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Posts Tagged ‘fun’

One to watch. This video is funny, I counted over 200 cyclists in this video, weaving in and out of traffic.  I’m lucky if I see three in the rush hour on my commute. With so many cyclists around, I would definitely feel more confident!

Rush Hour in Cambridge from Cycling Edinburgh,

Snow Freezes London

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bandstandI fell off the bike today.    Only my pride was hurt though!  But still, even though this wasn’t serious, I’m reluctant to wear a helmet! 

Weekly cycle lesson had been cancelled so I went to Battersea Park, the sister park to Dulwich Park. It’s nestled on the south side between Albert and Chelsea Bridges in the heart of inner city London.

pagodaThere’s a myraid of things to do but I was extremely disappointed to walk around for nearly two hours trying to find the cycle hire place but instead found everything else. 

I walked past the Bandstand (above), Pagoda (left), frozen lakes and swans, people playing tennis & football in minus 3 degree weather, The Pumphouse, various frosted gardens, empty children’s zoo, cafe, loads of joggers along the Thames several times! I was going round and round in circles but it was also annoying because of the time limit in the car park and there were no signposted directions to bicycle hire shop.

All the ‘you are here’ maps of the park  indicated bicycle hire, the same company as in Dulwich Park.  But I couldn’t find it. I could never read a map!

Ever had that experience where you ask someone the way and they send you in the wrong direction.  Its just up there, pass the Arena, you can’t miss it.  Well I did miss it!  Several times.

One thing I noticed though, was the abundance of  ‘no cycling’ signs!  How ridiculous. What’s the point of  having a cycle hire in the park, if you’re limited to the perimeter.

Finally, nearly two hours later, I found  the shop, London Recumbents, but the time limit on the car park was up. The sales assistant expressed concerns that they were not included on any signs at this popular park. So it wasn’t just my lack of map reading skills after all! 

Disappointed, I decided to go to Dulwich Park as it was on my way home.  Pleased as punch to be on a bicycle again, I seemed  to have gained more confidence and went of the main paths onto the gravel.  As I turned left, something moved in the dustbin just on the grassy corner. Not even a second later, something jumped out. Startled,  I lost my grip and tumbled off  the bike.  No one was around. I wasn’t hurt and got up straight away. When I looked, it was a squirrel jumping out of the dustbin!  Then another and another. Pesky squirrels.  Still they looked cute!

Hope the lessons are on for next week.

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dulwich-parkdulwich-pkdulwich

 Cycle and eat Tiramisu!

 

 

That’s what I did and the depression lifted.  For some strange reason, I woke up this morning feeling depressed for little apparent reason.  I cannot say why, I was just depressed, moody and fed up.

However, I forced myself out of bed, drove around aimlessly until I came to Dulwich Park.  Although I used to pass it every single day on my way to work, I had never been inside.  I decided to walk in the park for some exercise and surprisingly enough, on this minus 3 freezing day, lots of families and people were out enjoying the bitterly cold weather.

Even more suprisingly, I happened upon, by chance a Cycle Hire Shop in the grounds called London Recumbents Ltd! Couldn’t believe my luck! What a coincidence!  Quite a few people and children were having loads of fun on these strange looking bikes that I’ve never seen before.  They were so funny!

I got up  the courage to hire a cycle  on my own for £7.00 for an hour and rode around in the bitter cold, passing the frozen lake, the frost tipped manicured gardens, a large mansion type dwelling that housed the cafe, children’s playground, numerous gravel and smooth paths and tennis courts, several times.  

I must get proper gloves. The tips of my fingers were frozen off, they felt like icicles but after about 30 minutes they warmed up. Then it was my feet that caught the icy cold frost!  But I was particularly pleased that this was my first time riding a bike alone.  It was great fun! 

At home I brought some Tiramisu from Sainsburys, put it in a wine glass and ate it slowly, savouring every moment and my achievement.  Delicious and no more depression!

A Tumble

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women-cyclingjpegHooray!! I passed Level 2.

Wrapped up warmly with my new thermals, thick jumper, overcoat, two pairs of socks, boots, scarf and a hat under my helmet, I turned up at Cycle Training, the last week before Christmas.  I was the only one, alone at Christmas, the last lesson before the holidays, and guess what? I got to choose what to do.  Jumping around like an excited pupppy, I asked to go on the Thames  riverfront. I was delighted and I had three, yes three instructors all to myself!

I lead the way! Behind me, Jake shouting out instructions as usual. We set off along the dual carriageway in the cycle lane, pass the speeding cars, then along the High Street pass the parked cars, stopping in the correct position at the traffic lights, to the right of the buses, cycled straight ahead (hey, I can cycle in a straight line!) pass the roundabout and up a slight hill but then, I had to stop as I was getting very hot and tired. What a lack of stamina! 

I made an excuse that my gears wouldn’t change to a lower gear so I could have a rest.  I took off my jumper and hat and Jake put it in his panniers.  This week was not as cold as the week before. You can never tell what the weather is going to be like!  Cycling certainly warms you up.

We cycled for what felt like miles, came across a huge roundabout where I was supposed to signal right but for some reason my hands were stuck to the handlebars.  Jake then took the lead and we passed industrial looking buildings and came upon the path for the riverfront. 

I was knackered.  I had to dismount and push the bike up the short slope to get to the riverfront.  Get on the bike. Come on. You can do. They encouraged me but it was to no avail, I determinedly pushed the bike up the slope. 

Jake then said I was cycling too fast about 13 mph along the main roads. What I should have done is cycle about 10 mph and then I would be able to cycle longer and not get so tired until I build up my stamina.  But cycling on the major roads was quite nerve wrecking. Although I felt both excited at the element of danger (!) and thrilled, there, I didn’t want to hold the cars up so I tried to cycle quickly.

Along the riverfront was definitely more relaxing.  It was the first time I had been out that way. I could slow down, enjoy the view, enjoy cycling, enjoy exploring. No traffic, just one or two joggers and other cyclists along the gravel and then tarmaced paths. Jake laughed when I said it was a long way – about eight miles in total.  That’s absolutely nothing to him but anyway I was knackered and elated to have passed Level 2! Hooray.  Can you believe that? Now its time to get a bike but where shall I put it?  I know I’ll miss cycling until next year.

What To Do When You’re Depressed

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Journey Planner

Chatting to Leon, one of the instructors during lesson break, I learned about the Transport for London’s cycle routes. So I eagerly tinkered around with TFL website after class to find out more about our previous Thames riverside cycle paths and was amazed to see that their cycle route included a  bicycle moving, actually cycling along the route after I clicked on the ‘cycle only’ and ‘wizard’ options.

Such fun! I watched it studiously, enjoying the vicarious cycling and plan to use it when I’m more confident and experienced and with bike! Its soooo funny!  This goes in my ‘Thing To Do When Not Cycling’ category. I’m really impressed! Seems like London is really promoting cycling. Enjoy virtual cycling!

Cycling major roads

 

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Well, I just knew it!  I was born in the wrong country!  Surfing for information about bikes came across loads of stuff, including Copenhagen Cycle Chic  and Copenhagenize.com blogs about bike culture and social commentary in Copenhagen. What wonderful sites.  For someone like me, new to riding a bicycle, it’s amazing! I’ve learnt that I don’t have to wear lyrca cycling gear from head to toe after all. I notice that most of their cyclists don’t wear a helmet either!  They say up to 39% of the population travel by bicycle in their normal clothes including high heels, fashionable clothes and all sorts in Copenhagen. 

I was so excited when I found another site called Amsterdaize and.. get this… its logo is 100% Lycra-Free, Guaranteed. Browsing also through London Cycle Chic shows how to Look Good and Cycle. Their blog says

This site offers tips and advice on how to combine safety, practicality and style to acheive true urban cycle chic.

Great, isn’t it!

I now feel more confident and certain that you can look good riding a bicycle and/or wear what you normally wear even in cold weather.   

My instructors wear all the Gore stuff.  When I looked it up  it was sooooo expensive. The total cost of buying the gear, costs more than what I would spend on a bike itself!  I don’t have that sort of money. But then they are professionals and I just want to pursue fun, freedom and fitness.

Now I can say with confidence to my instructors that I can learn in clothes that I normally wear when they laugh at my heeled boots!  The culture of bike riding is amazing in those countries.  We should definitely follow their example.  I wish I was born there

Can you imagine, though that in the USA (where I lived for a while) a bike culture! Maybe its possibly impractical in some places in the States. Definitely car culture rules.  Now I’m thinking about it, I never saw cyclist all the time I was in the States!  In my opinion, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many obese people if cycling replaced cars!

Well, Scandinavian countries, I’m booking my flight! (when I’m more experienced, of course). 

Virtual cycling?

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dorset

Visiting my long time friend, along the Jurassic Coast, I was very excited at the thought of riding together. I hired a bike for the day. Knowing how experienced she was I knew I was in good hands. I’ve always admired her confidence and guts in cycling all around London, up the West End and everywhere in God-awful traffic, like it was a piece of cake.  But she comes from a cycling family and has been riding since a child. I’ve never seen my friend with a helmet or lycra cycling gear.  She always wears her own clothes.  Although it was absolutely freezing, her motto is ‘there’s no bad weather only bad clothing’.

I was alright until I actually had to get on the bike outside the shop. My friend had never seen me cycle before. Yes, I’ve had a few lessons, I assured her.  I got on the bike but no, she told me to swing my leg like I was getting on a horse! Mmmmm. OK….. As soon as I started  to pedal we had to turn right into a busy country lane. 

I was sooo nervous inside that all my adrenalin turned to resignation. I had to ride this bike no matter what.  So I pretended to be confident, pretended that I had been riding for ever and followed her down the country lane as cars whizzed pass. At least now I can cycle in a straight line!

Turned into a country lane, cycling through a lovely park, gained momentum up a slope, but I had to dismount because I was damn exhausted! My thighs couldn’t take any more!!  From the top of the slope, my friend encouraged me to get on the bike.  No, no. You don’t understand. I pleaded with her.  I pretended to fix my boots, got a few minutes reprieve and continued.

trad-cottagesWe cycled around mainly on flat ground as my friend showed me the sights of South West England. We  went to Chesil Beach, West Bay, Lyme Regis and the Hardy Monument and visited a musuem where I was attracted to and brought a strange photo of a Victorian woman on an odd looking huge tricycle.

The road to Lyme Regis Beach was long.  Again my thighs were getting tired.  Can I stop? Can I stop? I shouted out to her, as she was riding behind me.  No. No. Just keep going and I had to. There was no pavement anyway to stop along these country lanes. Suddenly the road turned into three lanes approaching a very large roundabout.  She got in front of me and shouted, just follow me.  OMG!  She was so fast. I cycled behind her all the way round the 3rd exit off the roundabout, swinging my arms out to signal and trying to catch up with her.  She was fast! I was pumped up and just got on with it because I had no choice.  I remember my instructors comments.  Be assertive. Don’t let cars bully you.  Be seen, be aware. Keep looking behind. 

We didn’t stop too long at the beach because it was absolutely freezing but rode up and down the promenade, brought lunch and climbed up a cliff. Or rather, she climbed up the cliff , I stopped half  way to admire the view and give my legs a rest. I didn’t realise how unfit I am.

west-bayThe museum was on a busy high street.  My friend rode in front, directing the way.  She was so fast, she left me behind and I was alone on a high street with loads of cars and parked vehicles.  Still pretending like I knew what I was doing, I remembered my training and cycled a metre from the parked cars, regardless of  the cars behind me, did not swerve into the gaps, looked behind me regularly and tried to catch her up whilst silently cursing her under my breath but simultaneously enjoying the thrill and danger of it all.  And yes.  My confidence grew. After all that I felt great!   If only Jake could see me now! 

Yes, you can ride, my friend told me.  All you need to do is change gears more often.  And thats a compliment.  Thanks for my wonderful short holiday break. Now I can tackle my next lesson with more confidence, I hope.

Turn Left Turn Right

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