Author Topic: Cycling - taking the ease of it for granted


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Very occasionally I am reminded of why everyone in the family has a bike.  It's not just a ploy to prevent me from filling the shed with my personal fleet of bikes.  Nor is it meant to ensure that I have enough fettling material to keep me from attempting any more woeful DIY home improvements.   Last summer all five of us (ages from 8 to 40) did a 15 mile charity ride in North Kent.  It was slow but fun, and the weather was kind to us.  We also had a holiday in the Lake District where we took it in turns to use two bikes, doing loops round Esthwaite Water and over to Windermere. Mrs R uses a bike every now and then for local shopping and nipping up to church.  But even that involves kerfuffle of a modest sort - where's the lock?  where are the lights?  can I be bothered to unlock the side gate or shall I just wheel it through the house? can I be bothered to put it in the shed when I get back?

The other weekend we (mum and dad) decided that we would cycle round to my brother-in-law's house in Streatham (about 4 miles round the South Circular) instead of taking the car.  It took about an hour of cajoling and wheedling to get everyone to accept that we were going to cycle.  That was after I'd extracted the bikes form the shed, checked them and inflated tyres.  It was then a further half hour before we'd got to the point of having everyone (grudgingly) ready to set off.

One offspring was a bit wobbly - he's just moved up from a smaller bike and is getting used to his new steed - and another was so grumpy about being forced to ride a bike that she kept stopping for a rest.  We must have averaged barely over walking pace, as it took nearly an hour to get there.  There was some sense of achievement, particularly for the littlest who had, possibly for just the second or third time in his life, conquered the hill up past the Horniman Museum.  Negotiating the traffic had been a challenge as well.  South Circular drivers are not particularly forgiving of wobbles and sudden lane changes.  But we got there, only an hour late.

After a jolly barbecue, four out of five of us cycled home.  Grumpy (I don't think she ever visits this forum) stayed behind and was picked up in the car the following day.  Her bike is still in Streatham and I get the feeling she never wants to see it again.

I'm left feeling that bikes are not remotely easy or convenient for most of my family.  Even if we find an occasion when they might be a useful or fun way of travelling, there's so much faff and resistance that I'm seriously tempted to fire up the dreaded Mondeo.  I suspect that, like Daniel, I've got so used to the routine of sauntering up the garden, getting my bike out and heading off for an eight mile ride to work each morning that I've completely forgotten the extent to which it's a physical and mental challenge for others.