How to suck at ... bik­ing

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHLOE RANFORD

A jar­gon-free run­down on how to suck at cy­cling, as writ­ten by some­one who does, truly, suck at cy­cling.

Among the great first-world prob­lems I grap­pled with upon ar­riv­ing in Blen­heim was whether or not to buy a bike. A bike would get me to work in around 15 min­utes – al­most triple the time it would take for me to walk the same dis­tance – and cost next to noth­ing when com­pared to the cost of a car. It seemed like the right thing to do. And I’d like to think it was. But, boy, do I suck at it.

Step one: Get an e-bike, be­cause you’re ‘‘lazy’’.

I’m not say­ing that peo­ple who ride e-bikes are lazy. But I’m the ex­cep­tion. It’s not that I hate ex­er­cise, it’s just that ex­er­cise hates me. It’s harsh, it’s tough and it’s ugly. I bought an e-bike to counter that. And why not? For those not in the know, e-bikes are bi­cy­cles with a bat­tery-pow­ered as­sist that give you a boost so you can cruise around with­out gassing your­self. One ped­dle on the e-bike’s Sports Mode gets you al­most five times the dis­tance of a nor­mal ped­dle. You feel like the fastest cy­clist in the world. It’s fan­tas­tic. Un­til your bat­tery dies, as mine did af­ter two weeks of no charg­ing. Then, it’s a sweat fes­ti­val.

Step two: Don’t wear high vis­i­bil­ity gear.

If I re­ceived a nickle for every time I al­most got hit by a car, I’d have a whole lot of loose change. Those fa­mil­iar with me would know that, be­fore Blen­heim, I was al­ways on the other side of the cy­clist-driver con­flict. I drove ev­ery­where. But I drove in Aus­tralia, where most peo­ple live far away from ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing. This is Blen­heim. And all this leads up to the fact that I never had a grasp for how nuts roads were as a cy­clist un­til I tried to ped­dle home. With­out high vis­i­bil­ity gear, it’s al­most as if I’m in­vis­i­ble. There was a time on the Boyce St pedes­trian cross­ing when two driv­ers drove through the in­ter­sec­tion ... while I was on it. An­other time, on Bat­tys Rd, a ve­hi­cle tried to pull into the Blen­heim In­door Sports carpark and was kind enough to at­tempt to take me with it. That’s the kind of level we’re talk­ing about here. But de­spite the sev­eral near-misses, I still can’t bring my­self to buy a hi-vis vest. Fash­ion and all that. Step three: Fail to in­di­cate. When it comes to cor­ner­ing, the surest path to peace is to use one arm to in­di­cate while rolling to a stop. But not for me. When I try to in­di­cate, my cen­tre of bal­ance flies out the win­dow. I feel like there was some sort of howto bike les­son I missed out on in the tot­ter days of cy­cling. Be­cause, frankly, not a day goes by when I don’t al­most top­ple of my bike at­tempt­ing to in­di­cate with my arm. It’s ex­cit­ing stuff. Or mor­ti­fy­ingly em­bar­rass­ing. I’ve yet to de­cide.

Step four: Get a bike bas­ket, but only on one side.

When I went to buy my e-bike, I was given a choice. One bas­ket or two. But I saw through the logic of that one. Two bas­kets would be a com­plete overkill con­sid­er­ing the amount of shop­ping I wished to lug around each week and, not to men­tion, rob me of a small for­tune. So, I bought just the one, think­ing along the lines of, ‘that will set­tle that’. When it was in­stalled on the right side of the bike, I was as­sured that it wouldn’t af­fect my bal­ance. And it didn’t... un­til I de­cided to shove a week’s worth of shop­ping into it. It was non­sense of the high­est or­der. Some­how, a cou­ple of veges (and, if I’m hon­est, a big bar of choco­late) had crip­pled my bike. It took a Her­culean kick to get the bike in mo­tion, and when I did, the thing leaned pre­car­i­ously to one side.

All eyes were on me as I hob­bled out of the park­ing lot. Once I got up to speed the weight dis­trib­uted a lot more but, by this stage, the dam­age to my self­es­teem had been done. I will never show my face in pub­lic again.

SCOTT HAM­MOND

Re­porter Chloe Ranford con­tin­ues her ’how-to-suck-at’ se­ries with a sum­mary of her time cy­cling around Blen­heim.

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