Ding! Ding! Move aside road hogs and make way for the big guns: me and my new bike! Yes, you heard correctly – after far too many months of procrastination I’ve finally bitten the bullet and purchased a new two-wheeled mode of transport!
Ever since I was a kid, bikes have featured in my life. I have fond memories of my little yellow and red Raleigh Rascal, upon which I first learned the art of bike riding. Hmmm, I also have a not so fond recollection of bombing down the hill near my house at a fair rate of knots on said bike and being catapulted over the top of a car door as someone flung it open to get out and clearly hadn’t spotted my rapid descent down the street. This was a very sad day indeed, I was so shaken I couldn’t eat my dinner, one of my favourites as well; homemade minced beef and onion pie and roast potatoes. I even ended up going to hospital and having an X-ray. The result? A sprained ankle. Yes, you might well feel guilty, Mrs over-zealous car-door-opener!
Did this deter me though? Not on your nelly! I gradually progressed through the bike ranks until I reached the undisputable pinnacle of bike ownership in the early eighties…..
Oh my Lady Gaga, what an awesome piece of kit this was! Quite possibly one of the most dangerous bikes ever known to man and ridiculously expensive (my Mum and Dad bought me and my big brother one each out of Mum’s ‘buy now, pay later’ catalogue and I believe they’ve only just finished paying for it some thirty-odd years on) but if you didn’t own one of these beasts it wasn’t even worth wheeling your bike out of the shed when your mates called round for you. The handlebars shook like billy-oh when you went downhill and the front wheel lifted off the ground when you leaned back in the Harley Davidson-esque saddle but it had a gear stick for goodness sake and a stand that you could nonchalantly kick down so that your bike stood of its own accord and that counted for far more than a couple of trivial safety issues! Plus, I could sit my little brother near the handlebars and give him a ‘croggy’ as I cruised around the streets of the village, thinking I looked the dog’s bollocks*.
*Thinking about it now, I only did this once as even I could spot the potential hazards of this foolhardy behaviour.
The Chopper is still in production but it’s not a patch on the original – the saddle is different and the gears are now on the handles like all other bikes. The world has gone health and safety mad!
As we continue this leisurely cycle through my bike career, we move into my late twenties, when I used to go cycling quite regularly – so much so that Pud and I decided to take a cycling holiday in Ireland and what a fantastic experience that was! Cycling up to thirty miles a day with a group of lovely people from all over the world and all walks of life, drinking and eating as much as we liked because we were burning it all off, it was a fabulous way to see parts of such a beautiful country.
Sadly the trip wasn’t without another biking accident though….
One night we were sitting in a quaint little pub after an enjoyable day’s cycling. One side of the pub was a small grocery store, with a polished wooden counter stacked high with various tins and packets and an old-fashioned till, the other side was the bar, where a group of musicians sat nearby in a small circle, playing traditional Irish tunes.
And very good they were too. So good in fact that as a mark of my drunken appreciation, I decided to get down from my stool so that I could have a bit of a ‘jig’ (when in Rome and all that). Unfortunately the stool was rather tall and as I started to shuffle off it, the heels of my ludicrously high sandals got wedged onto the metal frame at the base of it and with my feet staying firmly put as I moved forward, I plummeted head first into the back of one of the musicians (he was playing one of those funny-named Irish drums if my memory serves me right). As I fell, Pud managed to catch hold of the back of my vest top and I clearly remember the poor musician looking round in utter bewilderment as I dangled perilously near to his drumstick with Pud trying to reel me back up to standing by my stretchy top. Oh how we laughed!
….Until the next day when my knee swelled to the size of a football (exaggeration alert) and I had to sit with a bag of frozen ice on it during our lunch-stop. For the rest of that holiday I was known as ‘Bar Stool Kerry’.
So you see, cycling can be very dangerous and you shouldn’t enter into it lightly. I shall be taking things very slowly now I’ve hit my forties (mainly because I’m so unfit) and if you see me wobbling along the road, looking like a proper mushroom-head in my funky ‘safety’ helmet may I request that you don’t pap your horn? I find it hard enough to lift my hand up just to indicate that I’m turning left, let alone wave at you with gay abandon as you whizz past in your car and you really wouldn’t want to be responsible for my next cycling accident…..