The best thing about cycling

IMG_0810Never be in doubt there is a real buzz going on about cycling these days.  It’s gaining in popularity at all levels, right from people dusting off their shopping bike and gearing up for cycling no further than the local shops, through to enthusiasts taking on more serious challenges.  Here’s a few observations and maybe some of these might be familiar to you:

Most people who know me will recognise me as a long term cyclist.  This shows itself in a number of ways:

  • At work colleagues sometimes start up conversations about cycling by asking “where’s the best place to buy new bicycle tyres?” or “can I pump my tyres up at a petrol station?”.  I sometimes smile to myself when I am seen with my cycling gear on (helmet, Lycra, gloves, cycling shoes) and I am asked if I’ve cycled in?
  • Non cyclists are talking about the great events: the Olympics, the last two Tour de France wins, the 2014 Tour coming to the UK
  • At church people often strike up a cycling related conversation.  It ranges from my fellow Coast to Coasters through to some just starting out, asking about traffic free routes.  Quite often people remark on how expensive bicycles are!  I reckon many think of bicycles as costing £100 or £200 and can be shocked to learn many cost well over £1000.  “Wow!” they say “you could buy a car for that!”.  Indeed you could but it would probably be fairly old and far more expensive to keep on the road.  Bicycles, while not cheap, bring many other benefits.
  • I see more and more cyclists out in the countryside nowadays.  Each year there are more than ever.  This is wonderful and we can never, ever, have too many cyclists around in my view.
  • Many bike shops seem to be flourishing, currently many are getting in new stocks for the coming Spring and Summer seasons
  • Walk into any branch of WHSmiths and there is now a huge variety of magazines about cycling.  Interestingly there are fewer MTB magazines around

“So what’s that bleak looking photograph for?”

I took this on Monday evening as I cycled home from work.  Starting late afternoon it was soon dusk and I found myself I taking a slightly longer route home (22 miles).  Once out of Stevenage I headed through Whitwell and this photograph was taken climbing out of Bendish.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember when I’m in the Hertfordshire countryside that London is pretty close and Luton (with its airport) is even closer.  In spite of that it still feels so rural.  It is so satisfying travelling under your own steam.

The main point was feeling free.  Yes, cycling brings a great feeling of being free.  Free from the hassle of driving a car, depending on a complex bit of machinery working correctly, not to mention the need to comply with all the legal requirements and the cost of petrol and so on.

Apart from obeying the rules of the road, cycling is so unregulated and its wonderful being able to cling onto this.  This is a real tonic for me, with working in an environment with such attention to complex detail, accountability, governance and scrutiny.  Cycling is so liberating.  And that’s the thing about cycling – freedom, independence and self reliance – arguably the best thing about cycling.  A simple photograph I know – but it just reminds me of all the good things cycling brings.

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