2012 started out as a great biking year for me, I reached a level of fitness around about May that I had not had for a long time, and, inspired, also by my restoration of the old Bennett, was biking nearly everywhere.
The Speedwell had its hub gear problems fixed early in the year and it became my main form of transport, it still is, as it is so comfortable and easy to ride. I can wear anything on it and easily ride around town. The gears work perfectly now though I have noticed that after a few weeks of not riding it, they take a little while to work perfectly again as there is a slight lag in the changing mechanism. Using the basket and a small backpack if needed, I can carry most things I need or buy.
I had restored the old Bennett 1980s 10-speed I was given earlier in the year and found it to be a great addition to my stable of bikes (though I had never before thought of myself as the sort of person who would have a stable of bikes….) It is faster than my other bikes and gets a lot of compliments when I ride it, one lady telling me the other day that it was a lovely bespoke bike. (I found her use of the term “bespoke” amusing and flattering as it is not that, though the changes I have made to the bike have possibly made it so.)
The second half of the year was not so good for me due to a relatively minor gum infection I had, but which knocked me out of the biking lifestyle for a long while – I lost fitness and gained weight and these things combined mean it will take me a while to regain the fitness I had earlier in the year, and fitness DOES make riding for transport a lot easier. (On the positive side, I found riding to the hospital for routine treatments I have a little easier last week.)
This involuntary hiatus from biking also meant that I missed out on: Bike Week, Bikefest, and Ride to Work Day, which were all good things for bike riding in Newcastle. Some of the bike infrastructure and signage improvements that have been made around Newcastle were done due to these events.
There have also been more counts of bikes done here as an initiative of Newcastle Cycleways Movement, and these have shown that, while there is a slight overall decrease in bike riders at the times of the counts, there has been a significant increase in riders on Fernleigh Track, which serves both recreational and commuting riders.
The diversity of bikes in Newcastle has definitely greatly improved and it was wonderful to see this little e-shopper at a local shopping centre recently, a sign that shopping by bike is becoming more the norm.
I have made several attempts to persuade friends to ride bikes but this has, so far, been unsuccessful. I was, however, delighted by this piece in the paper recently …It outlines how the writer, Emily Maguire, decided to get a bike after seeing her friends ride up to cafes to meet her for lunch, while she had to park blocks away. She then had to walk to her car after lunch and pay steeply for the privilege of this whole inconvenience. This inspired her to get a bike and learn from scratch how to ride it as she did not have the good luck of having learnt to ride as a child. This last bit is what made the story inspiring for me, as learning to ride a bike as an adult puts yet another barrier up for would-be adult riders, yet she overcame this and is now riding her own bike. It takes many motivations for people to choose to ride, I believe, and I hope some of my own friends see this article and take inspiration from it.