Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cry Freedom!

I have been trying to analyse this new addiction of mine. To be honest if you would have asked me a year ago I would have stated that the majority of cyclists were tree hugging hippies. This  view was often driven by the fact that the majority of the cyclist I interacted with were basically tree hugging hippies – or more precisely the middle class, pretentious environmentalists  who viewed the world in a diametrical opposed way to me and often with little desire or mental capability to take a balanced view. To be honest I had zero desire to be associated with such a group of people or to be considered in any way similar to them.

The reasons for me taking up cycling I have already gone into in depth and there is little point in revisiting them, but there is a new element I have never taken the time to write about – this is my near addiction to needing to cycle as often as possible. Sometimes when I am too unwell to work I still go in just to use the bike.

Now I do know that I have always had a high propensity to become addicted to exercise -  hence all my shoulder injuries etc. But that I don’t believe is the whole story. Elements in this new addiction include

I care not a jot for the saving the planet – me riding a bike is not going to save the world from global warning – let’s not have the argument about whether global warming exists here. I don’t like hugging trees but I do respect that there needs to be a balance in nature.

Just feeling alive each day – to do a little exercise really sharpens the mind and make the body respond, when I say to my body “run up those steps” it actually does it.

Getting away from the bugs – I seem to be very attractive to any cold / Flu virus doing the rounds at any given. Now if someone wants to be a hero and come into work with a cold and then make the rest of the office unwell then there is very little you can do about it (other than given the nickname of lurgy machine and blame them in no uncertain terms when you catch the cold off them, and hope they get the hint). But I think the majority of cold and flu I got was from being stuck cheek to cheek with thousands of other people on a hot and humid train. Nowadays the amount of colds etc. that I get has more than halved.

Get away from the train – I can tell you how much I hated travelling on the train – late trains / cancelled trains – trains running a few minutes late and therefore connections being missed and many long, cold and boring hours waiting on platforms.

FREEDOM – this I believe is the main cause of my addiction – this goes beyond the ability to leave the office at a time of my choosing and not when I need to leave to get a train. It is all about; I choose my route into work, I choose the speed I want to travel at, I choose how many risks I want to take. No longer do I have to obey pointless red lights, I don’t take silly risks, I have been driving for 25 years (without any road crashes in the last 15 years – and that wasn’t my fault) and I am able to evaluate risks – I don’t need some highway engineer to tell me how to ride. Mostly (despite my best efforts) I am not able to get a speeding ticket on my bike. If there is a red light and I am turning left I will go through it normally, if there is a pedestrian crossing with no-one on it (turned on by some passing idiot) I don’t have to wait there like a car with my all incriminating number plate, I just go. Yes I know there is a slight increase in my chances of an accident with the way I ride, but it is minimal and it is a lot less than your average courier or less experienced drivers who are now cycling into work.

The point is – its my choice – I don’t have to follow the rules of the nanny state. This is the freedom I love – I am tired of countless rules affecting every element of life. I have no issues with those that are in place to make us act in a civilised way and to make life generally more acceptable to society – but I have a major problem with all those rules that assume I am an idiot and cannot look after myself and I need a handbook written by some dull witted civil servant with less life experience than a May Fly.

You know I hear continually about people not taking up cycling because of the danger on the roads blah blah blah – if I have learnt anything in my many years of life, it is this. Life is full of risks, don’t run away from them, embrace the risk, control it and most of all enjoy them – if you have not taken up cycling into work or for fun because you are afraid, then just do it (I have heard that somewhere before). Believe in yourself – you don’t need the Government to make things safe for you – use your wits and ability to manage risk. If a route has a dangerous roundabout or too much traffic – then use an alternative, if you don’t know or are unsure at a junction or lights , then take your time. You are a fool to miss out on all the freedom the cycling can give you – if you are afraid of that risk, then go to another blog because really you won’t learn anything here.  

Only downside to this new freedom? Well I have to remember there are rules when I get in my car.

Oh and whilst I am at it - here is a link to something more sensible "top ten reasons to commute by bike"

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