Cycles past the gasworks

As most of you will know, I'm getting married in April this year. After having 8 months to get used to the idea I no longer cringe and/or vomit at the idea and I have almost made my peace with suddenly losing my identity  in place of being "a bride" to every woman I know.

Seriously, I am secure in my anti-bride status but you try 8 months of "how are the wedding plans coming?" and "not long now!" being the first thing that EVERYONE says to you EVERY SINGLE DAY and you try shrugging in response and saying "nothing to organise really" every time they ask and not feel the pressure to summon a screed of enthusiasm from within you and give them what they really want. My theory is that they keep asking because they want and expect you to scream "THE FLOWERS ARE A NIGHTMARE!" because either that's what they were like and they want to bond with you, or they want to roll their eyes and tell their friends that you're a total bridezilla and pretend that they never want to get married.

You see once upon a time that was me, except I wasn't pretending that I wanted to get married. I really didn't. I expected my friends to be excited about their weddings and a bit obsessed or stressed about the planning aspect so I politely asked how the plans were coming when I saw them. But I did talk to them about other things too, and if they were quite obviously not interested in talking about it I didn't keep on at it like a broken record.

Wow... that turned into a bit of a rant... ahem. I actually came here to write about my new bike.
As part of the whole marriage and babies thing, I want to get fit for future pregnancy and I want to have more toned arms, so that I don't look like I have hocks of ham sticking out of my sleeveless dress.

So I joined Virgin Gym at The Light in Leeds, just round the corner from my office and have been trecking there at 6:00 every morning and 5:30 every evening for the last month to swim for 30 minutes each time. Aside from the fact that swimming twice a day is causing me to prematurely age, my hair to suffer from being washed every day (there was a choice between friction burns from a rubber swimming cap which then made my head sweaty and my hair smelly and squashed or my hair splashed by chlorine whilst piled up on my head. I opted for the latter) I've absolutely loved it. It gives me time to think, invigorates me in preparation for a day at work, and then relaxes me after a day at work.

Despite having been a big naked person for most of my life, I still scuttle into a changing cubicle though - I cannot stand next to a skinny naked person and rub moisturiser in to my curves without wondering if they're judging me for not being as skinny as they are. it doesn't matter that I love my body and don't want to be skinny, you can't tell that about a person on sight.

In addition to the swimming, I joined my cycle scheme at work and yesterday picked up my Red or Dead designed pink and black Raleigh bike, matching helmet, a state of the art Kryptonite lock (which took me 30 minutes to fit to the bike and figure out how to secure to the bike stand at the gym... shameful) and 2 bike panniers which I can assure you hold an ENORMOUS amount of groceries as well as my handbag, library books, gym kit... I could pop out twins and put one in each pannier without it being considered child cruelty I bet!

Cycling around Leeds was something I was worried about, I must admit. I don't think we have a great cycle system and my journey across the dual carriageway from Cross Green, along the river, from Calls Landing to The Corn Exchange and then up to The Light this morning was a struggle in the high winds.

I used the pedestrian crossings to get across roads, navigated the cobbles between The Calls and The Corn Exchange quite well and as it was quite early in the morning I didn't encounter much traffic. Coming home at rush hour may be a different story...

Leeds City Council does provide cycle maps for getting to the city, but I couldn't find any guidance for inner-city cycling such as which are not cycle friendly roads, where the cycle paths actually are etc. I took it to Twitter and got some excellent advice so watch this space for my cycling adventures!

I'm looking forward to plotting out somewhere nice to take off with a picnic in my pannier. I haven't had a bike since I was a child and the joy of gliding along hasn't passed along with the natural exuberance of youth.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from my fellow cyclists in Leeds. What are the pros and cons for you (and I don't mean helmet hair. My bike may be pink but I'm not THAT girly!)

I also can't recommend the people of Evans enough. It's a great cycle shop with extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff and an amazing range of products.

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.

Title: Uncle Arthur by David Bowie


gareth53 said...

ooh, nice bike. I hope you enjoy riding it. Once you start riding regularly you'll find safer roads and routes that you never knew existed. Good luck!

lyndeloo said...

Get in touch with your local authority. They may be able to offer free cycle training to include basic maintenance, road positioning and route planning - or there may be a small charge. Happy pedalling!