Recently, I plucked up the courage to face London’s filthy roads, for the first time without the help of an engine, four wheels and a chassis. Bicycle time.
I had been suffering with man flu/the death virus for a few days before the big event (first ride) and RCUK editor Richard “the Pheasant” Hallett had ‘leased’ me the Boardman CX Pro from the site cycle broom cupboard for the occasion.
After a compulsory hour of ‘beginners training’, which included how to fix a puncture and change gears etc… I was eventually allowed to swing a stumpy leg over the steed.
I raced off round the Islington block in full Magicalia civvies (jeans, sweater, white trainers) and the feeling of sheer elation that struck me was fantastic. “Why have I left it so long?” I thought to myself. At 30, I thought I’d started way too late.
However, I soon realised, it’s not about what I’ve missed, rather what’s to look forward to. No more tube, no more public transport full stop! Plus, I get to do one of the most funnest things I’ve done in a long time – ride a bike.
Now then, the chaps (RH, DA, GS) have been great in helping me through my ‘early bike years’ and have been a big help in how to approach the road with confidence.
“Do you drive?” says RH. “Yes” I reply. [After a fashion – ed.] “Then the exact same principles apply when riding a road bike” says RH. “Follow this advice and you can’t go wrong.” The Phez had struck a lasting chord.
Applying my driving knowledge has been a big advantage to facing the road on a bike and following this advice would be advisable to any newbie: stop at traffic lights and don’t go hooning along without paying attention to what’s around you. Eyes up, my friend.
If you go through traffic lights, then that’s your problem – but be prepared to face the consequences.
“What’s wrong with trainers?” I say. “Nothing” says RH, “But you’ll not get any power down, and your feet will flex”.
He was right – again.
Right then, I need cycling shoes. As I’m not ready for the joys of clipless just yet, I was looking for some ‘crossover’ shoes – good for standard pedals, and good for the pavement.
A quick google search bought up Bontrager’s Street model.
I showed them to RH, and he dissed them immediately. “They are no good,” he said, followed less than five seconds later by … “Hang on – I might need some of these to test myself” ;-)
Two days later my “Streets” arrived. Straight out the box, I liked them. Really nice styling and very comfortable.
However, I was more interested in how they performed. Even on flattie pedals; clipless will come later.
The difference is tremendous. I can now go faster and I feel more secure on the bike. Trainer sole flex is now a thing of the past and stability has taken over. Best of all, I got them for £50 – the price of some new trainers, funnily enough.
If you are thinking of taking up cycling to work, decent shoes are a must. Take it from me (the trainer-happy, pub-dwelling person).
I may be allowed to write a few more words soon, and who knows? Maybe the joys of potholes, small dogs (leadless) and BMW drivers may be in my next blog.