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I began 2012 with a list of things I wanted to do, or do more often, helpfully taped to the inside of my wardrobe door in the hope that I wouldn’t completely forget about them. They included ‘Cook a paella’ (not achieved yet, despite a lovely paella pan lurking unused on top of the fridge – but hey, it’s only September), ‘Take my lunch to work’ (yes!), ‘Meditate regularly’ (tick!), ‘Get a bench seat for that sunny spot by the shed’ (done!), ‘Drink delicious wine at weekends, and water the rest of the time’ (mixed results here), and ‘Ride my bike for everyday errands’.
Riding my bike for everyday errands was number two on this list of 30, so it’s fair to say that I was keen. It was also something that I had been trying – nagging, harassing – myself to do for a couple of years, with a marked lack of success. Yes, dear reader, I was a car driver. A driver who would hop in the car for a five-minute trip to the New World in Miramar; who would, more often than not, hop in the car for a two-minute trip down to the nearby Strathmore shops, because walking would take 10 minutes and it was such a hassle coming back up the hill. What a thing to admit on a cycling blog!
I had to make myself. It was just to the New World, for a bottle of wine for Friday night (note resolution four, above). It was quicker than I’d thought, and I put the bottle in my basket and pedalled home, and skited about it on Facebook, and felt pleased with myself.
That weekend, I made myself go to the library by bike.
And bit by bit, something strange started to happen. I found myself enjoying whizzing along the wide and pohutukawa-lined streets of Miramar. Enjoying the exercise and the air in my lungs and on my skin. A woman coming down the hill onto Stone Street on her bike shouted at me, ‘Nice bike!’, and I shouted, ‘Thanks!’
Bit by bit it started to seem not just a desirable thing to do, something I should do, but something I wanted to do. It started to seem normal, just how things were done – we need some apples and some milk? OK, I’ll cycle down. It was almost as fast as driving the car, and quicker to park – hop off, lock it, and off you go. It was definitely more fun, it cost nothing, and it gave me some exercise.
Plus – something I really liked – the bike was, more or less, me-sized. It was light, flexible, able to fit down narrow paths and alleys, easily parked. I had to take the car into town one day, and was dismayed at the size of the thing – all this metal, all this weight, to transport just one person. My little Corolla – cars in general – suddenly struck me as clumsy, impractical and inconvenient, and I realised that I – someone who had owned and driven cars for 30 years – was, perhaps, starting to turn into a cyclist.