning to cycling, The Reluctant Cyclist will be recounting her adventures and misadventures over the next few months.
In which I completely fail to get on a bike
I can ride a bike. I am sure of this, though I was also sure I could swim and only found out the fallacy of that idea when I entered a pool as an adult for the first time since I was at primary school, and promptly sunk.
I am sure I can ride a bike, though. I have a small silver badge somewhere to prove that I am proficient at cycling. However, although I live in the city of bikes (Cambridge) and own a bike (purple), it has moved houses more times than it has been ridden. I would class myself as a rider, but my rides have four legs and are prone to stop and eat grass unexpectedly.
I remembered recently while driving (warm, covered, Radio 4, what’s not to like?) in the countryside, that I used to cycle along the same road twice daily, to a colleague’s house in the next village from where I was driven the 20 miles to work.
I must have ridden a good 6 miles a day without thinking about it, but now, over a decade later, I can barely conceive of cycling from my house into the centre of town. This, even though parking in Cambridge out-prices London and you have to watch out for tourists on bikes, usually going the wrong down one-way streets. Even this has not made me clean the cobwebs off my bike (don’t know what type, I just remember that it’s purple) and take up the pedals again.
Recently, though, I have developed a need to ride a bicycle. Not for my own good, you understand, but to pay back a bike-maniac friend who came horse-riding with me. So I agreed to go bike-riding as payback. This was two months ago. Apparently my bike is barely capable of the task of riding, despite its delightful colour.
I rather assumed that if it had handles, a seat and two wheels that it would be up to it, but apparently my riding experience will be impaired if I ride a bike of the age and disposition of my current steed, so I awaited the loan bike with trepidation, if not quite downright fear at what I would be expected to achieve on quite such a honed and toned mechanical marvel. And so the chosen day approached.
Not being aware that ‘not wearing a helmet’ was an option as an adult, I purchased the cheapest one which didn’t make me look too much like a tit and awaited my first excursion. I considered the possibility of Lycra but the consideration didn’t last very long, thank goodness, for the good of everyone concerned. But I felt ready – really, how much hassle could it be?
And then it snowed.
No one can be expected to go riding in the snow, especially not a beginner, so I remain virgin territory, in cycling terms (discounting the folly of youth, which I’m sure we all do).
The reluctant cyclist