In the spirit of keeping young and beautiful….it is after all my duty to be beautiful ……. and because according to Jill Shaw Rudddock's The Second Half of Your Life , apparently one yoga class a week just doesn’t cut it and I should be exercising six times a week, I've started walking to work. And then I tried a Boris-bike, as they are known in London.
Now, I am not a natural cyclist. Not even close. I don’t have the best sense of balance and I’m scared of my fellow road users. However, I am now working only 25 minutes walk away from home and it’s all down hill and so, I reasoned, why not give it a go, at least on the way there. And so I cycled to work. I say cycled, more like free-wheeled.
First of all I had to find a bike bay near home. There are two, the nearest is small and, it appears, always empty. The other is much bigger but is almost half way to work. Still, it’s a start. Then there is the business of purchasing your ride. They don’t make it easy for the casual user. There is a lot to read and agree to and buttons to press on the touch screen. It costs £1 to hire your bike during a single 24 hour period and if you complete your journey in less than half an hour there is no further payment. Finally, a release code is issued, valid for 10 minutes, which needs to be punched into a pad on the bike’s stand. Fearful of failing to complete all the instructions in time, I finally yanked the bike free and ran over my own foot before discovering the saddle was stuck at the lowest level. Being taller rather than shorter, I was forced to ride the bike with my knees up round my ears, as if in training for the can-can.
The next day I picked out a more suitable bike, the saddle extended to the highest position, before starting the payment process. Armed with the code I released the bike and attempted to mount but this time it was too high and again the adjustable screw was fixed solid. I wobbled on tippy-toe into the traffic and held my breath for the brief journey.
Undefeated, I tried again the next day. This time I selected a bike and checked the height of the saddle first, making sure it would need no adjustments. I punched in the code and, like Goldilocks and the three bikes, it was just right. However, I was wearing a skirt that was pencil in design and not really suitable as it turned out for such sport and so I had to hoike it up, thigh high, in order to pedal. I also broke all my own rules. I’m always forever telling friends to wear a helmet and a high vis-vest or a reflective sash, but failed to myself. I think these bikes are a good idea but I think need to be better prepared.
Top-tip: a cycling helmet in city traffic makes a lot of sense.... and could be a fashion aid for a bad hair day......