I had warned R that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d ridden a bike. Ok that’s not strictly true, there was the tandem we took out on my birthday the year before last, (which I crashed), and I vaguely recall cycling in Centre Parcs as an adult, although whether that trip was five or ten years ago now I really can’t be certain. Anyway, the point is, I’ve not ventured beyond the stationary bikes in the gym for quite some time now. Moreover, anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing me behind the wheel of a car, go-kart or quad bike will know that me and vehicles that require steering just don’t get on all that well.
But despite all of this, the thing is, I really do want to cycle more regularly. It’s a great low-impact exercise, it allows you to get outside (my favourite thing) and you can cover some serious distances in a relatively short amount of time when compared to running. In the back of my mind I have this romantic vision of me and R cycling along country lanes, picnic hamper at my handlebars, bathed in the sunshine of an endless summer, a slightly unrealistic dream, I know. And, of course, there is the idea that all that stands between me and a triathlon is the bike element. And it’s not that I want to enter a triathlon necessarily right now, but I want to know that, should the mood take me, I could.
Anyway, it was with all of this in mind that we took the opportunity of this weekend’s sunny Saturday to take out some Boris bikes and cycle in Battersea Park.
I had requested that my first foray into cycling didn’t involve any roads and, as it instantly became apparent, this was for the best. On the bike I felt a lot further from the road than I can remember feeling, and I struggled to reach the ground when I stopped (possibly we should have lowered the seat a little more!).
As it happened, we were not the only ones to have the idea of cycling on that sunny Saturday, and the park was full of children meandering wildly, other people negotiating the clunky Boris bikes and more adept cyclists whizzing past us as we went. And then there were of course the dog walkers, pram pushers and pedestrians all trying to share the same pathways.
Although not the pastoral idyll that I had initially imagined, after a couple of laps around the park I felt comfortable enough to let R ride alongside me rather than in front, and I was happy to skirt around obstacles rather than stopping in front of them.
It seemed crazy as I cycled regularly as a child, but it took some serious laps to get my confidence back and I was still a fair way from feeling I could tackle the London road system.
Still it was lots of fun and I felt a certain pride and satisfaction as the rain came and we swapped our bikes for drinks in a nearby pub while we waited for the downpour to cease.
I’ll be back in the saddle again soon I don’t doubt; it’s just like riding a bike you know.