“Ooh you’re brave”. That’s usually the first thing many people say to me when they find out I ride a bike.
Now anyone who knows me well will know that one thing I am definitely not, is brave.
As a kid, I was the one who’d be too terrified to climb the wall bars in PE lessons, refused to climb a tree or go on a swing that was more than a foot off the ground. I was cripplingly shy for years, scared of talking to anyone. I didn’t even learn to ride a bike until I was 14, mainly because I was terrified of falling off the thing.
It’s true I’m over the shyness these days but I still don’t like fairgrounds, rollercoasters fill me with terror and horror movies leave me gibbering. A little yappy dog barked at me the other day and I squealed like I was being pursued by a pack of wolves. Nah, I’m definitely still a wuss.
‘Brave’ is any number of things; defusing a violent situation, facing a serious illness with cheerfulness, taking a stand against oppression. Riding a bike is not brave, riding a bike is simply a way of getting from A-B.
Let’s stop being scared everyone. Yes it can be dangerous, but so can chopping vegetables for your dinner. Start like I did, with a little pedal around your local park. Then a little pedal down some quiet back roads. Then the fun stuff – finding bike routes that keep you away from the heavy traffic and let you discover amazing little secret corners of your city – believe me, they are there. Go out with friends, cycle groups, clubs. Confidence grows in groups; for example I love to sing, being in a choir makes me feel brave enough to perform.
Before you know it you’ll be merrily riding a bike around all over the place. Even if you’re a complete scaredy cat like me.