I have discovered cycling. Don’t worry: I’m not about to don lycra, spend thousands of pounds on a racing bike, and start posting (boasting?) my Strava stats on social media. It’s just that I have discovered the pleasure that cycling can bring. Suddenly, on two wheels, any journey is fun.
I have my new Finnish friends Heidi and Matti to thank (pictured above). On Tuesday morning, after the wine symposium, they took me cycling round Tampere. Heidi’s boyfriend lent me his bike, which was very kind of him. It was great – although it had a pedal-backwards rear brake. I’ve never experienced one of these before, and it takes some getting used to.
We rode through parks, along woodland tracks, and beside a lake. We climbed quite high (at one point I confess I walked the steepest bit), and stopped to admire the view. We also stopped to climb a tower (the Pynnikki observation tower) and ate some of the world’s greatest donuts. And then headed back into town for some lunch in the marketplace (Kauppahalli).
It was such fun. So today I decided to replicate the exercise – to cycle in this corner of west London. First, I needed a bike. Younger son has a decent adult sized bike – a Ridgeback – but it hadn’t been used in ages, and he’d made some modifications that rendered it unusable. The handlebars were too loose, so I had to construct a shim out of garden wire, which worked nicely. The brakes needed adjusting. And the seat was far too thin: my bottom was still sore from Tuesday. So I bought a cheap soft gel saddle. But it didn’t fit the mount, so I had to improvise with a new seat pole, which was too thin. This had to be made thicker with plumbers tape – a total bodge, but it worked.
Along the Crane to Twickenham. Along the Thames to Richmond. Across the bridge and along the river to Teddington. Cross over the lock, then a pint of Sierra Nevada at the Anglers. Then through Bushy Park to Hampton Court. Then a coffee back in Bushy. Then home. So much fun. I think I shall be cycling more.