Sunday, 30 September 2018

"Put Me Back On My Bike"

... with apologies to the late great Tommy Simpson. 

But that sentiment is real. I ain't done with this whole cycling thing. 

It's been nearly 1 year since I was knocked off my bike on a morning commute into London. A lot has changed and is still changing, including cycling -- the role it plays in my life and the role it plays in my own identity. 

I've spent the past year internally screaming at motorists "but I'm not a CYCLIST, I'm just a person on a bike" in a desperate attempt to stop feeling 'othered', to stop feeling like a target for people who don't give a damn whether they hurt or kill another human being.

Well, guess what, my internal campaign made no difference whatsoever to the attitudes or behaviours of drivers. But the turmoil was having a negative impact on me, on my confidence, on my sense of self-determination and independence. 

(The actual cycling this past year? A few hundred miles in total -- if we're generous -- mostly local errands on my sit-up-and-beg vintage mixte, plus a few group pootles on the road mixte or Cross Check. No road cycling. No lycra. No clip-in pedals. Which also meant.... no Enigma.)

Adam tried tempting me back with a super wheels upgrade in the spring but nope, somehow it just wasn't happening.

Then we went to the NEC Cycle Show last Thursday. Nothing revolutionary here.... but I found myself in conversation with a number of people where I presented myself and my point of view as a Cyclist with a Capital C. And it felt good, normal, natural... right.

The next day, I asked Adam to dig the Enigma out from wherever it was behind a lot of other bikes in the garage. He pumped up the tyres and adjusted the brakes, I donned proper road shoes and mounted up. 

Halfway down the driveway, I was assailed with that old-familiar but completely unexpected sense of "Ahhhhhhh!" I love this bike so much.

So I asked Adam to plot us a ride for Saturday. 'Keep it under an hour', I said. 'And flat', I said. He kinda sorta ignored the first but delivered on the second. 23 miles out to Goodwood Motor Circuit and back home via the Centurion Way. 

A group of cyclists were also here -- and at least half are women, from the set up of the bikes!

It happened to be a public Track Day so of course we had to watch for a while.
on the Centurion Way

Pleased to see that a number of defects in the path that
Adam reported a month ago have all now been repaired.

My basic fitness turns out to be okay, but some of that conditioning that supports a static position on a bike needs to come back!

But... I am back! I am a cyclist, as well as a person on a bike. This is who I am. I love it.

In other news, I am very excited and happy to be increasingly involved with local cycling campaigning and advocacy (under the banners of Sustrans, CTC/Cycling UK and Cycle Bognor plus mucking in to get stuff done with a consortium of all local groups, called the Bognor Regis Cycling Forum). I hadn't entirely stopped doing that, as road safety is something I'm passionate about -- for pedestrians as much as for cyclists -- but I am committed to bringing my years of experience as a London commuter and cycle tourer to bear here in this southwestern corner of West Sussex.

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