Once upon a time, I cycled a lot. Mostly for travelling to school, work or church purposes.
I began my career on a red bike, one which had a back-pedalling brake. Nearly failed me my Cycling Proficiency test did that, but I won through on the grounds it wasn’t my fault I had that, and that I was pretty proficient!
I progressed to a light blue shopper bike, with a basket on the front, and room on the back for school bag and clarinet to be firmly strapped on! This one saw me through secondary school, through the moody teenage years of wanting to be alone a lot, (which I achieved by exploring almost every inch of the town I lived in by walking or cycling) and more importantly through the two years I did a paper round. Well, apart from the six weeks when I had a broken arm.. best we don’t discuss the idiocies of the Patrol Leader falling over the guy-line of the flag pole she’d just mended. I earned that Knotter’s Badge on the strength of the strength of those knots… pity about the six weeks off piano practice, and PE. (No, cancel that last one. I did mind about piano, but not PE!)
I had a few years off, through sixth form and higher education, but returned to cycling for the first few years of my working life – bus fares being extortionate, and buses irregular. Similar blue bike, named Johann. (Johann Sebastian Bike for Sundays.) Well, I was earning my living teaching music, and doing a little bit of organ playing.
Again a few more years and onto my stint as a London Cyclist. Well, an East End Cyclist. And, on to my third blue shopper bike. I certainly wasn’t brave enough to venture too far… work and church being the extent of my bravery. But that bravery did include the Mile End Road for church, as I was the organist for a church on a little island in the middle of the Mile End Road. Made for slightly noisy services, as the Mile End Road streamed either side, and the Blackwall Tunnel approach road was to the back of the church.
I hated the Mile End Road. Especially after the couple of shunting episodes by cars whose drivers did not consider I had any right to be there. And, nearly 20 years ago, I would not have dreamed of cycling on the pavement. My only pleasant experiences were coming home from Midnight Mass, when public transport had stopped, and lorries were virtually non-existent. Then, the road was positively pleasant.
Then, there were the lock stealing episodes! I worked mornings only at a primary school, and could never find someone to let me and my bike out of the locked car park at lunch time. So, I locked the bike up to the school railings outside the car park, and after the third lock was stolen decided walking to school was better.. and also took to going to church by bus. One day, one of those shunting episodes was going to cause me damage!
I had one last attempt at cycling, a few years later, in New Zealand. This was the end of my cycling career, as this was when my dodgy knees decided to declare their dodginess, and I was medically advised to give up!!