Take the hire road

To my utter shame and failing, my cycling still isn’t up to scratch. In fact, it’s not even up to a slight rub with a blunt knife. I’m out with my bike quite a bit now – sometimes I even go on it – and when asked, cycling is always my answer to the question of which sport I’ll keep up after my Glasgow 2014 challenge is complete. But I’m still not roadworthy.

Sure, I finished last year’s Pedal for Scotland without injuring anyone or bringing shame to the family name, but, for the most part, that was just facing the right direction and trundling on. It’s the bits at either end of the cycling that really test my bike-love. Starting off, I either topple to one side or somehow fall backwards; stopping, whether planned or impromptu, really depends on what’s nearby for me to rattle unceremoniously into. If I have to perform either of these delicate manoeuvres under pressure or on even the gentlest of slopes, it’s carnage.

I’m not Chris Hoy on a bike, hell, I’m not even Chris Hay* on a bike, but I was still happy to witness the launch of Glasgow’s shiny new cycle hire scheme in the city centre. Fundamentally, the scheme operates by the same model as London’s Boris Bikes, only with a little less Bullingdon and bluster. Annual memberships are available for frequent users or it’s a £1 per half-hour fee, perfect for on the hoof cyclists – although I think the manufacturer insists on shoes. Pedants.

So, will you be seeing me barrelling through town on a Pound Farthing anytime soon then? Only in your nightmares, I’m afraid. I just couldn’t put our fair city of steep hills, heaving traffic and passive-aggressive commuters in the path of my shortcomings at present.

For the moment, my steadfast steed, Nancy, and I will stick together – me through choice, her through lack thereof. We’ve been through a lot as a pair: scrapes, breaks and a poorly-trained-for triathlon, and while I hang on for the day when I can finally ride without incident, she hangs on for retirement, hoping her derailleurs still have a little life in them by then. It’s an arrangement we’re comfortable with, in spite of her razor sharp saddle.

But if you’re in the city with a spare quid and a skill-set that outweighs my own, give a bike a hire and help turn Glasgow into the two-wheeled town it so deserves to be. Let’s face it, anything that offers speedier transport through the city centre for cheaper than a parking charge is probably already on the right cycling track.


*Chris Hay: a guy I once knew who wasn’t Chris Hoy on a bike either.


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