When I got my £60 second-hand bike, I was estatic.
I was going places I otherwise wouldn’t go to, I was getting to places a lot easier than I could.
But I thought I was very unfit as well.
Other riders whizzed past me on the roads while I struggled to accelerate after stopping at traffic lights.
I could barely make it up hills while others climb right past me.
I had to pedal twice as hard just to keep up with Nasty.
But I persevered, believing that I will one day be as fit as all those cyclists.
At the same time, I couldn’t help but check out other people’s bikes all the time. Theirs look so good, seem to work so well, so efficient.
Many a times, I thought, if only my bike would fall apart, then I would have an excuse to buy a new one!
Yes, be careful what you wish for.
Because the left pedal kept falling off, I started carrying a spanner with me and giving it a few turns every now and then.
Then the back wheel didn’t spin freely. It’s got a bulge in an area that rubs against the brake pads, slowing me down.
Then the bracket (the bit that attaches the pedals to the frame) wobbles.
The bike made strange noises and I was afraid that one day, while riding in traffic, my bike would buckle out from underneath me and I’ll get run over.
Then rolling down Parliament Hill one afternoon, my front wheel somehow got a big cut and both the tire and the inner tube (the tube inside that holds the air and expands the tire) were destroyed. I got a flat tire.
We weighed our options.
Walk it to the bike shop to get it fixed so I can ride home. (But there wasn’t a bike shop anywhere near, and the cost of fixing it all will definitely cost more than what I paid for the bike itself.)
Walk it home and think about it. (Will take a million years. And why do it if I won’t get it fixed anyways?)
Dump it and take the Tube home.
This is what I did:
I wasn’t sad to ditch it. In fact, I was glad I had it because it opened up so many doors for me. It led me to explore more, and realise all that cycling has to offer here.
I was more sheepish to admit I had to ditch it because I was so excited about it at first, I literally told EVERYONE about it…..and look how it’s ended up now. It’s like when you were a kid and brought something amazing in for show and tell, only for it to fall apart not long after. :(
But what the fuck right? I would’ve never bought a more expensive bike, because I didn’t see the point, and I didn’t know if I’d actually enjoy it. Looking back, it was a good start. It had to start that way.
I spent the next 2 weeks bike-searching, visiting numerous bike shops and on Friday, I parted with £300 for this:
This must be one of the most amazing, and expensive things I’ve ever paid for.
All of a sudden, I’m not unfit anymore.
I whizz past cars, buses and cabs. I could accelerate as fast as any other cyclist, and I could climb hills better than some others on the roads.
I was not unfit! The bloody bike was!
It’s super lightweight, it’s very easy to handle and maneuver, and it gives me so much more confidence on the roads.
At least now, instead of worrying about the bike collapsing from underneath me, I can worry more about my skills and the traffic!
I can now ride further, faster and easier, although I’m still building up my confidence riding in traffic.
The first few rides with Nasty helped immensely, because with him leading the way, I didn’t have to worry about navigation, whether I’m going the right way, when I should stop, etc. All I had to worry about was staying alive and not getting run over!
Having had a confidence boost riding with Nasty, I then set out on my own, riding all the way from Chinatown to Victoria Park. I am now more aware that I probably will not get run over, and so can focus on looking at street signs and trying to work out where I’m going.
Having paid £300 (and more due to cost of locks, lights and yet-to-be-bought helmet), my target is to keep my Oyster card (the local pay-as-you-go transportation card) usage to a minimum, and use my bike for what it’s worth!