GOM 1 claims that, to lever himself out of his armchair and get out on his bike, he “Has to overcome innate idleness”. He is not alone, except that for idleness I would substitute inertia.
I am not good at idleness. That takes patience and a well-developed resistance to boredom, or the ability to be distracted thanks to a high tolerance of the sort of trash that almost fills our TV schedules – I have none of these things. I have to be doing something, even if nothing of any great consequence. There are plenty of things that I want to do – but not necessarily today.
Isn’t it strange? I have a nice bike with which I am well pleased. It is adequately equipped to tackle anything from a local errand to a day trip and I know how much better I feel after a ride of just 8-10 miles. Admittedly I am probably around ten years older than GOM 1 (judging solely by what I have read on his blog) and my neighbourhood is too hilly to be truly cycling-friendly. But get beyond the hills, which are getting easier anyway (and ignore the fact that they will be there still on the return journey) and there is ample scope for plenty of enjoyable cycling. Frequently, and despite all of this, it requires a real effort just to get out there.
Once out there with the wheels rolling it is a different matter. Being perched on the bike with everything in balance imparts a tremendous sense of being in control of the situation. of excitement and anticipation. I think it is true that one is rewarded in proportion to the effort put in and very few rides fail to meet expectations. Nostalgia is an important ingredient too for me as I did most of my cycling between the ages of eight and eighteen. The bike still gives me the sense of wonder and pleasure associated with playing with a new toy – actually to a greater extent even than the almost new laptop computer and digital camera. What is it about a bicycle? Perhaps it is the way that it fulfils the role of personal transport mode as only a bike can.
It is hard to imagine that any book would encourage me to start cycling from scratch now. However, I might be encouraged by an opportunity to try it, in the form of a short practical course using a borrowed bike, before committing serious funds to a bike of my own and to the essential accessories. It is a pretty big expense for something that might or might not last. It would be interesting to see statistics but I doubt that many people would abandon cycling having tried it. It might not meet one’s needs at all times and in all locations but it has to be experienced to be believed. It is simply enormous fun.