I decided to offer people on the Manchester Cycling Facebook group the chance to write a guest post about their particular experience of cycling. Today’s guest post is from Mike Calverley, whose blog can be found here.
Calvers looking slightly scary with his current bike.
Cycling with one leg
I used to cycle with two legs, but thanks to a “Sorry mate, I didn’t see ya,” incident, I now cycle with one. No choice, I only have one left.
Took me about ten years following the accident before I set off on a push bike. Now I can tell you, it wasn’t so easy. I didn’t actually “set off” anywhere at first. I just got on the bike, difficult enough in it’s self for me, anyway, I just hugged a lamppost rocking back and forwards. And that was my first outing over. Plenty for day one.
Next time, after doing my pole dance, I got just enough confidence to let go of my lamppost and wobble off to the next one and grab it. To my great surprise, I didn’t fall off. Believe me, I was expecting to.
So lamppost by lamppost I explored my locality.
Now I’d done no exercise for ten years, so soon tired. But on each outing, I went one lamppost further. Determined to go one more than last time. After a couple of weeks, I got to the edge of the estate. Beyond that, was a big scary main road. So for a while the suburban estate was my world.
One quite Sunday morning I took a leap of faith. I ventured out onto the main road to do battle with the cars that had almost killed me a decade ago.
Well I also had to make a choice. Up hill or down hill. On the basis that I could have got myself stranded if I went down hill, I chose up. I made about five lampposts, then tired, so had to turn back. I repeated this every day, increasing my distance by one lamppost at a time. Eventually, I pushed myself to the limit and made the top of the hill. Probably a mile and a half from home by now. The only way from the hill top was of course down. I had a choice of four directions as the top was also the crossroads. I chose to head off in the direction of where I was working. Of course cruising down hill was just fine, but mindful that I had to get back, I didn’t go too far.
The next weekend, I decided to go as far as I could in the direction of work. Six miles later, and to my great surprise, I actually reached work. But could I get back. Well no choice now, I had to. Well I did get back. I was tired and exhilarated, but I now knew that any day I wanted I could cycle to work and get back home. And that’s what I did. Every non-raining day I cycled the six miles there and back. The office moved after a few months which forced me to increase my cycle distance to eight miles. Still not a great problem.
As the months passed, I gained enough confidence and fitness to cycle where ever I wanted, within reason. Eventually I made the next leap. I knew I could manage without it, so I sold the car.
Now I’m no martyr. When required, I use a taxi or train, not too keen on buses. I get travel sick.
Over the years, due to my job as a computer contractor, I’ve moved about and lived in many places. Germany, Ireland, Denmark and of course England. But every time I move somewhere new, I just take a bike, well actually I buy one when I get there. It’s too much hassle attempting to take a bike with me.
At the end of the contract, typically after a year or two, the bike gets abandoned to it’s fate. It’s usually on its last legs by then anyway, so to speak.
That first lamppost hugging was now about twenty years ago. Today, I still have no car.
So for those thinking that they cannot possibly cycle to work and must have a car, well if I can go by bike, so can you.
I’ll guarantee you two things. You’ll be wealthier and healthier!
Ditch the car, go by bike.
Mike Calverley. (a.k.a. Calvers)