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Stop Press! Round the world cyclist enjoys cycling!

I spent 4 years cycling round the world.
I am not a cyclist.
I don’t shave my legs. I don’t have one of those trendy fixed-wheel bikes with narrow handlebars and a wispy goatee beard. I’m not one of the people that I enjoy overtaking in London who feel that it is easier to buy a ridiculously expensive road bike and a replica Lance Armstrong kit to ride to work on than to lose weight and gain speed by riding far and fast.
No, I cycled round the world because the bike gave me freedom, because it was cheap and because it was challenging.
So I am not “a cyclist”.

But last weekend I went mountain biking in the Surrey Hills. And I LOVED it! I think it is the most fun I have had (with or without clothes) in years. I did not stop grinning all day and I believe I might be heading towards calling myself “a cyclist” after all.

Mountain biking is great exercise, but without the boring-ness of “proper” training. The beautiful scenery of Surrey’s hill tops and bright green woodlands certainly beat my usual late night pounding of the streets of Brixton, the pavements glowing orange from streetlamps and the sound of police sirens mingling with my iPod in my ears.
The adrenaline rush of testing your nerve as you push your own personal limits on the descents helps cleanse the soul and blow away the week’s cobwebs.
I definitely hope that I will be going mountain biking again soon.

As well as re-discovering mountain biking I have also been surprised to feel a renewal of the urge to get on a bike and ride long, lonely miles once again. (I’ve even had a preliminary chat with Rob and Mark about a couple of exciting possibilities). I’m back in training now for a couple of big expeds next year and I’ve just entered the notorious ‘BallBuster Duathlon’ to sharpen me up in November while Ben heads to Antarctica solo. So there will be plenty of hours out on the road in the next few months.

All I need now is a bike company that might fancy giving (or lending) me a road bike and a mountain bike..! Any offers??!! Haha!

Seriously though, it feels good to be back in the mood for cycling once again, to be a round the world cyclist who might actually start to like cycling.

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  1. Al, you ride around Brixton wearing an iPod? That’s very, very silly!

    But yeah, I know the feeling you’re describing. And it is massively fun to overtake people, in lycra, on carbon bikes, whilst wearing a dress, cycling on a bike I made myself from unwanted parts 🙂 I seriously think I’d go mad without cycling, and taking my road bike through the South Downs on the weekend is always exhilarating. I’d really like a mountain bike to play with as well, but would need a pay rise first 😉

  2. Helen,
    I think you definitely need to ask your boss for a payrise! It is outrageous that you are not paid enough to own a mountain bike….

  3. Fergie Meek Posted

    A while back I was so poor I couldn’t afford a mountain bike either but I discovered that bike rental companies sell their stock off at the end of the season and it is possible to pick up a decent bike very reasonably. Helen could try looking into this way of buying a bike.

  4. Thanks Fergie – that’s a good suggestion. It is actually what I am looking to do as I can’t afford one either!
    Helen – email these guys, tell them I told you to do so, and ask to be put on their list for end of season sell-offs:

  5. Haha I will. I’m frankly astounded that you can’t afford a mountain bike, what are those lazy people at your publishers doing all day? I think you should slash their tires or something.


    PS If you actually slash my tires I will hunt you down and… er… speak to you sternly.

  6. I love that video, “performance that’s the name of the game”… brilliant

  7. Christopher Posted

    What do you mean, you’re not a cyclist, Alastair?

    You don’t need to be one of those hipster urban “fixies” or a sponsor-covered-kit-wearing and carbon-riding race snob to be a biker. Just braving the traffic in the morning on a bike, any bike, to get to work makes you a cyclist. Getting a little muddy in the woods on weekends makes you a cyclist. Seeing the world from a saddle at 12 mph instead of 60 mph makes you a cyclist. And if your thing is jumping off crazy high places on little trick bikes, then you’re a cyclist. My three-year old daughter raced her first “kiddie kilo” this summer – with training wheels. She’s got the fever, so she’s a cyclist. Even the fat guy in the lycra and on the $4,000 bike who leaves his SUV in his suburban driveway just once a month is a cyclist, well, at least once in a while.

  8. Tom Whewell Posted

    I have just finnished Moods of Future Joys so a bit amazed that you don’t consider yourself a cyclist but I think I understand. The more you cycle and the more you get a way from the hype of cycling the less you beome one. It becomes part of you and a means to an end. There is no better feeling than cruising along for day after day making progress effortlessly.



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