Sunday, 21 April 2013

My Second First Bike Ride!

As I climbed onto the saddle I was reminded of being a small child again who had stabilisers on her 'ice princess' bike wobbling up and down the cul-de-sac. Or maybe like the time when I took my cycling proficiency test at primary school and failed miserably- twice. Cycling has always been a source of great enjoyment for me but I am not particularly brilliant at doing it 'properly'. Gears are just handle bars you can turn in my opinion and as for 'correct braking'... if you need to brake you just yank on them until you stop. It has been a long time since I last rode a bike because I was too nervous with my sight deterioration. Maybe the fact that I was told to: "Just act like you can see over your left shoulder" during cycling lessons was a contributing factor- considering I have always seen nothing on my left side so traffic assessing would be... tricky.

Picture of Guide Dog Laila watching authoritatively as a man, dave, blows up a tire.
Laila and Dave MOTing the bike!
Today I was offered the chance to ride my bike for a bit. I surprised myself by jumping at the opportunity and soon my tires were pumped up and my saddle was deemed low, but not too low, after all these years. This was the first time in roughly four years that I had ridden a bike since developing my eye condition. It was terrifying, tense, worrying but overall amazing, fun and liberating. Sure- for the vast amount of time I was either crashing into things or riding in circles- but it felt pretty great!

Myself, Mum, and Dave used a variety of methods to get me moving better after this video was taken. The most effective being a 'follow my voice' technique which worked well but it was rather difficult to judge handlebar positions when I needed to turn. We also discovered that it is difficult to use the 'small child' approach of holding the back of the bike when a blind fifteen year old is riding it as Mum found out. The problem arose when I thought right was left and Mum -after shouting "TURN LEFT"- did so, and I went my own version of 'left' which happened to be 'right'. I cut in front of her and she fell over... I feel a bit bad about that still.

I was riding a single bike as apposed to a tandem which maybe was not the best option if I wanted to be serious and directional with my peddling. However, it certainly added the adrenaline factor of not being able to see where I was going. I can be seen in the video below, recorded by my laughing mother, crashing up and down from curb to curb and at one point into a tree. It really was fun! I am going to look into tandem groups for the visually impaired because I would like to do some more cycling but maybe the more 'travelling' kind! Considering the cycling proficiency failure I am not sure if I will be much good, but surely it has to help if someone who can see beyond the handlebars is steering!

Me narrowly avoiding a car looking surprised on my black bike

1 comment:

  1. Imi,, I ride with Beechholme VI tandem club in Hull, iif you want a try let me know, it's great, I love it and tandems let you just enjoy the ride and speed without the crash at the end!