I’ve done it! I have cycled (and written about it) every single day in April. Business as usual for many cyclists, and no doubt many of the joyful ones who took the Pledge had more exotic stories to tell. But an achievement for someone like me, relatively new to it, with a largely utilitarian approach as well as mixed feelings and experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, getting on the bike every day, rain or shine, bouncy or tired, and NOT FALLING OFF has been a big boost after the doubts that assailed me in January and caused me to take a two months’ break. I may not be the most joyful of cyclists (making me a bit of an interloper in the 30 Days of Biking community, as joy is in the membership description), I may never even regain the levels of joyfulness I experienced before The Scary Fall, but at least I have replaced dread with calm caution, re-acquainted myself with the practical advantages of cycling and even found some enjoyment in it again.
On this, my last mandatory-cycling-and-writing-about-it day, I attended the ‘Greenbank Gathering’, a community event at a local pub that included a stall by the local Bicycle User Group (BUG). This essentially consisted of a consultation by way of pen, paper and post-its.
I dutifully ticked my favourite items on the “one they made earlier” (training, repairs, secure parking), but didn’t feel I had much to contribute to the flipcharty things as my cycling bugbears (pun intended) are either up to me to improve or otherwise beyond the reach of local initiatives. What would encourage me to cycle more? A bike I can trust and the means to pay someone to fix/service it. A body that made light work of hills and felt comfortable in lycra, jackets that don’t cover its bum and shorts. Eyes that don’t need specs which in turn need a visor when it rains. A wider hallway so getting the bike out isn’t such a faff. Clear rules so everyone knows where they need to be on cycle paths. Cycle lanes that don’t end abruptly at the most dangerous point in the road. Less rain. No potholes. No deceptively lowered pavements that trip you up. No steady drip-drip of horror stories from other cyclists who’ve had a bad fall or been run over, of statistics showing that cycling is more dangerous than driving in the UK. Bike lights that are an integral part of the bike and get charged up by pedalling. Something less heavy and infuriating than D locks for security.
Fortunately there are plenty of reasons to cycle anyway, and plenty of support already available in Bristol (long may it continue). For now I’ll remain a cyclist/pedestrian/driver/public transportee, in whatever order happens to suit me at any given time, and while I enjoyed my 30 Days of Biking, I will also enjoy having the odd day off the bike. And writing about other things!