Wheels

Living on The Island, where a pizza isn’t a phone call away simply because it’s too far and too inconveniently distant for the pizza guy to get to, one has to develop levels of organisational skill which one might not necessarily need to acquire in the sun-baked deserts. Food has to be hauled, pushed in a cart or balanced on handlebars. Over the bridge then five hundred metres beyond. Which isn’t a lot, as it happens, unless it’s pouring with rain or covered in sheet ice, in which case, it can become something of an ordeal. A bicycle or scooter is the best idea, some have one or the other, many have both. Since my means are modest, self-propulsion is a healthful and practical means of locomotion. 

I hadn’t ridden a bike seriously since I was sixteen. It does happen to be true, however – ‘it’s like riding a bike’ means the old skills just come flooding back after a few hair-raising moments of unstable equilibrium when the ground , grey and unsympathetic, sometimes rushes up to meet you. Twenty-one gears – however did one manage with three – I think I managed to change up and down across about four of them, with a little squeezy thingy close to my hands. All massively high-tech. It’s only a couple of kilometres into town so a ride into civilisation didn’t seem like a bad idea. Except for the roads. The French are fortunately quite obsessional about le vélo and generally skirt a cyclist with  gentlemanly discretion – just as well, really since I tended to grimly occupy the crown of the road and to hell with the klaxons of disapproval. Being a motorist, I followed the rules of the road, obediently pausing for red traffic lights and following the one way systems, until it occurred to me that I was the only cyclist so doing. Everybody else rode where they chose, over pavements, dodging perambulators and old ladies with walking frames, and parking up against trees. It’s surprisingly liberating once you figure it out. The one thing which I hadn’t remembered was the – let’s say – ‘discomfort’ of a hard saddle giving what the French delicately call ‘les parties nobles’ something of a bumpy ride. I think a saddle with proper suspension might be the answer…









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