In my head…

…I’m a cyclist.

Well, I’m cyclist in the same way that I believe I’m a Mac user. [I’m possibly delusional.] I’d never dare cycle on the streets of London, but I have enormous empathy for those that do and desperately covet a gorgeous Dutch bike that I could glamorously swan about on. (It would have a wicker basket full of tulips at the front and wonderful leather panniers, plus a delightfully shiny and tuneful bell.) 
London’s currently awash with wannabe cyclists thanks to Mayor Boris’ latest initiative – public bikes. I’ve not had a go yet, but will (I have a theory that they might aid my journey to pilates, I’m just a little apprehensive about actually cycling on one). I’m not sure the hard core cyclists are happy about this development, but then it can simply be another valid concern hard core cyclists can add to their lists.
Like the abuse female cyclists suffer at the hand of male drivers and pedestrians – last week I discovered a rather fabulous blog written by one such bike user entitled: 101 Wankers. (To be honest, I’m sure the total number of such people in London is far higher than 101!) In it she details her awful encounters with utter idiots, including drivers who simply like to make a game of toying with cyclists and yelling abusive comments at them, oh, and the biggest w*nker of all – the one who stole her bike! 
Continuing the bike theme, as I mentioned, I covet Dutch bikes. For some months (actually years) I’ve loved one that’s often parked outside my office as it’s pink and particularly pretty. Witness:
It took me quite a while to notice that this bike is actually sponsored – observe:
Not only is it a beautiful bike – it’s educational too! And yes, I’ve looked the site up – it’s bona fide. I just can’t quite understand how it’s taken me two years to get round to taking a photo, or why I didn’t think to use my actual camera when I took these last week (the fact that I was on the way home from the pub may explain the latter). 

Bicycles

The above photo is not really an example of my most brilliant work, given as it fails to accurately portray its subject and context. What you are looking at is an exercise bike (Alice is demonstrating how it is used) in the middle of a pub’s ladies’ toilets. Yes, in the toilets. See the sinks? The hand-dryer? The doorway into the cubicle? Terribly random. 
[Should you be female and wish to try out this bizarre arrangement, the pub in question is The Boot in King’s Cross.] 
This leads me nicely onto two totally separate bike related anecdotes…
(i) Reading on exercise bikes.
This is one of the more random 2010 Firsts on the right – last month I read whilst cycling at the gym for the first time. I’ve often watched people read on the bikes – usually it’s magazines or newspapers – and I’ve wondered whether they can really be working hard enough, seeing as they look rather relaxed. 
But arriving at the gym near the end of a particularly gripping novel, I decided to give it a go. It was amazing – I didn’t watch the time or the intensity levels, just pedalled on regardless. In fact, I went longer because after half an hour I still hadn’t quite finished the book. Note: reading is really not a good idea on a treadmill… 
(ii) A sudden desire to cycle in London.
I’m not a good cyclist. In fact, I am so bad that I failed my Cycling Proficiency test – I don’t know anyone else who failed it. (Though I did get full marks for the theory…) A rather bad accident aged 12 knocked my confidence and, while I’m very happy doing familiar routes back in Gloucester, preferably on my friend’s gorgeous ‘sit up and beg’ Dutch bike, I’m something of a liability. 
Last week I joined a new choir (there will be much blog fodder derived from this activity, I’m sure of it). It’s local, but as is the way with London, getting there involves either a half-hour walk or a bus. Leaving choir after my first rehearsal, a woman ahead of me jumped on her bike and cycled off towards The Roundabout of Death (as it’s become known in my driving lessons). Suddenly I thought that perhaps my bike would be better off here than in a Belfast basement, if solely for these weekly excursions, and wondered about finding a way of getting it over the Irish Sea.
Lest you be worried for my safety, one conversation with my mother put paid to that idea. Anyone else hearing the words “I’d be worried about you cycling in London” would assume maternal fear of the city’s traffic and roads. No, she was voicing her concern at my cycling capabilities and rightly so. [I’ve recently been  told that she misinterprets some of my comments about her on here, so I need to be careful to say the right thing.] 
Fear not Londoners (or those that love me and would hate for me to end up under a bus) I will hold-off on the cycling desires for now…