Resisting the internal combustion engine itch and committing to two wheels | Jack Marshall's column
My first cycling experience was at the park. I can still feel the wobble of the handlebars as my dad’s hand left my back, pushing me forwards and trusting me to my own devices. I fell off.
While the falls are far less frequent these days (let’s not tempt fate) I’m still a fairweather cyclist to this day. I bob down to the shop on my bike, cycle to the gym on my bike, and - every now and again - trundle tipsily back from my brother’s house on my bike.
Cycling is a practical pursuit, a way of getting to the fun rather than the fun itself. I’m the polar opposite to a Mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) for the simple reason that I’m far too lazy for that kind of behaviour and saddle-sore is a real thing, people.
It was uni that rekindled cycling as a concept for me. Biking to and from lectures was common, so a cheap bike was swiftly procured courtesy of eBay. But then something strange happened. Out of nowhere, cycling became a Big Thing amongst me and my housemates.
We’d cycle from Nottingham to Derby and back, up to Ilkeston and down to Loughborough. Suddenly, cycling was the fun. It was a glorious time of thick thighs and puncture repair kits. But it died with graduation and the bike once again became a mere tool.
Fast forward to the present day and, despite working from home and not really needing one, the innate temptation of a car is growing. I’ve told myself stories of all the adventures I could have if only I had access to some beat-up old VW Golf or rusty Ford Fiesta. I don’t need it, I want it.
Suddenly, I look at the bike - a trusty tool for almost a decade - as lame and inferior. And, if I’m being brutally honest, I’m starting to resent a mode of transport which requires me, as a grown man, to wear hi-vis in winter and a helmet that makes me look like an absolute goon.
This is unfair. Cycling has kept me (relatively) fit, has been (mostly) enjoyable, and is climate-friendly. Everything says I should forego any temptations of an internal combustion engine persuasion and embrace the saddle. But the itch remains (mental, not physical)
I’ve even totted up how much I could sell my bike forwith half a mind to then put that towards a car. But I can’t quite bring myself to do it.
Ultimately, any change to four wheels rather than two would be based on want not need. And, fundamentally, I don’t really want to give up the cycling life just yet.