Saturday, 26 January 2013

How I Fell off my Bike

Not literally but how I got out of the habit of using my bike to get about and couldn't get back into it. Think of it as an introduction to myself and my perspectives.

It happens to so many of us, that we regularly cycle as children then “grow” out of it as adults.
Until I left school I cycled everywhere: to school, to the shops, to my Saturday job, to the swimming baths and any other activities that were farther than a five minute walk.  During the holidays I would make 30 mile round trips to visit my grandparents or 70 mile round trips to the beach and occasional  longer trips over several days.  Time and distance were no barrier.

Then I learned to drive, meaning I could get places more quickly.  The trip to the beach would only take three quarters of an hour instead of almost three hours and I would have more time to paddle. Except that never happened because I didn't have a car; I kept cycling for a nearly year after passing my driving test.

My downfall wasn't the motor car but moving away to study.  For too many years I lived within five minutes walk of my college, the pub and the supermarket and ten minutes walk from the town centre and the railway station if I wanted to go further afield.  Everything was close and I didn't need to cycle.

Fast forward a few more years and I got a real job in the big city, but still living 10 minutes walk from the railway station with a good frequent service morning and evening, it never even crossed my mind to cycle, even though it was only 8 miles.  I had cycled into the city once but the traffic was very fast and busy and certainly not very inviting, especially coming into it after a lengthy break.

More recently, I moved to the big city, around five miles from work. There were fewer amenities close at hand but we did have a bus service. The bus could be unreliable so I did consider cycling and went as far as giving it a go. Not very successfully. I arrived at work drenched in sweat - the years without cycling had taken their toll on my fitness and it wasn't the most comfortable way spend a day in the office. My colleagues' predictions of near certain death were hardly the encouragement I needed.

To summarise, I initially stopped cycling due to a lack of need, walking was more convenient, but I didn't get back in to it due to a fear of heavy traffic, lack of fitness, discomfort and discouragement of my peers.  Some of this may be familiar to you, perhaps you started driving instead or using public transport.

In the next post, I'll describe how I managed overcome these obstacles and get back in the saddle. A journey I'm still making.

Top: Part of my first world tour of Scotland tackling some steep single track roads through the highlands.
Above: Later crossing the Forth Road Bridge on the same tour.

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