Spudballoo writing at Chez Spud has been a featured blogger on a number of Saturday Six posts. Needless to say I was thrilled at the chance to have her as a guest-poster. On her own blog she has recently started a series called “what I saw today” which I absolutely love so I asked her to write a special version for me.
Until recently I hadn’t been on a bike for 20 years. This is such a puzzle to me as, in my head, I’m only about 20 years old. Clearly there is some kind of strange space/time continuum ‘thing’ going on as I can’t possibly be old enough to make bold statements like, ‘I haven’t been on a bike for 20 years’. If you suspect me to be kidding myself, please do me a kindness and refrain from mentioning it. My tender 39 year old ego is oh..so…very precious…
I’m not sure why it’s been so long since I last cycled? Mostly laziness, having a car and living in London (or, more to the point, the horrendous London traffic). The bottom line is that I never even considered cycling anywhere once I owned a car. Hear that noise? That’s the sound of a million environmentalists’ hearts shattering in to pieces…weep.
Fast forward those mysterious 20 years and I’m married to a very keen cyclist and now have two keen cyclist boys (age 5 and 3). There’s no way around the fact that we have become A Cycling Family and it quickly became apparent I was going to have to join the party. Very reluctantly, I might add since I’m not especially fit and I’m terrified of traffic.
So, earlier this summer, I booked myself a 1:1 ‘cycling confidence’ lesson. I wasn’t even sure I could actually still cycle, and I knew I needed some help with cycling on the road confidently and all that stuff. I was nervous, actually I was terrified. I didn’t even have a bike but I muddled through the lesson and I LOVED it!
No one was more surprised than me by my sudden passion for two wheels but, sure enough, I was soon to be found pottering around the country lanes near our home each evening. I borrowed a bike and off I wobbled, taking advantage of the last few weeks of late summer evening light. Day by day I went a little further, and felt a little more confident until eventually I tackled a longer journey in to our local town to [DRUM ROLL] have a coffee.
Frankly I felt like having a cocktail by the time I got there, it was such a ‘big’ moment for me…I’d cycled from home, in daylight, with much more traffic than I was used to and had made it to the cafe without killing myself or crying. SUCCESS! Another] new hobby has been born and now I’m busy with a cycling course and booking myself on organised cycle rides. And buying padded pants. But that’s a whole other post in itself…
One of my other hobbies is photography. I’m a very keen photographer and I take photos every day, lugging my gigantic Big Girl’s Camera around with me. It quickly became apparent that my cycling jaunts were also going to be photography jaunts too – they are perfect bedfellows. I hadn’t appreciated how much more you see on a bike, just from traveling more slowly…and how flexible you can be..stopping where you want with no bother or danger…ditching the bike and walking a bit…changing your route to follow something interesting or some beautiful light. You just SEE more and you see it DIFFERENTLY on a bike.
That said, I’m too lazy to lug my DSLR around with me on the bike. It’s just too heavy and cumbersome…so I use my iPhone. I’ve long loved the iPhone camera and it really comes in to its own for bike ride snaps. I stick it in my back pocket and off I go. Often I don’t even need to get off the bike to get the shot, which appeals to my lazy nature. The only problem is actually making any progress on a ride because I want to snap everything. Also (ssshhh) I use my photography breaks as an excuse for a breather. Tough hill? Take a photo. Legs wobbly? Take a photo. Big truck coming up behind? Take a photo. Win…win…win.
To document my rides and the things I see I have a series on my blog called ‘What I saw on my bike today…’ which speaks for itself really. A photo or two or five from each ride, with a few thoughts on the ride, what I saw, what I learned and even what I smelt! Another revelation to me is how you use all your senses when you cycle, I never knew that a field of potatoes smells like, well, potatoes. You just don’t get that in a car!
I’m reserving judgment until the winter has passed but, cautiously, I would say that I’m fast becoming a cycling addict. I got on my bike again so I could cycle as a family activity but, in fact, what I love is cycling solo…just me, the bike, the open road and my trusty iPhone camera for company. Snap snap snap!