The end of the affair?

Will my love of cycling return with the spring?

Will my love of cycling return with the spring?

The insistent buzz of my alarm woke me with a start. I reached out into the pre-dawn darkness to switch it off, then snuggled back down under my duvet. Getting out from the cosy warmth of bed has been proving a challenge of late, and on that particular morning my legs were having none of it. ‘C’mon guys,’ I urged them after five minutes had gone by. ‘You can do it.’ Nothing. Another few minutes went by with no sign of movement, so I made them an offer: ‘If you get me out of bed I won’t make you cycle into college today.’ That got their attention. Continue reading

Cycling, driving and convenience

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The Peak District – where I saw more people out on their bikes than I did in the centre of Sheffield

Given how long I’ve been living and cycling here, you’d think I’d be used to how many cyclists there are in London. Maybe it’s because I don’t get into central London very often – especially not during rush hour – that, whenever I do, the sheer mass of bikes flooding through the traffic always takes me by surprise.

I had the day off work recently. After visiting the Imperial War Museum for the afternoon, rush hour found me at the intersection of Waterloo Bridge and Aldwych. As I waited to cross the road, I watched in amazement at the phalanx of cyclists whizzing past. At every red light around me there were even more – at least twenty or thirty, maybe more, at each junction – bursting out of meagre advance stop boxes and snaking back through the traffic.

Compare that to my experience when I went up to Sheffield to deliver the trusty steed to his new retirement home. Continue reading

Bike dreams (part two)

Cityglide or Specialized - which is it to be?

Cityglide or Specialized – which is it to be?

In last week’s installment, the prospect of yet another expensive repair to the Trusty Steed led me to think about retiring him – and my idle daydreams of a beautiful new bike took a step closer to becoming reality

Ah, the beautiful Norco Cityglide 8…so pretty and yet so practical. Could this be my bike of dreams?

There was only one thing for it. I had to take it for a test ride.

In my experience, there are two possible outcomes to a test ride. One is that I fall hopelessly in love, and can think of nothing else but how wonderful the bike is and what a difference it will make to my life – with the inevitable consequence that I cannot rest until I’ve bought it. The other is that a bike I’ve spent days drooling over turns out to be rather more prosaic than I’d been imagining, and my dreams are left in tatters. Continue reading

Bike dreams

The ever faithful Trusty Steed - but is it time to retire him?

The ever faithful Trusty Steed – but is it time to retire him?

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have cheated on the Trusty Steed.

It started, as these things usually do, innocently enough. One quiet afternoon at work an email advertising Evans Cycles’ end of summer sale landed in my inbox. I had nothing pressing on my to do list at the time, so I clicked through.

As I glanced through the array of slightly-cheaper-than-usual bikes, one of them caught my eye. The Norco Cityglide 3 – a beautiful powder blue, three-speed town bike. Not a brand I’d ever heard of before, but never mind that. My head had been turned. Continue reading

I am woman, watch me charge

Tavistock Place cycle path - does it need a fast lane a pootle lane?

Tavistock Place cycle path – does it need a fast lane and a pootle lane?

It was early Saturday night, and I was heading out for the evening with a friend. He was over visiting from Mississippi, a hot and humid state where the pace of life is considerably more laidback than here in London. Heading up the High Street to catch the bus, I became aware that he was no longer by my side. He was, as I saw when I turned to look back, a good few paces behind me.

“C’mon!” I urged. “Can’t you walk a bit faster? We’re going to be late!”

“Can’t you walk a bit slower?” he replied as he finally caught up with me. “Why d’ya need to rush everywhere?”

I don’t rush, no matter what my friend might think. Continue reading

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

This is getting to be a regular occurrence

This is getting to be a regular occurrence

I came off my bike again on Thursday evening – and I mean properly came off. No getting my trousers caught, or skidding down the ramp at work for me this time.

No, those were just practice runs ahead of the main event.

I was on my way home from work when it happened. I’d taken a detour to stop off at Sainsbury’s in Camden, and I was heading down Parkhurst Road towards the junction with Holloway Road when I very suddenly came off my bike.

It all happened so quickly I had no time to react at all. One second I was cycling along, thinking about dinner and getting in from the rain, and the next second I was on the ground. Continue reading

Happy New Year

The return to reality can sometimes be painful

I survived the return to reality – but only just

I swing my leg over the saddle and nudge my front wheel into the space between two parked cars. Glancing up and down the street, I’m struck by the silence. No cars scraping over the speed bumps. No heels clicking along the pavement. No front doors being slammed. No builders preparing for the day’s work.

A thought enters my head: have I made a mistake? Is it really today I go back to work? Should I, in fact, still be in bed? Continue reading

No shower? No problem

Don't have one of these at your work? No problem!

Don’t have one of these at your work? No problem!

The shower at my workplace has recently been deep cleaned. I’m not suggesting that this has never happened before, but it was enough of a novelty that Facilities put up signs weeks before the event, alerting us to its imminent occurrence and asking us to remove any belongings.

I haven’t ventured into the shower room for literally years, so I have no belongings to retrieve. It was the mass of other people’s stuff that put me off – smelly, unwashed towels and festering t-shirts hanging from every available corner. I’m sure I once saw a pair of underpants in there.

It wasn’t a shower room you’d ever want to have a shower in, so I didn’t. Continue reading

Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?

An increasingly common occurrence now the nights are drawing in?

An increasingly common occurrence now the nights are drawing in?

One extra hour in bed. One measly little extra hour in bed. That’s hardly adequate compensation for six months of having to cycle home in the dark, is it? If it’d been an extra hour in bed every day things might be different. But it’s not, so they’re not.

I pride myself in not being a fair weather cyclist – I cycle to work day in, day out, all year round, in almost all weathers. Yet it’s always around this time of year – when the clocks have gone back and winter is just around the corner – that the temptation to abandon my trusty steed in favour of the Overground is at its strongest.

As if the thought of the long dark ride home weren’t enough to put me off, there’s also the small matter of tomorrow’s predicted storm to contend with.

My resolve could do with all the help it can get right now. Continue reading

Cycle chic? Mais non

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside - I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Yes, this really is what I look like on my bike (helmet aside – I now have a lovely purple Bern one)

Dear reader. I have a confession to make.

Almost every day I see lots of well-dressed women on their bikes. Women in leggings and short skirts, in skinny jeans, in peg leg trousers – even in leopard print dresses. Women riding rattling old road bikes, traditional uprights and shiny new step-throughs. Women, in short, who are the embodiment of cycle chic.

You may think, from reading this blog, that I’m part of this stylish sisterhood.

Alas, dear reader. You would be wrong. Continue reading