How I fell in love with my bicycle!

I’m truly, madly, deeply in love with my bicycle and I’m pretty certain most other cyclists will completely understand my feelings.

A dictionary definition of love is; an intense feeling of deep affection or a great interest and pleasure in something……

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Once upon a time, my opinion of people out cycle touring was, I’m sorry to say not great. Passing them in the car, often struggling painfully up steep hills on their bicycles, usually loaded up to the hilt…looked like unenviable torture. ‘Why on earth would anyone want to do that?’ I would often say, whilst shaking my head in complete disbelief. At that point in life, serious rock climbing and long distance running were my pursuits, cycling was certainly not for me. Although I imagined in return, that some cyclists would look at rock climbers and echo my sentiments in reverse! In the end, I suppose the old clichĂ© is true…. ‘It’s each to their own’.

So, I carried on being slightly obsessed with climbing and running. Then along came a baby and outdoor life experiences became rather diminished. Luckily baby backpacks were just emerging, very basic at that time but a useful tool for hiking with and doing the housework….unimpeded by a crawling child!

Then I had the idea of buying a bicycle and installing a child seat on the back! So the first cycle purchase since childhood, was a Dawes Ladies Galaxy. If only I could say, that this was the point I become hooked on cycling.

Sadly it was not.

The original intention was to combine childcare and exercising with shopping etc. However in North Wales it rains almost continuously, there are lots of enormous hills ( we lived up one of them! ) and in those days we also lived a 14 mile round trip, from the nearest decent sized shop! The faint hearted cycle-shop-cycle forays became minimal, and soon along came the second child….. meaning all cycling trips ground to a permanent halt.

I took up running again!

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Around fifteen years later during an extended break, an opportunity for a teenage-free three weeks suddenly arose. I mused, what could be done alone, with a very tiny budget, for that length of time, and also include many sights of the New Zealand South Island?

Of course….I could try a cycling and wild camping tour….the seemingly perfect solution that would encompass all my holiday needs!

I borrowed my sons bike, kitted it out with two old Karrimor panniers, bought a bar bag, fastened a rather flimsy tent to the rear rack and caught the ferry to Picton from Wellington. Very soon, on the road….to exhaustion! The distance from Picton to the Lake Rotoiti campsite, in the Nelson Lakes National Park, was 130 km or 80 miles….the cycling soon went from enjoyable bliss to total torture. It was a very tough start, but I quickly became used to the ups and downs of cycle touring life. During those three weeks I made two fantastic new friends, conquered two high passes, cycled down the bewitching west coast and fell passionately in love with the South Island.

The moment of reaching the summit of Arthurs Pass (3000 feet ), was an epiphany of realisation… cycling was changing my life for the better.

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After that initial South Isle solo cycling journey, I was well and truly hooked. The amazing feelings of exhilaration and total freedom, the opportunity to feel carefree and escape from the routines of day-to-day life, along with being able to commune so very deeply with nature and not another soul in sight…..suited me perfectly.

Eventually the money came together and I bought my one, and still only, touring bike. A lovely handmade Orbit, this time with a perfect petite-size frame fit! Adding four shiny blue Ortlieb waterproof panniers, a bar bag, a Hilleberg Acto lightweight tent and all was complete! Our first journey tackled together, was a solo wild camping adventure around the Hebridean Island of Mull…. you can read more about that and other escapades on two wheels, in the archives of this blog!

My Orbit and I have developed a special partnership of trust, steadiness and security. It has never let me down and is always there, waiting to be my sturdy, strong and reliable companion, on any journey at any moment. We make plans together, about the next tour or the next ride out.

Where will it be? ”Can you my Orbit, cope with extra rugged terrain and the pannier weight? Will you be happy to take me along those unknown tracks, in that strange foreign country? Will you be safe on the aeroplane”

When we roll forward in complete unison, I’m in ecstasy, my smile breaks out, as a feeling of peace with the world becomes all enveloping. Smiling and greeting passers-by comes naturally….whether they answer or not doesn’t matter, the world is a happier more beautiful one.

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Perhaps the most personal enlightening discovery about cycling has been, that from the seat of a push-bike, so much can be seen, smelt, felt and heard. Cycling on or off-road puts one in a unique relationship with the natural world. I like the feeling of moving faster than walking/running. Covering lots of distance, seeing many new sights, while at the same time being able to stop, take a photograph, pick up a special stone, race the cantering cows, sing with the birds or have lunch with friendly trees. It’s magical.

My Orbit and I make a great pair and it has become an integral part of me, in a way that nothing or no-one else can be.

So there you have it….the many reasons why I’ve fallen in love with my bicycle!

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