First, a confession. It’s been a very long time since I last threw my legs over a bike and rode off on the road. While I like to think of myself as an active person, cycling is one activity I’ve never really been desperate to re-acquaint myself with until COVID-19 upturned our lives.
However, fired up by the social deprivation that is life in lockdown, I decided to get back in the saddle and give the whole bike thing another try. Naturally, I bought the latest cycling gear and helmet online. After my first few rides, I added a GoPro to my helmet and recorded a few of my adventures.
Now Is A Fabulous Time To Explore
I bought a bike during COVID-19 to focus on gentle exercise in a bid to maintain my physical fitness. However, I quickly discovered now is the perfect time to switch things up and explore my neighbourhood and the broader local area. I haven’t lived in my current suburb for that long, so I found riding around my local area was a great way to discover interesting nooks and parklands. You’ll be surprised by what you discover.
Yet another COVID-19 trend is the subtle art of ‘Burbing.’ At its heart, it’s a simple concept. To ‘burb’ all you need to do is to head out on your regular ride and then ride down every street and around every park in your suburb. If you want a little technological backup, fit a GPS unit to your handlebars and track your progress.
Similarly, attach a GoPro to your helmet and gather a cyclists’ eye footage. The majority of suburbs are way too large to cover in a single, ride, so try dividing your suburb up into blocks and cover it over successive rides?
Whatever your approach, Burbing is a great way to get out in the fresh air and explore your local suburb.
While overall, I’ve quite enjoyed my new-found cycling independence, I was surprised by what I’ve learned after joining the throng of regular leisure cyclists. Here are seven observations I’ve taken to heart.
1. Bike Seats Are The Instruments Of The Devil
With all the advances in materials science, you’d think someone, somewhere could create a comfortable bicycle seat. Please! The default setting on my bike was really, really hard! Welcome to numb bum territory. Tolerable for leisure cycling, I can’t see myself adopting my bicycle for my daily commute assuming there is such a thing ever again!
2. Pedestrians Are Not Your Friend
Who would have thought that in an era where the COVID-19 peril lurks around every social encounter, pedestrians would get their thrills by dicing with death with my bicycle? Countless times, they seem to go out of their way to put themselves in harm’s way playing dodge ‘em with my bicycle.
3. No, You Don’t Look Good Wearing Lycra
One of the great tragedies of contemporary life is the upsurge in lycra-wearing over 50 guys. It seems these days there are more of the over 50s wearing lycra than under 30s. That can’t be a good thing. All those middle-aged men in lycra (MAMILs) with their gaudy outfits are doing nothing for either their credibility or their allure. Sadly, gentlemen, lycra does nothing to advertise your charms. You have been warned!
4. Cars Are Scary
The downside to riding a bike is you’re either at the bottom of the food chain, mobile roadkill or dicing with death on cycling paths with hardcore riders. Traffic of any form can be very scary. As a bike rider, you are fair game for everyone and anyone to pull out in front of you or open their car door onto your riding path. It’s a case of rider beware!
5. Balance Is Not My Superpower
This whole riding thing seems to demand a far greater sense of balance than I remember. I’m conscious that every time I take my hand off the handlebars to indicate I’m effectively dicing with the devil! Sadly, I’m constantly reminded that balance is so not my superpower. Sigh.
6. History Repeats
Regularly taking to the cycle paths and roads inspired me to track down some old VHS tapes I had in the attic. Dad captured my early wobbly attempts to master my first bike. Having watched them, I figured now was the time to take advantage of VHS to Digital technology to transfer those old shots combined with GoPro footage to the Cloud. I shared them with my folks during our next Zoom call and it was great.
My grandparents aren’t as technology savvy as my parents so I transferred my old videotapes to digital using VHS to DVD technology and mailed a DVD to my grandparents. They can run their DVD player and it proved to be a lovely way to keep memories old and new, fresh in their minds.
7. No One Indicates!
One surprising observation I’ve made since I’ve taken to two wheels is that the art of indicating is fast disappearing from our roads. And, it’s not just drivers who are at fault, it’s my fellow cyclists too! Far too many riders seem hell-bent on crouching over their handlebars and going just as fast as they can while throwing courtesy and indicating to the wind.
Ah, the sultry seductive siren song of an electric bike, it beckons every time I find myself struggling up a hill or surrounded by heavy traffic. e-Bikes come into their own when it comes to getting away at traffic lights if you abandon cycle paths and take to the road. There’s much to be said about e-Bikes compared to their traditional rivals. It’s not a matter of being lazy and indolent. Sometimes you just need a shot of power. And again, none of us is getting any younger!
Okay, much has changed since I last took to the road on two wheels. However, if COVID-19 is going to turn my world upside down, then I’m going to channel my inner wellness fiend and make cycling my own new normal. Sure dodging traffic and my fellow cyclists is a refined blood sport but I’m determined to stick with it and enjoy the opportunity to be outside getting some exercise.