This is my bike. It’s no ordinary bike, it’s the first bike I have ever purchased and it’s the first bike I have ridden – by using the pedals and everything!
Why is this news? Well like 30% of the population until last weekend I was unable to ride a bike. I never had any interest in bikes, I found them cumbersome, boring and didn’t see the point. I used to walk everywhere with my parents and found bikes to be an inconvenience.
That’s not to say my parents didn’t try. I had several lessons, a bike of my own but simply no interest. I am sure my school friends would recount how they used to hang around on their bikes and I simply did not join in. I probably missed out on certain activities but it has never troubled me.
To be honest cyclists used to annoy me just as much as runners #coughs.
So what’s changed? Well I think the running has helped and this year has been a bit of a year of breakthroughs for me. I am fitter than I have ever been, I am more confident in my abilities and I have realised I am not afraid to try new things or more importantly to fail – the running has given me the confidence.
When we booked our trip to Canada Richard mentioned he would love to cycle around Stanley Park in Vancouver and this was the catalyst to get my ass on a saddle.
It hasn’t been easy – trying to learn on Richards bike in the garden was troublesome and it put me off for a while.
Thankfully the government identify this gap in ability in the population and as a sustainability action they offer every council money to teach adults and children to cycle. I, like everyone else is entitled to 2 hours of free lessons.
Last Saturday I turned up at Colchester Leisure Centre feeling very nervous but excited that they may be able to help.
The instructors put us at ease (there were four of us in the lesson) and found a bike to fit me.
They simply took us through a 5 step plan which had us walking, striding, balancing, pedalling and cycling around a flat playing field. I was completely amazed and overjoyed when 29 minutes later I was cycling on my own. I had made it! 39 years later and I could cycle! I didn’t know why I had put it off so long and couldn’t help but grin for the remainder of the day.
I had 30 minutes left to lesson one so used this to practice turning and to get as much advice from the instructors as I could.
Bike gears, inclines and coping with traffic are all alien to me at present but I have kept up the practice and have been using Richards bike this week to get myself acquainted with riding.
Whilst at the lesson one of the instructors mentioned Re-Cycle. They are a not for profit charity who take in old, unwanted and unused bikes and refurbish them.
Once they have enough to fill a shipping container they send them to rural communities in Africa for the locals to use.
In order to gain funds to ship the containers they sell on a number of the bikes and that’s where my funds went today.
I purchased a Giant Boulder 510 which originally retailed for $400 and I bought it for £55. The bike is a couple of years old and it is perfect for me to perfect my skills as a new cyclist.
The engineer at the warehouse was very friendly and recommended the bike amongst the others as it was the best fit for my height and had the highest quality brakes, frame etc.
He allowed me to ride the bike around the car park and I was happy with the weight and the size, the engineer adjusted the gears for me, explaining how they worked and I was sold!
He also gave me some tips on how to remove the front wheel so that it fitted in the car.
I doubt I would have got such a service from the swanky cycle shops I was browsing in London this week (and they wanted at least £400 for a bike!).
I am very proud of my new bike and happy that my funds have helped some remote community in Africa. Who’d have thought deciding to learn to ride would have such a global impact?
I have my second lesson next week which concentrates on cycling in smaller spaces and along cycle paths in a group – my aim is that I want to turn up on my bike.
I cannot thank the tutors enough, they gave me the confidence to get on the saddle and ride in under half an hour!
When I finished the first lesson I was so elated I called Richard and then my parents. My dad had to sit down when he heard the news! 😃
Richard and I popped into Colchester today and had a browse around the shops. I found the local cycle store (which until today, never knew existed) and thanks to the friendly staff, I bought a cycle helmet and a bike lock.
My aim now is to get out as much as I can, even if only for ten minutes a day and get myself better acquainted with my bike.
I did go for a ride this evening and bravely took myself on some loops around the estate. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s a major step for me which enabled me to get used to cornering, cycling uphill, coasting downhill and learning to stop. This is something I need to grasp as I can panic and hit the brakes too hard. A couple of times I nearly went over the top of the bike but I am sure I will get there.
Ultimately I am enjoying my new hobby and I hope to be proficient enough so that Richard and I can hire some bikes in Vancouver.