Since my first real trip out of a safe seafront ride on 25th June, and after a couple of hours, over two days, of learning to actually ride the bike, the weather has been nothing but torrential rain and high winds. Definitely not weather to be out learning to ride a bike.
Yesterday however was a beautiful day. So I made up a flask of tea, a bottle of water and some sandwiches, and along with my ciggies I set off intending to spend a good few hours cycling out further from home.
I set off with the intention of cycling into Christchurch, visiting the priory, a walk along the river and have my packed lunch.
It didn't however turn out that way.
On setting out from home where the residential streets are very quiet at that time of day, I braved it and rode on the road. A bit nervous, but I kept a good distance from the kerb, about the same distance as I would have to with the front wheel of my trike, and all went smoothly.
I passed a couple of pedestrians, who with a smile stood aside for me. I duly thanked them, and also had a quick chat about us finally getting some lovely weather.
I also passed 5 cyclists coming in the other direction cycling illegally just as I was. I had to pull in for them as there is not enough space for cyclists to pass each other safely while still riding.
The pavement became legal to cycle on a short way down, and after riding a little way further I had to stop. Why? because quite honestly the journey from the time I picked up the main road until that point had not been at all a pleasure.
The paths, and I include the shared path, for a novice 2 wheeled cyclist, is a very hair raising experience. Ok I suppose I can't count the part of the path I was illegally riding on, but my only other choice was to cycle on the main road. For me that's a no, no.
On my trike of course I have never noticed this as I am stable and there is little chance of me wandering off the curb into the traffic.
So after I picked up the legal cycling part of the path and also ridden for a while along that I truly had had enough. At that point I was wishing I had taken my trike instead, and knew that even if I did carry on into Christchurch town I would only be dreading the journey back.
I turned around in disappointment at myself for being such a wuss and instead thought I would cross over and visit Highcliffe Castle grounds instead, knowing that from there it was a direct pathway down onto the beach path and I could go home from there.
I was really surprised that I hadn't known about this pathway. I knew the golf course was there but not that there was a pedestrian/cycle path.
I did get to the woods part of Steamer Point and started to ride through it, but it was so very muddy after all the rain that we have had, and I was by now starving hungry, that I back tracked on myself with a mental note to visit there again and investigate further. I had enjoyed that part of my trip out.
I sat contemplating how I hadn't enjoyed my cycling whilst having to cycle near the main road, and thought about what I was going to have to do about it. If I am too scared to go amongst traffic, even when on a pavement, how am I possibly going to replace my trike with this 2 wheeler for my everyday transport?
I am petrified of falling off of it, even though I am not finding balancing too hard as long as I don't have to make any tight cornering. I thoroughly enjoy riding it when off the road and where there is no traffic, but there isn't the same joy during the whole of a journey that I get from riding my trike.
I desperately want to learn to ride and enjoy riding this thing, but I am finding it harder to get the hang of than I did when I learned to drive. I had no fear of learning to drive, I just loathed driving. Here's me now, loving cycling but terrified learning.
By the time I got home I had been out for 3 hours so had had plenty of sunshine and a break from the flat. So all in all it was a worth while journey.
I did get home though dreading the thought of forcing myself out on the bike again.
I am so very angry at the moment with the fact that we have no cycling infrastructure. The Dutch can leave their homes and ride directly onto safe paths, lanes, and cycle roads. We have nothing in this area except a shared cycle/pedestrian pavement that is terrifying for a novice and very dangerous for young children to cycle on.
Note: The first couple of images are from google maps.