29 August 2015

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession

As a kid I may have been a bit of a hoodlum. I’ve tried to turn my life around since then, but reminders seem to pop up every now and then to haunt me. Take a recent sunny evening after work for instance, there I was minding my own business (angelically obviously) as a message arrived from the always mischievous Amanda, asking me to join her whizzing around London on a bicycle as a guest of Santander (luring us there with the promise of dinner afterwards).

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession
Speeding along so fast I'm a blurrrr!

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession

Guiltily I gulped as memories of how I learned to ride raced before my eyes. It was another sunny afternoon and hanging out in the backyard, my two siblings and I were just whiling away another hazy Saturday afternoon, my new stereo blaring something hardcore (probably Mmmm Bop or Everybody). My sister had been banned from her new bike due to too many misdemeanours (the details now lost in the sands of time) and I had the genius idea of soothing her pain.

Well, that is by wheeling said bike around her in taunting uneven circles (pushing myself along by my feet due to a total lack of co-ordination, no desire to be sporty and the birthday present of a stereo ensuring my preference of indoors life). After while of doing this, it occurred to me that it might actually be possible to actually lift my feet from the ground and balance a little more – the devil on my shoulder chortling wildly – the act of hassling my sister far outweighing the possibility of grevious bodily injury down our driveway.

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession

After a good hour or so, our Mum caught on (it may have been the tears that gave it away), and sent my little brother and I over to the local school to wonkily zig zag around the fields and burn off the excess energy that kids always seem to have.

As the years have passed, my sister forgave me (and got revenge in a million different ways) but the impetus to cycle has never quite managed to take root on a regular basis. Possibly because I’m a wuss, maybe because I’ll always associate it with sins of the past, perhaps because I have the co-ordination of a tree but mostly the fear that in a spate of karma I’ll hit those trees after picking up too much pace.

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession
My photo editing suite has decided to go all grainy...

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession
...I think with my newly rediscovered skills I'm going to run it over.

That said, on occasions we’ve caught a scrap of summer spirit to wheel our way around the beautiful London parks, feeling the freewheeling breeze as we weave our way through the paths and gardens.
As ever, I digress wildly, but found myself convinced by Amanda to join her in an evening of hedonistic 2-wheeling freedom. A flurry of messages later, we agreed to trial our balance and althetic "skills" around Hyde Park figuring that we couldn’t do too much damage (and drag our lads along to mop up any ensuing accidents and/or tears). Changing-room style I slipped on a pair of jeans, my ever faithful sneakers and a touch of bravado as Amanda logged into the systems of bikes arrayed around the park periphery.

Cycling through London, and a childhood confession

10 or so minutes later of queuing and entering details into the system (the hazards of rush hour in central London I guess) we emerged successfully dragging our  valiant steeds. The boys lay back on the grass giggling laughing manfully at us and snapping photos as we worriedly began to pedal. Wobbly at first Amanda and I managed to find our balance and take a short cautionary excursion on the edge of the dedicated cycle lane that sorta loops the park.

By the end of our mission despite only having about an hours riding experience between us over the last 20 years, were were pedalling away, learning about gears, tapping the brakes like pros and even braving corners. The boys rolling in stood up and pedalling we won't mention... We all left with an endorphin rush, and plans to spend a little more time in the future pedaling around London. You have been warned!

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