Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Friday, June 10, 2011

On my bicycle

I saw a 70s bike propped up against the wall yesterday. Memories came flooding back. When I was a kid, the Raleigh Chopper was the bike to have, although I preferred the dainty Raleigh Twenty (pictured). I didn't have a bike until I was about 10. It was my brother's cast-off, and he had had it second hand.
I was very excited to take my bike to the Cycling Proficiency Scheme, where first of all a friendly PC was going to check our bikes for roadworthiness. Unfortunately mine fell at the first hurdle! I came home in tears, and then something brilliant happened. My parents weren't very well off, and we did something unheard of: we went to Halford's and they bought me a new bike. It was a Tri-Ang Golden Arrow, not a bit cool, but I loved it anyway. I managed to pass the cycling proficiency.
The years went by, and bikes and me were not mutually compatible. I tend to want to get off when there's too much traffic around. And in London you're constantly afraid someone will steal it.
Anyway, in 1999 I went to live in Munich or a short period, and having a bike there was a must. I went to a specialist shop and bought a beautiful ladies' bike for 500 marks, which was quite a lot of money then.
I would cycle along the Isar and go to the Englischer Garten on Sundays, or down to my friend's house. It was idyllic.
The bike came back to the UK with me but hasn't had many sorties since. A lot of cycling goes on in nearby Epping Forest but you need a mountain bike for that.
On our cycling holiday
Five years ago J dragged me and his equally unwilling daughter on a cycling holiday: five days in Shropshire / Wales.
It was a revelation, cycling along unclassified roads in the countryside with hardly any traffic. In the evening we would arrive at a hotel, our bags having been sent on by road, and it was very rewarding to have a bath and big dinner after cycling for 30 miles.
How about you and bikes?


Trevor Woodford said...

Good post Gail...For me Bikes have been a life time 'love affair'...from giving me freedom as a child, to a means of helping to improve my health following cancer..Bikes - a wonderful invention..!!


Sharon J said...

I was never allowed a bike as a child and was so envious of those that had them. When my kids were young we decided we'd all get bikes and go for long trips in the woods etc, alas it wasn't to be - I just couldn't keep my balance on a bike. I imagine a cycling holiday would be a lovely way of seeing the countryside :)

Anne @ The Frump Factor said...

I used to love cycling but haven't done it for years. I became too fearful of traffic! For one glorious year I was brave and did lots of mountain biking (on easy dirt trails), and I LOVED it, until I started to fear that, too. A cycling holiday does sound wonderful, though. And the bike in that photo is beautiful!

John said...

I remember well that cycling holiday, I love cycling and at that time was commuting 11 miles each way to the City every day so I was in good condition physically and mentally for a gentle daily 25 miles or so jaunt around Herefordshire and the Wye Valley, not so Gail and my daughter Rachel (15 at the time). We arrived to start the holiday and pick up our bikes in overcast conditions and light rain, well their faces were pictures of disquiet! We missed the lunch period at our first food stop of the holiday and had to eat crisps and nuts in the bar, so not even a hearty meal to quell the rebellious mood. The first nights accommodation and meal was a mixed bag but eventually they both got into the routine and we had some lovely peaceful rides on quiet country lanes with picnic breaks along the way at some beautifuls spots to take in the views and peaceful surroundings. Lest I take readers down a path of believing all was well at all times, its fair to say the down hill sections got better reception than anything approaching incline as the photo above of Gail coasting downhill taken from bikecam clearly shows.
I would suggest a cycling holiday with loved ones is very rewarding as both Gail and Rachel grew into the challenge day by day and by the end had it all off pat and in their stride. J

Scott said...

I'd been looking for ways to spend more quality time with my father as he gets older. I eventually found bribing him by buying him a pannier rack and a pair of bags as a B'day present did the trick. We now try to conquer one Scottish Island every year together, and we love it. Thoroughly recommend it. I wonder Gail, would you be interested in persuading more colleagues to cycle to work...I might be able to help, you know a connection of mine, Anna Guyer! Scott

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