I have just been out for a ride on my bicycle for the first time in a year. Whizzing through the piercing winds, my hands numb and red afterwards from the cold; it was amazing!
It’s quite frightening how strenuous I found it. I puffed and panted after mere minutes, my legs seizing up with pain. I’ll need to take this slow. My body appears to have rusted as much as my bike.
My eagerness to get back into cycling may stem from my reluctance to start driving. I have been 17 for four months now, which is the legal age for acquiring a driving license in the UK, yet have felt no desire to begin getting lessons. My peers have been excitedly talking about beginning lessons, theory tests, practical tests, and for the luckier ones, being gifted actual cars! I tend to react to these conversations with subdued boredom.
I’m not sure why I have an aversion to cars. Part of it is certainly due to a rejection of society’s expectations; for ages I would have people asking me: “Oh, you’re 17, have you applied for a provisional licence yet?” “Ah, you’ll be driving soon, then!” “How are the lessons going?” Eventually most people realised I’m not interested and have given up. It’s senseless, but the assumption that every 17 year old drives bugs me.
Then there’s the wishy-washy reason: I’ll feel much more ethically sound if I can cycle to places, or use public transport, rather than further polluting the atmosphere by using a car. I know that my use of one would have a minute, negligible effect on carbon levels, but it would help me, personally, to know that I am continuing to lead an environmentally-balanced lifestyle.
Then there’s the health benefits. Once I’m passed the pain and wheezing (my asthma has not reacted well) I imagine regular cycling would do my body a lot of good. The excercise must also have benefits towards my mental health – I feel quite content just now, despite the suffering, and furthermore I feel that this particular blog post is one of the more focused I’ve written for some time.
Riding a bike may not be practical at present, considering I have to travel 20 miles every day just to get to school here in Shetland. But it will be a different story when I’m at university – whether it be in Edinburgh, Glasgow or St. Andrews. St. Andrews I know to be particularly encouraging of bike use, and the thought of cycling up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh (if it’s allowed) fills me with great pleasure.
A bright yellow/turquoise striped bike cycling through Edinburgh is the stuff of dreams.