Monday, 26 September 2011
Saturday, 10 September 2011
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......