If you had met me just 2 years ago, you would have known that I was pretty sure I was adopted. Kinda.
My whole family were heavily into cycling, we would go on holidays with the intention of spending our days on a bike in the forest, and my dad spends more time and money on his bikes than he does on the car, which barely gets a hoover or a hose down once a year. He has done a 4 day cycle from John O Groats to Lands End, and he, my mum and my brother have cycled from London to Paris.
If you had met me 2 years a go, the chances of me accompanying them on these ventures was nil. “I’ll sit in the van with snacks and water for you” I would say. “Cycling is not my thing, why would you cycle with no purpose, but to just… cycle?”
At least that is what I thought. Until I, the self confessed King Stinge, decided paying for the bus to uni was not on, and got on a bike. Little did I know I had just opened a whole new can of worms.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I hated cycling. One time we went mountain biking at Thetford Forest and I cried tears of misery and pain around the whole of the Blue run. I barely even cheered up when I ate lunch in the cafe, which if I am honest was the only reason I agreed to cycle with them in the first place. I would moan of having a bottom so bruised it had turned black, and complain that if I kept cycling I would end up with legs like Chris Hoy, never find a husband because of them, and die alone in my old house while my 10 cats nibbled at my huge muscly legs.
This year however, I have agreed to not just cycle on holiday, but cycle to our holiday. We are cycling to Lands End in Cornwall. For fun. Then we will travel to Polzeath (where I used to spend all my summers and love way too much) and stay there for a week. U turn is not even the phrase! My endless rants about cycling for no reason and refusing to get on a saddle have been completely undermined and I am a hypocrite. Meanwhile Papa Smole can sit there smugly as I confess I have been Smolenized and now enjoy cycling. Gah.
So why the sudden change of heart? Not sure. I guess in the last 2 years being at University has opened my mind to new things, made me meet new people and made me grow up a bit. Cycling has even become a way of getting out the house for some fresh air, not just a mode of transport for University.
Last year my bike, which was too expensive, got stolen from University despite it being tied up. I don’t think I’ve been that angry before, and I even refused to go into uni for a few days because I could not do so on my beloved bike! I really was gutted. The sun shone the next day, but I couldn’t go out on a little bike ride to enjoy it! So I bought a £30 second hand, battered bike off the back of the van. I called it the Fire Bolt. (Yes that is a Harry Potter reference)
The brakes didn’t work, and every time I changed gear my chain fell off. What is worse is it tended to fall off in the most dangerous places. Once in the middle of a busy roundabout and once in the middle of a very busy light controlled T junction. Each time I was left spinning my legs round extremely fast like an idiot, but going absolutely nowhere. Meanwhile cars would zoom past me, beep at me and generally make me feel like I was about to die. Several times I went flying through red lights (I don’t recommend it) because my breaks didn’t work.
Despite this, I still loved cycling. And the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it.
Over summer I started doing exactly what I hated before, going on long bike rides, in a loop from A to A, just for fun. Me and my mum would cycle about 20 miles, just because. I even went and watched the mountain biking at the Olympics, and loved it. What happend to me!?
Now, in one last final blow to any integrity I may still have regarding sticking to my beliefs about cycling, I am going to tell you to get on a bike to. Because it’s fun. And because it’s cheaper than getting a bus, and greener, and because you might discover you really enjoy it!