Adventures in cycling

For quite some time I’ve been going on about getting a bike and then doing nothing about it. My boyfriend has recently starting cycling into work and the extra spring that’s put in his step has inspired me to finally do something about it. I’ve been saving up the money that I would normally have spent on my travel card every month while I’ve been off work so that’s given me the cash to pay for it  (I am trying not to think about the fact that I would spend the equivalent of a new bike every two months on getting to work….).

I am very excited about my bike. I’m pleased that I’ve managed to find one that is pretty enough that I like it but no so pretty that it is a thief magnet. I would loooooove to have a pretty Pashley but a) I can’t even nearly afford it and b) it would get nicked in about 5 minutes.

I haven’t really cycled since I was a teenager so I am very rusty. I needed to cycle the bike back from the shop in Stoke Newington which I was very scared about to be honest. My boyfriend kindly humored me while I checked I could actually still ride a bike and I figured out a quietish route to get me home unscathed.

I learnt a few things on my first tentative ride:

a) I am frightened of right turns
b) cars hate cyclists
c) I don’t like going very fast
d) there are about a million one way streets near my house none of which I’ve ever noticed before
e) not being able to drive means that I don’t really know the rules of the road. Although I’m sure it’s somewhere in the back of my brain from when I passed my theory test when I was 17….

however on the plus side

a) I didn’t look as stupid in a cycle helmet as I thought I would
b) I’m not as unfit as I thought
c)It is possible to cycle with my handbag
d) it’s fun

Clearly I need to put quite a bit of work in before I start zipping around central London. So, in the mean time I’m going to practice on quite roads in north london (and hope that I don’t chance upon any riots while I’m doing it….) TFL is rubbish in many ways (tube closures every five minutes, daylight robbery for a travel card…etc) but one thing they do very well is cycle maps.  They are very handily marker with quite roads, cycle paths and bits where you can’t cycle.

Armed with my map, and thinking I’d memorised the way I set off today for a little trip down to Stokey to buy some dye. My first problem came when I realised that the road I was planning to turn left onto out of my road is actually a one way street in the wrong direction, oops. Walking my bike down to the road before I could actually start cycling wasn’t the greatest start but I didn’t let it put me off. Once I got going my terrible sense of direction reared its ugly head and of course I had no idea where I was going next. However, despite lots of stops to check my map, one crossing that was too frightening to attempt and sneaky walk of the bike over the crossing I made it and I was rather proud.

The next challenge was to lock it up properly. Given that almost everyone I know who cycles in London has had a bike nicked at some point or another (one had hers nicked the day after she bought it and before she put it on her insurance….very upsetting…it was a fancy expensive triathlon bike with cleats and everything) I am naturally anxious. However I’ve got it insured and brought a massive heavy lock. For once in my life I actually read the instructions and figured out the best place to lock it. In spite of this I was surprised and relieved to find that it was still there when I got out of the shop!

I’m very excited about my cycling adventures to come and hope that I get better and more confident quickly so that I can take my bike out a little further afield.


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