07 October 2010

On yer bike

This week has been all about the bicycles.

First, M learned to ride her new Islabike without stabilisers - and proudly tootled off into Dalby Forest on her first foray off-road. We've been really impressed by the Islabike - it's incredibly light and easy to pedal, and the child-sized grips and brakes are excellent. We were also really impressed by the grin on the small child as she finally 'got' it, and zoomed off through the puddles...

Next, Orb and I decided to find a bike each too - on the grounds that M's new-found enthusiasm for two wheels should be encouraged, and that it would help us all get out and about in the fresh air at weekends.

However, it's quite a while since we've done this cycling lark. I last had wheels at university - an ancient road bike that I painted bright green, which gradually had all its useful bits like panniers and bike lights nicked. Bike theft was rampant in Cambridge - you never knew if the thing would still be there when you came back from the library or teetered out from the pub. Everyone used to turn up to lectures carrying enormous bags - not of books, but bike saddles, clip off lights and baskets.

Orb, meanwhile, sold his bike as a teenager to buy his acoustic bass...so hasn't cycled for years either. In a burst of poetic justice, he's put his Kurzweil piano on eBay to top up the bicycle fund (hopefully his bike will weigh a darn sight less than Wilma).

Anyway, after a lot of research, we picked out the ones we liked. I ended up with a second-hand mountain bike (a Trek 3700 since you ask) from eBay, which has 21 gears. Given my last bike had three, this might be overkill, although I'm quite looking forward to the prospect of hurtling down and up a few hills. I suspect I'll be shouting "wheeeeee" as I head downwards, which may not be quite the done thing...

We shoehorned my bike into the back of our car to bring home (never try this in an Audi A2, folks). Orb's hybrid, however, arrived in the post today in possibly the largest cardboard box I've seen for some time, with a rather harassed courier man staggering under the weight. Once he's assembled it, it will be excellent, but for the moment it's in the corner of the dining room in about 300 pieces. I can recognise the pedals and wheels, but that's about the limit of my bike mechanic skills.

Now all we need to find is a couple of helmets, and a means of transporting the bikes. Central Gateshead really isn't conducive to cycling with a small child, so we're thinking forests, parks...in fact, countryside of any description. Whether we can actually remember how to ride the damn things, remains to be seen...

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