Saturday, 30 August 2008


I always laugh at the TV adverts which tell you that their product "gives you confidence". Usually the product is connected to bodily functions in some way: deodorant, good-bacteria yogurt, toothpaste or cracked heel balm. And these adverts make me laugh because they do the absolute opposite of give you confidence. They give you anxiety, and then helpfully suggest that you could get rid of the anxiety they've just given you by buying their product.

Last week, after dithering all summer, I bought myself a bicycle.

The dithering had been over whether I could use it to cycle to work (is it too far? will I arrive too hot and sweaty? how will I find my way through Hackney? can I get to work quickly enough?). Then one day at work last week, I found I'd just had enough of my own anxious whining. So I went to the bike shop when I left the office for the evening and bought myself a bike. Just like that. No messing.

I bought a helmet, some locks and lights and a bright fluorescent waistcoat too, got on the bike and steered my way out into the evening rush hour traffic through the City. That, my friends, is confidence!

I've never cycled in London before, and I always get lost going through Hackney, but I wasn't fazed. Just utterly fearless, full of confidence, zooming up Kingsland Road in my geeky high-vis jacket with the evening breeze ruffling my hair ( zooming might be exaggerating a little...). I didn't miss any turnings, I didn't have to get off and push up any hills, I even cycled round a huge roundabout, alongside a double-decker bus, without mishap.

I arrived home rather weary, but on such a high, and full of confidence to do it again when I'm at work next week.

Oh, and the other illustration of my confidence? Putting up these photos of me in ridiculous bike clothing and squinting at the sun. I must be mad!


  1. Absolutely brilliant, good for you, and what a great way to keep fit..must try it!
    I'm guessing that it wasn't raining though?? Do you have a fluorescent 'muddy puddles' suit for when it does, so you arrive at work with dry legs??

  2. Well done you, I used to cycle occasionally but then left my bike in the shed so long it seized up and went rusty and I haven't got on a bike since. It's the thought of getting on the roads again that scares me, I'm sure once I do it I'll be fine just like you were. A great way to get from A to B and keep fit at the same time.
    Oh, and I hate most of those ads especially for items of a more, ahem, personal nature, shall we say!

  3. Good for you! How fantastic. My bike is languishing at the back of the shed at the moment, and with my total lack of direction I WOULD get lost through Hackney! Plus I'd be worrying about what I'd do when it rained and how I'd manage with helmet hair!!!

  4. who the hell needs cracked heel balm anyway!
    There is something incredibly liberating in bike riding, I think. I MUST get mine out of the shed!
    You look brilliant in the very cool high vis jacket as well!x

  5. WOW riding a bike on the roads in London! Well done and I hope it lives up to your excitement. I have a bike that is rusting away in the shed, that every now and then I think about getting out...but haven't so far - shame on me
    Take Care
    Clare x

  6. well done! a bike is so liberating, I love to sneak past all the stationary traffic, although York is well blessed with cycle routes, I may not be so brave in London!

  7. I have got the heal balm!! Not nice stuff - V. V. greasy and make my feet really hot so adding to my anxiety about a smelly feet problem!!
    Brave girl you are - will be thinking of you on Wednesday!
    Really enjoyed this morning - Thank you! F+T are happy to have played with people other than each other!!

  8. good for you Nancy! i've been wanting to ride my bike to work for ages, but I always come up with excuses why I can't. feeling a bit ashamed of myself now--i only have a few neighborhood streets to ride on, not the streets of London!

  9. Kingsland Road during rush hour, well done you!


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