Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been much of a cyclist. On a Year 6 school trip to Rottnest, an island that has no cars on it and thus must be cycled around, my lacklustre biking skills meant I was relegated to the group of slow, uncoordinated pedallers known as the ‘Lerts’. As in, “I’m a Lert.” Because we had to be alert and look out for danger (danger being any small twigs or slight unevenness in the road that threatened to throw us headfirst over our handlebars, such was our non-mastery of bicycles).
So it was no surprise that I was nervous about getting a bike last year. I’d researched it for a bit beforehand (by which I mean I’d visited Copenhagen Cycle Chic a bunch of times) and found my perfect bike – a beautiful red Sommer from Papillionaire – but I was still pretty scared to ride on a road with cars. What if I was too slow? What if I wasn’t stable enough to take my hands off the handlebars for long enough to signal? What if I looked like a knob on my hipster bike in a distinctly non-hipster town? But I’m so glad I went through with it, because this little lady has been instrumental in my health and fitness journey. Meet Madeline:
I ride her to uni, to work and pretty much everywhere I need to go (except for grocery shopping… lugging two jam-packed enviro bags of groceries up a massive hill is not fun. Lesson learnt!). Because I live in a small town, it’s usually faster to ride than it is to drive and attempt to find parking. And the best part is that, even though it’s exercise, it really, really doesn’t feel like it. It’s just how I get around. Plus it means that I arrive at uni pumped and ready to go, not half-asleep after an early morning car ride.
I recently had the pleasure of riding my little red bike through town, dressed as a Christmas elf, with red and green helium balloons attached to the rack. I was on my way home from a job handing out balloons and lollies to kids in the lead-up to Christmas, and though that was pretty damn fun in itself, it was nothing compared to careening down a hill with a balloon-laden bike, waving at children, yelling out Christmas greetings to passersby and being beeped at by friendly (…I hope) truckies. I either looked entirely festive or entirely insane.
This is the main thing, I guess: exercise should be something you do because it’s enjoyable or useful in itself, not because it’s a path towards weight loss. I guess some people really enjoy Body Attack classes (good on them!) but for me they were always a painful hour of checking the clock to see if it was almost time for the cooldown. The reason I’ve stuck with cycling is because it’s become so much a part of my life; it’s a convenient way of getting around that just happens to be calorie-burning. And because it can be quite exhilarating, and because I enjoy riding my awesome *cough* hipster *cough* bike. Plus, I save a load of money on petrol, which is a nice bonus.
And, finally, I can say that I’m a competent cyclist – that’s right, Year 6 Self, I’m no longer a Lert. NICE.