I have run quite mad.

Possibly working on the principle of “of you can’t beat them, join them,” I have gone and bought (well, put a deposit down on, anyway), a bicycle.

But not just any bicycle, oh no. Having tried, and utterly failed, to imagine myself perched atop some hulking great mountain bike or stripped-down racer, I bought one of these. A Pashley Princess Sovereign, in green, which I shall swish about on, in stately fashion. Or fall off a lot, possibly. Isn’t she lovely?

I used to love cycling, but when I moved to London, I was (an still am), horrified by the behaviour of the majority a certain subset* of London cyclists. Running red lights, cycling on the pavement, going the one way down one way streets and generally behaving like complete lunatics.

I will not be one of those cyclists, and I would like to thank three people in particular, namely Anna, Clare and Patrick, for reminding me that it is possible to cycle in London without turning into a homicidal maniac.

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Timbo at Evans Cycles, my new bike will be arriving in the Canary Wharf branch within the week. I am spending the intervening days sorting out refresher lessons (I really hope that the phrase “it’s like riding a bike, you never forget,” is true), reading the Highway Code, and working out cycling routes that will not take me anywhere near the Mile End Road, as well as deciding on a name for her so she can have her own Twitter account. Obviously.

If anyone’s got any hints, tips, helpful links and so on, please leave them in the comments. The purchase of a helmet, a heavy-duty lock and more lights than the average civic Christmas display can be taken as read.

*On consideration, damning the majority of London cyclists as psychotic nutcases seems a little unfair. My apologies.

17 thoughts on “I have run quite mad.

  1. She is indeed splendid.

    I agree avoiding the Mile End Road is extremely wise. It was that, along with a dodgy knee, that ended my career as a cyclist in London. I feel a blog post reminiscing about those days coming on.

  2. Simon: Isn’t she just? Couldn’t quite see myself haring around and getting all sweaty on some ultralight and thin racing bike. Overbalancing on those terribly thin tyres, yes. Getting anywhere on it, not so much.

    Japes: I cycled down the Mile End Road once, and swore never again. Scared me witless.

  3. Classy looking bike!

    I’ve never cycled in London, experience elsewhere teaches me that the route is king. I guess there must be local resources for finding routes in London.

  4. Bill: they’re still made in the factory in Stratford-upon-Avon. Partly why I bought her – given the choice, I’d rather that my money supported UK industry.

  5. As a London cyclist for the past 20 years I’m wary of many things, but particularly unheedful pedestrians. One more person on a bike is good news. Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Recently blogged myself on an out-of-town ride. http://bit.ly/bT4FX8

  6. Steve, welcome. I’ve always tried to be a “heedful” pedestrian, both in London and elsewhere. Hopefully, I will be a heedful cyclist as well, and do things like stop at red lights. But the Lands End to John O’Groats route, with or without Lycra, will probably not be in my sights any time soon!

  7. Small Casserole: I’ve found a couple of route planners that won’t send me down the Mile End Road, always keen for more.

    First thing, of course, will be to get her home from Canary Wharf.

  8. Ah, welcome to the cycling world again – I cycle to work everyday, but mind you, I don’t live in London 😛

  9. Hurrah for UK manufacturing!
    She is a fine steed indeed.
    Can I suggest that you add her to your contents insurance? Somebody else might take an illegal liking to her.
    Also, I wear a reflective vest in winter. Makes me look as if I’m a road digger and I can probably be spotted from outer space when wearing it but at least pesky car drivers cannot make the excuse of not having seen me.

  10. kerensa

    She’ll be on the household insurance with effect from Friday morning, thanks to the helpful lady at my insurance company.

    Reflective vest is on the shopping list!

  11. I rather think someone has already pointed you in the direction of the Cyclechic blog but do go and peruse it. I am still coveting the tweed cape with reflective stuff woven in that was mentioned there once (I think it’s from Dashing Tweeds). Sadly I can’t quite bring myself to pay the money required for it.

  12. I’m bathed in admiration, never having got the hang of letting go the handlebars long enough to signal.

    Don’t forget a waterproof cape thingy – it may not be the West of Ireland, but you can still get nastily wet .

  13. That is one beautiful machine. Good choice.

    Unfashionable as it is, there is probably a need for some sort of trouser-clippage if you intend to wear trousers to cycle (I have no information about cycling in a skirt – never tried it, probably never will). I’ve never quite felt able to fulfil the stereotype of the curate with bicycle clips, but used the tucking trousers into socks option instead – still not attractive, but functional.

    Other things I found useful when cycling in a city were: face-wipes, a loud bell, portable puncture repair kit and a pair of gloves that don’t mind getting oil on them.

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