Nature

Cycling Adventures in Hyde Park

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!
bike on the ground
entering bike code
taking out a bike
whispering to the bike

Whispering to the bike that if he takes care of me, I’ll take care of him. 

getting started biking with emma

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… 

balancing with emma
wind beneath our wings
cycling

I included this photo for the sheer fact that it reminds me of when Elmira Gulch rides by on her bicycle inside the tornado in “Wizard of Oz”. 

cycling in motion
santander cycles
posing with my bike
sam on a bike

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. 

wheels
bikes in hyde park
pizza
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!”

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  • That was the best, craziest evening – thank you again for the invitation! I think you seriously downplayed your prowess…!

    • Hahah not at all! But you definitely downplayed yours. It was such a strange but delightful Tuesday evening! xx

  • Haven’t been on a bike for like 10 years and seriously afraid that I can’t ride bikes anymore. Maybe I should give it a try again too πŸ˜‰

    • If I can relearn, I think anyone can relearn. I don’t particularly have a natural prowess for athleticism. x

  • This sounds like such a blast! I love bike riding but get nervous if there are people around me.

  • You did it though, and you look very much like a pro! I spent my entire teenage years whizzing around on a bike because I live in the middle of nowhere and before you could drive, it was the only way you got to go and see your friends! Alice xx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

  • You do not whisper to bikes. You calmly announce that you are going to ride them like a b*tch then you make good on that promise. Also, no knee pads or helmets? 😱

    • I know. I’m a walking advertisement for unsafe cycling. That is the weird thing about Boris Bikes – on one hand the city is super keen to encourage the use of helmets (as they should) and on the other, they have this whole scheme that enables stupid, clueless people like me to ride with zero safety gear. x

  • You look terribly elegant riding that bike! I always see them whizzing around and am tempted to give them a try, but it’s been so long that I’m petrified… and i’m clumsy enough just walking. I might be brave enough to try it in a park though, and it looks like so much fun! x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

    • Hyde Park was super busy and it made me quite nervous. If I was going to “do over” this experience, I would have chosen a more isolated place to relearn! x

  • You look like a pro!! I rented a bike in New Orleans a couple years ago and it was a disaster. I was ALLLL over the place. Lol, so much for that “you never forget how to ride a bike”.

    • It’s such bullshit! You definitely forget how to ride a bike. Case in point- both of us! I was really really anxious when I first got on! x

  • I just recently got into cycling, and the only accident I have had is using a Santander bike whilst standing still because they are so bloody heavy, so good on you for embracing it and looking so smooth!

    /www.emmainks.com

    • Smooth rider I was not, but I have WAY more respect for those who cycle to work now, because I was terrified even in the biking path in the park! x

  • Exciting! I fell off a bike a couple of years ago and broke my wrist (as facebook so kindly reminded me recently…) and it took a loooong while to get my confidence back, but getting there eventually!
    Rosie xx

  • I just got a bike for my birthday and it makes me so, so happy. And I haven’t ridden in a few years. I still haven’t tried any of these city bikes though…must get around to that at some point. Oh and loving your outfit in this one. xx

    • A) Thank you. B ) the city bikes are pretty darn heavy! Also turns out I’m the most trepidatious cycler ever x

  • I’ve wondered more than once whether or not I’d be able to ride a bike without murdering myself after so many years. Kudos on getting your bike legs (like sea legs, only less wobbly) back! Sam looks like he’s on a runaway bike XD

    • Sam is such a show off sometimes πŸ˜‰ He never rides bikes either and should be as scared as me- but no. x

  • Kelly

    Nice! I’m like 99% sure I can’t ride a bike either. The last time I did it, I was proably four. And people say you don’t forget, but I’m like 3x bigger now and don’t even remember doing it really! So maybe I’ll try it out sometime for realz πŸ™‚

    • Hahahaha yes! This is EXACTLY how I felt. My centre of gravity was crazy different and I think it’s harder to ride now that we are bigger πŸ˜‰ x

  • I’m actually a pretty solid rider, so when my husband invited me to bike on one of our first dates, I was like SURE. He failed to inform me he and his friends would bike 40-50KM on Russian highways in the middle of the night to see Red Square at 4AM.

    Never again. I am now terrified of biking and avoid it if at all possible haha!

  • Ha! This is adorable. And yeah – front brake is only if you want to fly Superman-style over your handlebars! πŸ˜‰ I remember when I bought my bike a few years ago, I was nervous to test ride it at the store because I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. But I’m confident in the saddle again and now I ride as much as I can!

    • Haha, I’m lucky I didn’t have an accident. I didn’t get the front brake tip right away πŸ˜‰ xx

  • how fun that you got to meet up! Taipei has a bike rental system similar to this that I need to try… but I also am a bit rusty on my biking skills πŸ™‚

    • It’s really reasonably priced in London. How is the Taipei one? xx

      • it starts at 5NT for the first 30 minutes, then goes up to 10NT/ 30 min for the next 4 hours, then up to 20 or 40NT if you have the bike up to 8 hours or longer. sine 30NT = 1 USD I would say very reasonable! 4 hours would be less than $3 US.

  • This sounds so fun! I can completely relate to that terrified “there’s no way I can still ride a bike after 20 years” feeling – I was the same, but it comes back to you pretty easily I think! Going downhill is the only thing that freaks me out these days! x

  • You daredevil. Well done!

    I tried cycling once, but it’s just too stressful for me as I am used to the Dutch cycling paths luxury. Maybe one they’ll have them in London.

  • No shock, horror at all! I think it’s A-ok to not know how! x

  • There’s no way I could cycle in London traffic – it’d give me a heart attack! x

  • I just discovered your very awesome blog from Emma. I have never rode a bike in London, and though I would attempt to ride in a park, I would never ride on a street. I see bikers weaving in between the buses and cars all over London, and I think “OMG how is that person alive??”… I’m kind of a chicken, but I do think the Barclays.. I mean Santander bikes are a brilliant idea! I hope you’re having a great weekend, Tammy

    • Thank you so much Tammy! Emma is an absolute legend! I actually had to work yesterday and today so I’m looking forward to my Monday off! Hope you’ve had a great weekend! xx

      • Our big 3 day weekend is coming up! I’m seriously looking forward to the break. I just went by your blog and saw you were baking… like… a professional. Mind Blown, I can barely bake a box cake!

  • I was seriously rubbish but I had a great time! xx