Riding a bike is great. It saves temper, time and money. You glide past traffic queues, arrive early feeling fit, and get 300 miles per gallon of coffee. It puts you in direct control of your resources.
– page 6, The Bluffer’s Guide to Cycling
I can’t remember my precise motivation for taking up cycling 18 months ago after not cycling for over almost 30 years. My first memories of riding anything with wheels was cruising along the dirt road on a tricycle outside the family bungalow in Sarawak. Even at the tender age of 4, I’d mastered speeding and failed miserably at braking. Most of my kiddie rides ended up with the bike lying sideways in a bush and the skin of my knees peeling and bleeding profusely.
My second lot of cycling memories were in Singapore. I remember being 12 years of age and riding a rented bicycle in East Coast. I also remember emergency braking behind my brother’s bike when he suddenly stopped, losing my balance, falling and scraping my knees just as I did when I was 4. I felt extremely self-conscious walking home that evening while people stared in mild horror at my bloody kneecaps.
Considering my pathetic history with bikes, I was quite unprepared to fall hopelessly in love with cycling in, of all places, Beijing. When my friend left Beijing, she insisted I take her Giant bicycle which came with detachable front basket, 3 gears and a sturdy lock. When I told her I’d forgotten how to cycle, she insisted that I’d relearn it within minutes of climbing onto the bike.
I put off picking up the bike for as long as I could. In fact, I waited until Sottie’s absolute final day in Beijing. It was the coldest winter day in Beijing for decades. The temperature hovered between -10 and -15 degrees Celsius as the winds howled relentlessly.
My first bike ride in 30 years was around 10 km and took 3 hours. I stopped plenty of times at oncoming traffic and fell a couple of times. It was baptism by fire. After that first ride, nothing phases me anymore. Except cycling on slush, which I’ve done in my stupidity and regretted for a long time afterwards.
18 months on, I’ve lost my friend’s Giant bike to a thief, gotten myself a Merida Duke mountain bike and fallen hopelessly in love with cycling.