From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle

with one comment

Back in January, when London was under a constant grey and weeping cloud, I trekked to Brixton and collected an old bike that I couldn’t yet ride. My blog entry on collecting my old Dutch explains all, I had decided in my mid-thirties to learn how to ride a bike. And I have. A mixture of listening to friends tips, a steely determination on a few Boris bikes when my friend Stephen and brother-in-law Adrian still hadn’t fixed mine up, a long bike ride sandwiched between my sister and Adrian which served as an unofficial cycling proficiency.

As my legs pushed up Kingsland Road in stifling city heat the other day (London has a habit of chosing between oxygen and sunshine, it’s impossible to breathe) I spotted a notice board with a quote from Albert Einstein.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

I instantly connected with this from the cyclists point of view as opposed to a new life mantra (Luther has been back on don’t you know? I need to sit very still for that). I think back to the many hesitations I’ve had as learner. Too slow when traffic lights change, too scared along the canal path that runs past my flat, too cautious around any movable object in general. The romantic, and slightly hipster, notion I had of peddling around care free like a scene from a French film isn’t the reality.

The point of my typing this is in The Guardian today Philip Hoare described not wearing a helmet as a case of civil liberties. How do I make my point without throwing too much weight behind the word helmet as an insult?

As someone who is effectively the Bambi of the cycling world I heavily rely on direction from responsible cyclists, courtesy and awareness from pedestrians and vehicles, unbreakable concentration and my cycling helmet. While I know that in a case of Hat Vs. Double Decker it wouldn’t act as a force field, it still helps as a reminder that I am vulnerable on two wheels. And you know, I think that’s a very good thing to have at the forefront of my mind while I practise and practise. Even after I stop ducking under the bridges along the towpath, and stop choosing to crash into concrete over the possibility of colliding with anyone or anything, I’ll never not wear one.



Written by Anon PA

July 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm

One Response

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  1. The helmet thing. I’m conflicted. As a regular rider for the last 4 years, but with a 15 year pause before that, I had to make a decision on wearing vs not wearing. My decision would have been no helmet. My wife felt differently; pointed out our lovely daughter and told me that she needs her Daddy. So, she won that debate.

    Now, 4 years on, I would dearly love to ditch the helmet, but for a variety of reasons, I probably won’t

    1) I do loads more miles on my bike now
    2) I have seen many many dangerous idiots (cyclists/drivers/pedestrians) who have all offered me the opportunity to swerve or crash
    3) I have another child now, doubling the whole safety argument
    4) If I stop wearing a helmet, it would be so much harder to put one on for organised events (for which they tend to be compulsory)
    5) Tempted by the webcam attached to helmet thing, again for safety.

    That all said, the times when I would be most tempted to not wear a helmet (hiring a bike for ‘family fun days’, riding slowly in the woods, would be the times of most risk.

    My biggest bugbear about helmets though is that they are mostly rubbish. Uncomfortable, too hot and don’t offer a high enough amount of noggin protection. And they make me look like a reet knob.

    Syd Hancock

    July 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

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