Back in the saddle – the pitfalls of rediscovering cycling


The terror

As you wobble off on your first cycle for months, in the wrong gear of course, you’ll suddenly be reminded of how vulnerable you are as you negotiate parked cars and aggressive lorries on nothing more than six metal pipes welded together.

The hypocrisy

When you’re in the car you’re muttering “Bloody cyclists, hogging the road like they own it. Get out of the way, you selfish bastards.”

When you’re on your bike you think “That dickhead Audi driver nearly hit me off. I have a right to be here as well, you know.”

You’ll be soaked no matter what

When’s it’s dry, you’ll be drenched in sweat. When it’s raining, you’ll be saturated by as much water as a Range Rover’s 22-inch rain tyre can send in your direction.

The pain

You can pay several thousands of pounds for a bicycle. It may be made of carbon-fibre and weigh the same as a dandelion clock, but you’ll still return home with a raw arse and thighs as tense as guitar strings. And no matter how much you waste, sorry spend, on your steed, at some point you’re still going to whack yourself in the shin with your own pedal.

The mechanical issues

These days you’ll get an excellent bike for three hundred quid, fitted with hydraulic disc brakes that only require a limp squeeze to stop the bike dead.

Your average wreck of a bike will not be fitted with these. It is inevitable, therefore, that they will not work properly. Either the rears or the fronts will, but not both. So you’ll arrive at your destination backwards, or several seconds before your bike.

Selecting a lower gear as you encounter a hill is always a problem. Too late you realise that you should be in first and not nineteenth, and attack your selector with fervour. All that happens is that your chain comes off – and so do you.

Then there’s the constant rigmarole of replacing inner tubes. There exists a specific subsection of Sod’s Law reserved for cyclists that states that the number of punctures you suffer will be directly proportional to the number you’ve already fixed.

The gear

Cycling helmets are essential. I don’t particularly want to have to relearn my own name or get someone to feed me blended pizza through a straw. But they do look ridiculous. Then there’s the rest of you. Unless you want to get mangled under the wheels of a bus, you have to clad yourself in clothing that makes you look like a cross between a Power Ranger and a children’s TV presenter.

The crapness

No matter how much you dress it up, or love the environment, bikes are slow, dangerous, exhausting and open to the elements, and everyone apart from other cyclists hates you as soon as you sling your leg over the crossbar.