January 03, 2016 0 Comments
There’s no getting away from it: I am a New Cyclist.
Let’s be clear: I’m not a new cyclist. I learned to ride a bike over forty years ago. In the meantime I’ve ridden a lot, on and off, and covered thousands of miles. Years ago, when I lived in Germany, I cycled everywhere, mostly on a borrowed 1950s delivery boy's bike made by Miele, which handled like (and weighed as much as) a washing machine.
More recently, when I had a real job in the City, I used to commute by bike, meaning I spent about an hour and a half a day in the saddle. I’ve even been on couple of cycling holidays, one of which I inflicted on my family (see below for evidence).
What I mean by “New Cyclist” is this. I’m in my mid-forties. I used to be an investment banker. I’m a couple of stone overweight. I like coffee, and I froth my own milk. I ride a carbon-framed bike I bought from Wiggle. I have a motley collection of (mostly lycra) cycling kit which I chose almost entirely on the basis of online reviews written by people I've never heard of. Even if I had mates to go riding with, I would have no idea how to ride in a group. I am very intimidated by the idea of joining a cycling club. I’m even intimidated by cycling shops: places which, in my experience, often resemble the hi-fi stores satirised by Not the Nine O’Clock News. In short, I’m a Nigel.
What’s more, there is no chance I will ever graduate to being a Clifford. I’m not going to devote my life to cycling. I’m not going to train for six hours a day. I’m not going to give up beer altogether. I’m not going to starve myself, or take PEDs like some of the amateur clowns trying to “win” sportives, or live on pollen like Robert Millar did.
But I don’t care. I really do enjoy cycling: not just the turning-the-pedals bit, but the whole thing: the history, the culture, the kit, the story, the sport, the sheer variety of it all. To me, the bicycle is more than just a form of transport. I’m not just a commuter or a fairweather friend of the bike. So I’m a cyclist, even if the Cliffords resent my saying so.
So I could just keep pedalling around on my own. I’d be quite happy doing that. But I’ve decided that this year will be different. I’m not under any illusions about my talents or prospects; nor do I care if (OK, when) I get overtaken by (if you will forgive the antediluvian, male-chauvinist-pig term) girls. But I am going to take matters a bit more seriously.
To this end, I have compiled a list of New Year’s Resolutions for the New Cyclist. Here goes:
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