Simple Life 3

Riding a bike is not only a simple pleasure but it’s also good for your health. For some time now I’ve been deliberating about doing some form of exercise. I can’t seem to stick to an exercise regime on my own plus my shoulder is still somewhat frozen. I love swimming but I just can’t get motivated to do it – I think it’s the cold weather that puts me off. That and the thought of having to get in my car and drive somewhere just to exercise doesn’t really appeal. I walk and I garden and that’s about it. I know that it’s not enough, especially as I think that fitness and health contribute to a fine 3rd act. So I decided to start cycling.

When I was a child my favourite pastime was riding my bike and I spent most afternoons riding around our neighbourhood in Port Elizabeth. I knew every street, every house, every garden and every open space. As soon as I got on my bike I entered into the world of my imagination. As I rode I got lost in the stories I made up in which I was the main actor and Mill Park was the stage on which I played. One day I left my bike in the driveway and it was stolen. I was bereft; it was my golden chariot, my trusty steed, an extension of me. My parents replaced the stolen bike but it was never quite the same after that.

When Peter and I lived in the Zululand bush in the early 80’s, I used to ride my red Western Flyer about 3 kms to the local school where I volunteered as an English teacher. I enjoyed the solitude of those rides and of course the track through the bush was beautifully wild. Once, on my way to school, I came across a goat giving birth. I stopped to watch for as long as I could before racing off to tell the children my news. They stared, amused and bemused, as I excitedly explained what I had just witnessed. What was this crazy white woman jabbering on about, had she never seen an animal give birth before?! Of course, it was a common sight for rural children.

my western flyer, now a garden feature

my western flyer, now a garden feature

The last time I rode a bike was 10 years ago in Italy and I loved every minute of it, until I got off the bike and fell over because my legs had turned to jelly. Be that as it may, determined to do something about my expanding waistline and wheezy chest, I decided it was time to air Alex’s mountain bike, which had been gathering dust in the garden shed ever since he left home. I must admit that at first I was a bit apprehensive getting on the bike – I wobbled a bit and then I was back in the saddle – like they say, it’s just like riding a bike!

taken on my cycle trip around the outskirts of Lucca

taken on my cycle trip around the outskirts of Lucca

Like Lucy Jordan I’ve long since realised that I’ll never ride through Paris in a sports car, but how lucky am I to be able to ride along country roads with the warm wind in my hair and not feel a care in the world? Sometimes, on my return home from morning rides, I stop at the orchard, pick a handful of berries and stuff them straight in my gob – it can’t get any better than that. Cycling has definitely brought my inner child back.

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3 Responses to Simple Life 3

  1. Adam Rice says:

    We went on a cycling holiday to Cuba and practiced for it for months along the canal towpaths before we went (the roads around here are either traffic choked or tiny lanes with no escape route). There is something especially pleasurable pedaling through lovely countryside, here or anywhere else. Since then I am afraid our bikes have sat in the garage gathering dust. My 1st new year’s resolution is to get out again and use the wonderful dedicated cycle paths near here. The Tarka trail along the N Devon coast and the path along the Exe estuary from Exmouth to Exeter to name but two.

  2. Cathy says:

    You are so lucky to live in an area that has dedicated cycle paths. Here, if you venture on to a main road you really take your life in your hands – there is no respect for cyclists. I may get bored eventually of going up and down our little district road but I’m not yet brave enough to do the trails. Kiera has a dedicated cycle path near their house that takes one all the way from Rockville where they live into DC, some 30 kms away – I’m looking forward to trying out a section of it on my next visit. I’m sure you get as much pleasure from riding your horse – it just gives one a different perspective, doesn’t it?

  3. Adam Rice says:

    Max is a great delight and has found his way into a special part of my heart. I will ride him later today, just being with an animal is absolutely the best therapy for getting one’s mind into a good place. I might blame him for not cycling enough but he only came to us in August and it is at least a year and a half since we cycled so I won’t!

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