For the last year of living in Edinburgh I cycled everywhere, to the point of obsession. Mornings and evenings were the commute to work, weekends would take me along the coast towards North Berwick or for a quick fun run down the Water Of Leith. Even lunch breaks meant a quick half-hour circuit of the city, planned out beforehand via the wonder of Google Maps to ensure I got maximum mileage with minimal traffic light stoppage. Cue a move to Thailand and everything changed.
Thailand wasn’t just hot, it was HOT. Thankfully I acclimatised far quicker than I’d anticipated and now even miss those balmy 40-degree days accompanied by several hundred percent humidity but it did prevent cycling. Well I know some people still cycled around the city but when I’m on my bike I feel the need for speed and to indulge such desires in those climes would have meant instant death from water loss, the police mopping up a kilometre-long puddle of sweat culminating in a twisted cycle and empty pile of clothes.
But now? Now I’m in Taiwan, land of seasons which don’t all have ‘hot’ in their name! Ten weeks in and I still haven’t bought a scooter, relying instead on my own two legs and a £60 piece-of-crap mountain bike to get me to and from my 7km-distant work and around the city on my photography/exploration jaunts. The feeling of lightness at recapturing the sense of freedom which comes with cycling is difficult to describe, suffice it to say that every time I mount up and roll out there’s a weight taken from my shoulders, a new emotion which can only be described as freedom coursing through the taxed veins and burning muscles.
I derive obscene amounts of pleasure from dodging and weaving through the lanes of motorised transport brought to a standstill by their bulk and lack of maneuverability. I rejoice at every last-second route change I deign to make, every few seconds I manage to shave off my travel time. Every wrong turn which thrusts me into an entirely new enclave of my urban jungle is welcomed with open arms and often encouraged. Man, I really missed this.
Can I also get on my high horse for a second and say this. There aren’t all that many people who need to use motorised transport for every journey they make. Some do due to overly long distances to cover, especially in the country, or those whose occupations involve extended journeys with piles of cargo or equipment (yeah Hamish and Jon, that’s you!) Others though, are often just lazy. And immoral. Cycling is not only manifestly better for your wallet and body but the more cycles we have on the roads, the safer they become for others and the better chance our planet has of surviving. Conversely, every time you take the car for an unnecessary journey you’re jeopardising the lives of others and the future of your children. Please think about that.
I’ll leave you with this post from another site which says it far better than I could ever hope to. Go on now, on yer bike…