When I was living in La Rochelle two years ago, I discovered that one of the beauties of living in a busy, popular arty destination was the ability to wander around town (or rather cycle around it!) at the weekend and stumble across interesting events. I’m just starting to rediscover this old habit. Birmingham is a tad bigger than La Rochelle, but it still has a pretty arty vibe, and I saw some random stuff going on at the Four Squares festival a couple of weeks ago, including Soweto Kinch performing, some really great street dance performances and Gypsy music & circus activities!
As I perused twitter on Sunday lunchtime, slumped in my armchair with a cup of cold tea & a mind heavy from the busy week’s activities, I noticed that outside the library a cycling event was taking place. Without much hesitation I decided it was time to get out into the sunshine and see what was going on in Centenary Square, with my trusty old Royce Union Bermuda (well, I hesitated long enough to throw on my “J’aime ma bicyclette” t-shirt!).
Unsurprisingly there were some highly desirable bicycles around the place, such as this lovely Pashley. Inspiringly, a group of cyclists arrived who had cycled through 7 countries in 7 days to get to the finishing line there! And entertainingly, I was able to ‘cycle’ myself a smoothie on this bright green um… uni-smoothicle?
If you wanted coffee then it was, of course, delivered on wheels.
Fully equipped with a cute mournful looking dog.
… And there were inspiring slogans around the place, like this rather intimidating one which read ‘Ride your legs off’. I was totally into the whole thing! I’ve cycled all over Coventry, La Rochelle, and now Birmingham over the past 3 years, and I got excited at a woman telling me about coast to coast cycles, Castle-themed cycle maps, and a route which goes from Birmingham right to where my family live in the Cotswolds (this last one really has to be a personal goal…). Then I started cycling back home and, maybe it’s all hilly cycles to work & dancing this week, but my legs really did feel like they were going to fall off. So I figured maybe I’d put all that off for a while!
What I will say however is this – cycling has been so good for me over the past few years. I’ve cycled in sun & rain, summer & winter, in cities & by the sea, on good days & bad days. I’ve cycled in excited states of energetic creativity, and I’ve cycled when all I really wanted to do was curl up and hide away. I’ve cycled consistently despite being mildly phobic about sports and exercise throughout my life! And in return for my dogged determination to keep at it, cycling has given me a solitary and secure way to get fit without fear of comparison to others, it has given me time for myself every day & yet kept my mind occupied, and it has given me that buzz and life-force that only exercise can bring. It may not look much, but we’ve been through a lot, my Bermuda bicycle & me.