Sunday, October 31, 2010

On my bike

Back on two wheels, self powered. And though I've found it is true that you never forget how, the whole bicycle thing has changed substantially.

It has been a good few years now since I last rode a bike. And many more years before that since I bought one. So there are a lot of new things to get my head around.

Like helmets. Like 21 gears. Like front fork suspension. And a pump with a built-in pressure gauge, no less.

And then there are the old reliables that you get to remember very quick. Such as not looking at an upcoming pothole, or you'll ride right into it (and there are an awful lot of potholes not to look at just now!). And tuning the ears for sounds from behind, especially when it isn't as easy to turn and look back as it was when on my first 'proper' bike 55 years ago, riding into school in Newbridge, to the 'Brothers'.

That one was a Raleigh Sports, straight handlebars, lightweight plastic mudguards, and a Dynohub lighting system (which never gave as much light as the 'bottle' dynamos that all my pals had). The frame was red, the mudguards and handgrips white. It was stylish and strong and served me well once I was able to ride up Kinneagh Hill without stopping.

(Later I could do that with no hands; in fact all of us doing that school ride could go no hands all the way to Newbridge, but that's not a story for today's safety-conscious. Besides, there wasn't nearly as much traffic.)

My new bike is a Carrera Crossfire, supplied by Halfords in Naas and very efficiently sized, built and outfitted by Ruth, in charge of the bicycle department. While I was aware of the difference between road and mountain bikes, I had to learn about 'hybrid', in the Crossfire's case a bike which is mainly road but is designed to travel also on some medium-rough tracks.

Right, getting back on a bike in the headlong rush to winter isn't necessarily the best time. But I'm out there several times a week at the moment, and we'll see how things go. Whatever, it's nice to be able to travel a bit further around the area than I do walking, and it's fun (and a little bit hairy) sorting out the safer routes again. And renewing acquaintance with long forgotten muscles is interesting.

This is primarily an exercise in some mild exercise itself, as well as taking things a bit more slowly than my normal four wheels and an engine mode of transport. How far it develops, and how far I'll get to travel, remains to be seen.