One of the best things about blogging, in my opinion, is the people that I have met through blogging, and the amazing attitude that bloggers have about being up for trying anything once. So when I had the opportunity to cruise around Hyde Park on one of the Santander bikes, I knew I wanted Emma to come with me. It took a smidgen of talking her into it as she was a bit nervous about her cycling skills. This was what made Emma my perfect cycling companion. I was 99% sure that I didn’t know how to ride a bike.
Yes, I understand the mechanics of it all, and I even once knew how to ride a bike and was, at the age of 6 quite good at it. But it had been at least 20 years since I had ridden one. The old adage is that “it’s just like riding a bike” aka, once you learn, you never forget. I was convinced this probably wasn’t true and that a lot of things change about someone’s ability to balance in 20 years, but riding these darn bikes has been on my London bucket list for years now so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.
Checking out a bike was way easier than I thought – I was nervous about it so I had read up online – that was completely unnecessary. Literally all you do is insert your debit card and you get printed off a bike pass with your access code. I did have to wait in the queue for about 10 minutes to get my bike, but it makes sense. I chose rush hour in one of the busiest parks in London as my time to learn again. Woe betide those who go cycling in Hyde Park! (What a fool!)
After that it was wobbly sailing. Let it be said, that Emma massively downplayed her cycling skills and her presence gave me the confidence to not topple over. Emma’s lovely mister and Sam were both there as well for moral support and to take anyone to the hospital should the inevitable happen. After a stuttering start, I gradually started to get the hang of it again. By the end of the journey I was stopping by using the breaks not my feet, and once I even made a U-turn without getting off the bike. I did find the other cyclists in Hyde Park who actually knew what they were doing to be a bit intimidating (and sometimes outright scary.) I think another go, at a quieter time and I’ll have my cycling confidence back. A resounding success!
For those who want to learn to ride, or who are far more confident cyclists that I am, the Santander website has a great list of other cycling events and suggested routes!
This photo is a bit disingenuous. It makes it look like I am modelling bike riding technique for Emma. In reality, she’s looking at me with concern and alarm in her eyes as I wobble back and forth, unsure of how to actually go…
The boys had a go too, and rode with far more confidence. That a-hole, Sam, just had to cycle whilst standing up to one-up me.
And here’s a gratuitous photo of pizza as we finished off the evening with a huge pizza feast and some wine. We deserved it, right?
Big thanks to Mr London Kiwi and Sam who taught me to not press the front break before the back break. (I learned on a bike 22 years ago that you backpedaled to put the break on, okay?!)
*Thanks to Santander for making this ride possible!”