Last year, my Dad’s wife gave me her old bicycle because she was getting a new one. It had been quite a while since I had my own bike but I was excited to be riding again. The only difference was when I last had my bike, I wasn’t cycling on the roads, but this time I knew it was the best way to get around so today’s post is all about how I felt becoming a cyclist (again).
I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike but I remember getting on this new bicycle and almost falling off. I wasn’t used to it at all and slightly panicked when I thought I was going to have to learn all over again. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and in ten minutes, I was golden. I’ve been wanting to cycle again for such a long time but buying a bicycle was never a priority so I’m very glad I got this opportunity. I didn’t have one sole reason why I wanted to cycle again; I know it’s so good in terms of physical health and an amazing way of transport (depending on where you go of course) so it’s a no-brainer and I wish I had have made it a priority before now.
I took it step by step; I stuck to the footpath most of the time which I’m sure a few pedestrians weren’t pleased about but when you’re first starting out, it’s much safer than being on the road. I didn’t get on the bike much until after I finished up at my previous job so I’ve been using the opportunity to get out on it as much as possible. Over this time, I’ve been using the bus lanes as much as I can and I’m taking full advantage of the greenways we have around the city. I initially became worried about cycling on the roads because you sometimes see the bad attitudes of other drivers and being a driver myself, I have tried not to have the same attitude. I don’t believe that cars rule the road but unfortunately some drivers believe that they do, and in turn, that means they don’t care about anyone but themselves including cyclists. I had visions of drivers beeping their horns at me, not being able to make a turn on the road in case I couldn’t get across because drivers wouldn’t give me the time of day or a line of traffic sitting behind me and I worried that I would becoming panicked all of a sudden. For months before that, I remember openly telling friends that I wouldn’t dare cycle in the city centre on the roads because I had those exact worries.
(One of my favourite cycling trips was up to Carrickfergus for the afternoon. It has the perfect cycle route from Belfast to the town centre.)
I’m seeing so many benefits after a very short while; it helps that I already love going to the gym and I love where I am in terms of running at the minute too but I believe the cycling is making a huge difference to my physical fitness. My legs feel stronger because of it; although a cyclist did pass me a week or two ago and said that I should probably adjust my seat higher because my knees do bend further more than they should, so I’ll try adjusting it to see what happens. I don’t listen to any music or podcasts when I’m cycling because I think it’s important to hear around you, just in case you might miss something behind you or in front, but I’ve enjoyed not having headphones in all the time. I have a bad habit of needing to hear something all the time so whether that is a podcast or music, I can see myself becoming less dependent on it, which I never thought would happen.
(This is part of the cycling route to Carrickfergus and this particular location is Hazelbank Beach, very close to Jordanstown and Loughshore Beach. It’s a favourite of mine for running and cycling.)
As surprising as it is to write this, I haven’t had that many bad experiences so far. While there has been a car or two get a little too close trying to speed past me to get around the corner, that’s about the height of it. I do get a little self-conscious because I know I’m slower than a car or a bus and I’m worried about holding someone up, but I soon got over that when I realised I had every right to be there as another vehicle. (Plus the cycling community around Northern Ireland also told me this on Twitter, which was lovely)
We’re always in such a rush nowadays and being a driver, I can understand the frustration of being behind something slower but we do all need to realise that whether you are driving a car, bus or a van or riding a motorcycle or bicycle, we all have the right to use the road. As long as everyone sticks to the road rules, then we shouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately, I’ve heard (and seen) some horror stories (especially on Twitter) against cyclists but I’m glad that I haven’t had those experiences.
I can’t wait to start exploring more of the city because I absolutely love using the greenways. I don’t think I’ll be taking part in any races, I prefer to have cycling as a hobby rather than turning it into a competitive sport but full power to those who race in races competitively. Thank you so much for taking the time to read today’s post, I really appreciate it!