It all started with a blue bike and a pink helmet.
It was in May last year when I collected the bike I had ordered, a blue folding bike and a pink helmet to be on the safe side. Someone somewhere had said (or written, I cannot remember) that drivers were more likely to be considerate of a cyclist if they could see it was a women they were overtaking. I choose the pink helmet for a reason.
The last time I had ridden a bike on a road I was about 10 or 11, with my father and brother, I was nervous then. Here I was aged 35 about to get back on a bike with the motivation to ride to work, not using pavements, using instead those big scary traffic filled, intimidating things called roads..gulp.
I could so easily have given in to temptation, that adrenaline rush of nerves as I set off on my first test run (just around the block, so no biggie), all the while trying to think of how to follow the rules of the road. I should clearly point out here that I cannot drive, so my knowledge comes from 35 years worth of being a pedestrian or passenger.
So I’m going, it’s quite quiet on the roads, that’s good. Breathing a little easier I get into the swing of things, but still not sure if I should be in this primary or secondary position on the road. A taxi soon lets me know I should be in secondary (according to the taxi!), curb hugging. A beeb of the horn and off it goes past.
I don’t let this get to me though, I continue and keep going, three left turns (right equivalent in USA) in total. Nice and easy, I make it home happy overall, feeling positive.
My commute is 3.5 miles each way, the folding bike seemed perfect for such a distance, even now I still think it did a great job. More or less set up fine, the gears were not indexed properly, I could get 1,2,5 and 6ish. My first week cycling to work was a huge learning curve, I was nervous about so many things, junctions being my biggest fear.
I distinctly remember waiting for the lights at the foot of a junction, with my foot on the floor shaking like crazy. I couldn’t stop it. Knowing there were cars waiting directly behind me, waiting to zoom off and I was I front of them. I couldn’t help it. But thanks to a largely direct route into the city centre, with long bus lane sections I grew in confidence.
Thanks go to the policeman directing traffic at a junction who good naturedly told me to change gear, as I peddled furiously past him (in gear 2). I had now found my better, faster gear 5! And began to get less out of breath quite so often.
Next time I’m going to write about:
- finding confidence on the road
- the problems I found that come with getting fitter (yes really).