By Duchess of Hackney

Hackney livin' n lovin'. Sarky frosty knickers always gobby, and perpetually pissed off for good reasons. Wind up merchant extraordinaire, but a nice old fashioned unusually unusual gal... Writing lots of wrongs.

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Hell just froze over and I’m back in the saddle again…well almost

Hell just froze over and I’m back in the saddle again…well almost

Anyone who knows me or has followed my blog or my twitter account for long enough will know I haven’t always been too kind to city cyclist and by that I mean people who cycle on London streets. It’s not that I’ve been unkind to cyclists, it just that I have for a long time, labeled anyone who commutes by push bike in the big smoke, a total nut. I was even thrown off a popular cycling internet forum over a year ago, although I don’t believe it was my attitude, but more theirs. Really.

To be honest I still believe cycling on London’s streets is taking your life in your hands and despite cycling campaigns and Boris. Motor vehicles and especially lorries on London’s narrow roads is like oil and water…. they just don’t go together.  Time will tell if my views change.

My idea of cycling bliss, is riding traffic free off road, maybe the quiet tree lined streets, back roads and parks of London. It’s the busy streets that scare the crap out of me and I plan to stay far away from them. Most of my work is around the tri-boroughs – Hackney, Islington and Haringey and a good bit in Tower Hamlets, but there are days I have to be in Central London, West London.   Lucky for me my destinations are residential roads.

So why the change of heart? Health, pleasure, practicality and true freedom of the road  (or parks and quite streets). Until I moved back to London, I loved driving now it’s a chore I loathe, but for me a necessity.  Yup, you can also describe me as a walking, talking, breathing contradiction.

My first love

The Pinnacle Californium wooed me for a while.

I last rode decades ago as a teen and have surprised myself at the gusto and excitement I have developed over the past two months, that it is now a certainty I WILL ride again :). You should see me devour bicycle sites and reviews.  Originally I had my heart set on the Pinnacle Californium Two 2013 (pictured ). It’s a range marketed and sold exclusively by Evans Cycles. I got even more excited after reading this gals cycling blog but have since changed my mind.

Who knew picking a bike would be so difficult and as someone who can be quite impulsive, I’ve surprised myself how much restrain I have demonstrated so far.

I’m after a classic looking bike and yes a Pashley would be lovely, but there are two things that put me off at the moment – the price and the weight. Maybe something I can graduate too once I’m more confident? As a kid I had Raleigh’s which included a chopper and I have looked at some of theirs, but I think I have my heart set on the Duchess, which is purely coincidentally.  Some people are put off by the plastic imitation wicker basket, but that’s fine by me…it’s more practical.

This just might be the one.

This just might be the one.

I didn’t quite ride it, but I sat on a Dawes  Duchess (of course) at a local bike shop and was very happy with the frame length as I am not blessed with long legs. The Pinnacle Californium comes in a 15 inch, but I was surprised how well I sat on a 17 inch adjusted Duchess. I love the upright handle bars (will do wonders for my terrible posture) most of all I loooooove the colour scheme. Love it love it, I want different not garden variety.  I’m giving it a “test drive” later this week

Oh and getting back into the saddle? I took advantage of Hackney Councils free cycle training. They have partnered up with Cycle Training UK so I booked 4 hours, which is splint into two sessions. My first two hours went great, didn’t want it to end.  My instructor Paul was great and my nerves vanished instantly. Next session sees me out on the road, which scares the hell out of me. It’s a real neat idea and is available for folks including children of all cycling ability. They even train lorry drivers, which can only be a good thing if it makes them more aware of cyclists.

Any of you apprehensive about cycling but went on ahead and did it?

And this is the bike I used courtesy of Hackney Council.  Watch this space!

Yup it even had the Hackney logo...

Yup it even had the Hackney logo…


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