It’s Bike Week and as a member of Team14 and as an Active Travel Champion and spokesman (I do like a pun) for both Sustrans and Paths For All, I thought I’d take a break from running (albeit for only 24 hours) and wheel out my bike and my thoughts..
My decision to get back in the saddle was partly inspired by a recent trip to Copenhagen, where I ran a marathon (there are possibly Amazon tribes who still haven’t heard this). Not only do the Danes love running (1 in 3 run), but everywhere you look, people are going to work, school and even to evening parties on bikes.
It’s not surprising then that Copenhagen is probably the happiest and best place to live in the world.
So while some people are complaining about lane and road closures in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games, I am excited that this will be an Active Games. I make no secret that walking and then running to and from work were instrumental in transforming my life. I also discovered, to my surprise, that I didn’t melt in the rain. If we can continue improving our routes to the Games venues, we can encourage more to get to them by foot and bike. The challenge then will be to continue this progress and build on the great work by organisations such as the Bike Station who today, in partnership with Glasgow City Council, launched their Nextbike Hire Scheme. For the next three years residents and visitors to Glasgow can hire bikes, a la Boris style, to get about our wonderful city.
Bike Station were also present at the Pollok Park Cycle Fair on Saturday, 14th June, and in addition to getting my bike security stamped by the Police, I took the opportunity to sample some other forms of cycling. They say two heads are better than one and surely four legs peddling is even better, but sitting behind, with no control felt just a little uneasy, even though I was in capable hands. Rather than cycling in tandem, I felt like a spare part, simply responding (usually belatedly) to instructions from my main steer.
I needed to feel in control. So, launching myself and my bike off a ramp and onto a huge airbag made perfect sense. Even the warning sign and the attendant’s admission that yes, I could get hurt, only made me want to do it more. As I’ve grown fitter and stronger, I’ve also seemingly become invincible. I had the Men’s 10K the following day, but what could go wrong? After a few minutes warming up I was adjudged to be confident and competent enough on the special stunt bikes to tackle the ramp. I readied myself and powered my way towards new heights of awesomeness.
I’d like to report that I flew into the air, with birds scrambling out of my way, but in reality, I was reliable informed, I simply flopped over the side, with the now evident bruising (and earlier swelling) on my knees paying testimony to my ungainly landing. Unlike young Gregor Robb, from Hamilton, who seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before landing perfectly. My evaluation of my lack of elevation was simply that I was too big and heavy. Gravity does not lie. However, I was not to be beaten and buoyed by my new stunt rider status, I decided to test my cycling skills further. For in Pollok Park, where I spent much of my childhood, there is a new reason for me to head into the woods.
“a first step into steep terrain, varied surfaces and a chance to get your wheels off the ground.The Blue route requires skill and concentration to get the best out of yourself and your bike.”
And yes, my wheels DID leave the ground. I narrowly avoided several trees and my heart was racing, not only from the the exertion of climbing the inclines, but from the exhilaration of the descents. It was brilliant fun and I can now understand why several of my friends regularly go mountain biking.
Bike Week lasts from 14th-22nd June with activities across the country, from organised group bike rides to bike surgeries, where you can give your bike some much needed tlc.