New blogging gig and a commitment to cycling

So I’m now also going to be blogging over on the Broken Spoke website.

Here’s my first post for them, about the time those nasty people stole the wheels off my bike.

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What is a bicycle? A frame and a pair of wheels? A method of getting from point A to point B?

To me, a bicycle is freedom. Freedom that I’d taken for granted until one day a couple of months ago when I returned home from a weekend away to see only part of my bike locked to the lamp post where I had left it. Thieves had taken both my wheels, leaving a sad looking slightly rusted frame.

The bike wasn’t worth much. It was Halford’s cheapest option, eight years ago when I first started at university and didn’t know anything about cycling (or life). In fact, I still don’t know anything much about bicycle maintenance. My eight year old bike had been severely neglected, left out in the rain, never oiled and barely washed. My housemate concluded that buying replacement wheels would cost more that the whole thing was worth, so I unlocked the frame (which disappeared about two hours later).

The following week was one of frustration. Frustration at waiting for the bus that should have arrived ten minutes ago, frustration at the walk home that was taking so long, frustration at having to carry heavy shopping bags that would otherwise have been in a basket. I felt so held back by the extra time it took to get places and by being at the mercy of the Oxford Bus Company.

Now I’m back in the saddle, and it’s incredible. Right the first ride on my new bike when I’d felt the wind against my face. I was moving so fast!

I vowed never to take cycling for granted again. This time, I’m going to learn to look after my bike properly, keep it safe, and use it more than ever. Like Carlene Thomas-Bailey I can barely identify a pump. But with the help of Broken Spoke, I’m going to become an expert. Watch this space.

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Some things to do in London

1. Drink chai latte in a trendy cafe in Shoreditch. Worry that enjoying this makes you a hipster. Get told that dating a boy with a sleeve of video game tattoos means you’re already there.

2. Think you can walk across the city in the same way you can if you want to get to the other side of Oxford. Walk for an hour, get no closer to where you want to go. Get on a tube anyway.

View from the flat, and some of the vehicles that stopped me sleeping.

View from the flat, and some of the vehicles that stopped me sleeping.

3. Be kept awake all night by the sound of traffic. Seriously, do people never stop going places round here? It’s 3am: stop driving.

This mirrors my own thoughts about food.

This mirrors my own thoughts about food.

4. Visit the Vikings: life and legend at the British Museum. Lose concentration and start thinking about lunch. Discover that people have been doing this forever. (This point sells the exhibition short. It’s actually really good: you should go. If you want a better write up, read the thoughts of the person I saw it with).

Harriet takes a break from taking photographs to be in one.

Harriet takes a break from taking photographs to be in one.

5. Be tourists by walking for hours taking pictures of the outside of everything, but not paying to go inside. Only go into the National Gallery to use the toilet.

Apparently this means wife cake (hurrah for Cantonese speaking boyfriends).

Apparently this means wife cake (hurrah for Cantonese speaking boyfriends).

6. Go to Chinatown and eat the funniest sounding pastry you can find.

7. Get on the bus back to Oxford because there is no place like home.