Careering along the narrow cycle track towards Southport, a couple of oncoming cyclists pulled politely onto the verge to let us pass, judging (probably wisely) the momentum of tandem and trailer to be not worth arguing with. Respecting their nervousness I slowed to a stop to ensure they didn’t get caught in our slipstream , and to say thanks.
“I’m just learning to ride,” said Diane, “so still a bit wobbly.” She looked to be doing alright though, getting the hang of it on nice, flat traffic free track along the grassy dunes near Southport. “Haven’t ridden in nearly 40 years,” she continued, smiling more confidently now she had stopped, “since I was just a kid. Sounds amazing what you’re doing.”
But it’s not that amazing really. Most people could cycle twenty five miles a day if they wanted to. It’s not hard, you just need to want to. Age is no barrier, nor experience. You’re never too old to ride a bike or to learn to ride one. Craig, a cycle skills trainer I met recently, told me a wonderful story about a man of 77 who had never ridden a bike before but wanted to learn because his new partner loved cycling. “We spent an afternoon together,” Craig explained, “practising balance, starting, stopping. By the end, he cycled 100 yards on his own. He was so chuffed.” And rightly so. The world needs more cyclists and it’s great to see people like Diane getting back on their bikes, enjoying the sunshine, the fresh air, the exercise and the world around them.
“You could do something like this, a trip together” I said to Diane and her partner Derek, “if you wanted to.” I thought I detected a spark of interest, imagining them riding off somewhere further afield together. “Get yourself some panniers, take off somewhere for a week, a month or more.” Diane smiled, “I think I need more practice first, I had to take my basket off because it made me fall over.” A small but not insignificant matter that I hope she overcomes.