I have a confession to make.
This is a running blog and I call myself a runner (at times) but I have a new obsession – bikes! I’m falling in love with cycling.
And so today I found myself pedalling a new bike across London. Yes I know I only got my other bike a few months ago but it’s not until you cycle around for a few months that you really know what sort of bike suits your needs. I have a great hybrid bike which is comfortable and easy to ride. A great all round work horse and good beginners bike. But being a hybrid it’s good at many things but master of none and where it falls down for me is that although it is fairly light weight it is not light enough.
In London if you want to keep your bike you keep it indoors. We live in a typical London terraced house and our bikes are either in the shed (right through the house at the back of the garden) or like mine. which I want to use frequently, kept in the kitchen/squeezed in the kitchen hallway by the bottom door. To get it out I have to twist it out a tight door round a corner and up a steep flight of stairs from the basement. My hybrid might be light at 13 to 14kg but it takes a bit of strength to get it out and I’ve been put off a few very short trips because of the 5 mins effort it takes to get it out the door.
When I got the bike bug I started surfing the web and dreaming about more and more gorgeous bikes. I got a taste for traditional classic style bikes and kept showing my OH stunning looking ones with big price tags! And then we went to a drinks party where OH’s friends managed to tell me about their planned (and already booked) boys ski trip before my other half had! I took advantage of the amount of alcohol he had consumed and extracted a promise that if he could spend on a ski trip he could buy me a new bike! Result.
So my lusting after pretty bikes became research for the right one for me. I needed light, I wanted simple. I use at most 3 of the 16 gears on my hybrid and go for many trips without changing gear altogether. When trying to keep up with OH on his road bike I complain about my lack of speed, however fast my little legs pedal! I realise it’s a lot to do with my poor gear experience and choice although a lighter bike and thinner road tyres will help.
Then I found my bike. At just over 9kg its about the lightest women’s bike I could find. It’s pretty too. It’s a single speed and an ideal urban run around. And it was in a sale! OH double checked I’d be ok without gears. I reminded him of my “expert” use of the gears on the bikes I’ve had recently and that my instincts are to pedal faster when I want speed, stand up for hills and free wheel down again. After all until recently the bulk of my cycling experience was as a pre teen tom boy terrorising the neighbourhood in the ’70’s on my bike. A single speed!
When I said on twitter this morning than I was about to ride my new bike back across London I was told I was brave. I hadn’t thought about it because it was a necessary journey. In fact following OH, who knew the routes, and because it was quiet on a Saturday morning it was a stress free and lovely ride through the centre of London. It gave me confidence that as long as you have your wits about you, choose your time and the right routes cycling in London doesn’t have to be a frightening experience.
The one thing we did notice was how many bloody traffic lights you come across when travelling across London And they take aaages to change. Why do you notice them more on two wheels? It’s not as if it’s hilly and you want a few minutes to get your breath back!
My new bike rode well. It was light, fast, smooth and very quiet with no rattling gears when peddling. OH was on a Boris Bike and was having to work a bit. I, in comparison had to keep backing off, braking and free wheeling to stay behind him! The only slight problem is that it is going to take me a little while to get used to the harder ride from the more rigid frame and thin road tyres It’s built for speed on smooth roads which made me very aware of how bad London roads are! I’m sure my undercarriage will also adjust to the thinner saddle too. Price you pay for speed!
8.11 miles in 1 hour 8 mins. (mostly hanging around at traffic lights and saying ‘ouch’ over pot holes)
Tomorrow I have to run 14 miles for my marathon training. Can I take my new bike?