I love my bike. A whole lot. His name is Walter and he’s worth absolutely nothing, but I think I would need therapy if something happening to him.
I was given Walter (he’s a Raleigh, get it?) by a friend last year, and he has completely changed my life. I have gone from being not particularly fussed by our two-wheeled friends to a convert. Cycling is just so unbelievably fast, cheap, healthy and convenient. I now go pretty much everywhere on Walter, despite his constant ailments.
5 reasons why you should love bikes
1. Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, biking is a proper part of the culture – bikes are lovely old upright models draped in flowers. Like cows in India, they are respected by cars and loved by locals. When I visited a friend there this summer we explored lots of the city in a few days, zipping up and down little alleyways and along the canals (something you should not attempt when intoxicated, you have been warned).
2. Boris’s bikes (and other variations on the theme). In pretty much every city you visit, shiny machines are lined up all over the city for you to use for a pittance. I’ve cycled citybikes in Paris, Amsterdam, London, Seville… It’s by far the best way to explore a new place.
3. Towpaths. They are flat and they take you on fantastic tours of the English countryside. My personal favourite is the one that goes from Bath to Bradford-upon-Avon, passing lovely pubs, canal-boat cafes, wild swimming spots and, um, more pubs. I’ve got my priorities right.
4. Fashion. I’m not joking. Style guru The Sartorialist has a page dedicated to fashionable bicyclists for you to be inspired by. Americans love that “European girl on a bicycle” look (side note: no-one, except possibly Natalie Portman in Garden State, can make a helmet look cool, so just accept that you put safety over chic).
5. Pretending you know what is happening on the Tour De France.. Everyone will think you are mega cool. Just say “Oooh, looks like Schleck is breathing down Contador’s neck. But the King of the Mountain could be a wild card, you never know, the Pyrénées are looking brutal”.