Regular readers will know that I was thinking of getting a bike a while back. Astute regular readers will know I got one (from Lovello‘s in Berkhamsted). I did do a tiny amount riding when I was a kid, and I’ve even been on a mountain biking break once. Nevertheless, I was nervous about coming a cropper on the roads, and am still learning.
For those who want to know, the bike is a hybrid, which means it is not an out and out road bike, but does work away from the tarmac as well. Good job too, given the state of the roads around Berkhamsted, where potholes are a continual problem. I’m using it on the roads mostly, although I expect to cycle to nearby Tring or Hemel Hemstead on canal tow-paths at some point.
Before I got this bike, I’d picked up a series of second hand rusty contraptions from eBay or friends for £20 a time. I was under the impression that I was terribly unfit and not built for riding a bike up a hill, and so gave up. With the new bike, full tires and a few gears, suddenly I can now whiz from the station at the bottom of the hill in Berkhamsted to my home at the top near the woods in no time.
I’m still nervous on the bike, though. I find myself tensely holding on and hovering over the seat. When I notice, I tell myself to relax and sit down, otherwise my balance is a little edgy. I’ve already fallen off once, skidding round a corner in the wet going to fast. Thankfully the only involvement of a car was a nearby driver asking if I was alright. Of course I was, I said. Took me a couple of weeks to recover from the painfully swollen wrist, but I didn’t let the driver know that.
The bike is definitely a better mode of transport than car for one person to make short journeys around town. It’s quicker and gets you moving, and you don’t have parking problems. And of course it’s zero carbon.
It’s not as clear-cut for longer journeys or those where you need to carry a load, such as shopping or the family. There are those that commute between towns with pedal power and cart their food and children around in contraptions on the back, and those people do tend to be very fit and healthy. I do see myself doing that sort of thing at some point, but I’ll need to feel a bit more confident and a bit more fit beforehand.
Using a bike rather than car for short journeys is very logical and sensible. I would hesitate to say that the reason not more of us do so is because of fear and that intangible comfort barrier. That’s what stopped me. I can now honestly say that my life is better for taking the plunge, as I have more time and am getting fitter.
What’s stopping you?