Do you remember learning to ride a bike? For years I struggled so much with balancing, then one day I was round at a friends house on a playdate and somehow I just mastered it. I’ve still no idea how I did it, but things just clicked and the next thing I knew I was happily riding around her garden as if I’d been doing it for years.
There’s something about riding a bicycle that I just love. A sense of freedom as you ride along with the wind in your hair. Or more accurately nowadays, with the wind rushing past your aerodynamically designed cycling helmet! It may not have the same romantic image associated with it, but as someone whose life has been saved by the presence of a cycling helmet on their head it’s something I insist on these days.
I recall my first bike being blue in colour with some sort of a clown pictured on it, holding three balloons. On the back was a plastic storage box that I used to shovel sand into from our garden sandpit. Quite what I was going to do with all that sand I have no idea, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
As I got older that bike was replaced by a new one. A proper “big girls bike’. Or so I thought. Mainly because it looked just like one that I’d seen an older child riding on Grange Hill. I thought it made me look so cool and grown up. A royal blue frame with a white, leather effect, storage thing on the back. It was the bike that I did my cycling proficiency test on at primary school. I must have been about 9 years old at the time and once again the whole idea of doing cycling proficiency was something that made me feel so grown up. For years I’d seen the older children at school do it, with road markings drawn out on the school playground with chalk. I’d wanted to be those older children and finally it happened. I felt on top of the world. Well, I did until I fell off trying to turn left whilst doing the arm signals and ended up with a nasty cut on my knee!
Years later I’ve still got that cycling proficiency badge and it’s now sewn onto my camp blanket along with my swimming awards and Brownie and Girl Guide badges. It sort of symbolises one of those steps of childhood.
I fell out of love with cycling for a while though. A couple of years living in Cambridge, which is full of bikes, involved a cycling accident which shook my confidence massively and gave me a nasty case of long term concussion too. After that the only place I got onto a bike was when we visited Centre Parcs and I felt safe along paths where there were only pedestrians and other cyclist around.
Fast forward to now though and I’m back in love with cycling, and in particular Betty, my current bike. Bought a couple of years ago she gave me a sense of post little-kids-stage freedom that I really craved. I suddenly was able to just hop on Betty and cycle into town or to a friend’s house for a cup of tea. I could get around quicker and carry a load of stuff with me too in the basket on the front. Friends may have laughed as I cycled off to WI meetings with her basket stuffed full of a cake tin full of homemade biscuits and a bag full of my latest crochet efforts but I love that stereotypical image.
I also love the simplicity of cycling. The fact that it’s environmentally friendly and cheap too in terms of fuel costs. Then again, I say cheap, but actually cycling is one of those hobbies where if you so desired you could actually spend quite a lot of money on it. Technology advancements mean that there is so much cycling tech available now that you can easily spend a fortune if you bank balance allows. Helpfully Bike Discounts UK searches leading bike retailer’s databases, sorting them, and then showing you the best discounts out there. It scans nearly half a million products stretching from bikes themselves through to components, clothing and accessories, making it definitely the place to go to find yourself the best deal on that necessary cycling helmet!