I vividly remember my first ride with the University of York cycling club. The embarrassment is etched into my psyche and there it is likely to stay!
I had spent the summer of first year rediscovering a love for cycling and decided that upon arriving back at uni, I’d give the cycling club a go. So I turned up on my Dutch sit up and beg bike (one of those chunky, feminine town bikes that often has a basket on the front) and proceeded to have my legs annihilated on what was considered by the club a ‘leisure ride’, I was escorted home with my helmet hung low.
But…this isn’t a tale of woe! The aforementioned incident merely sparked my dogged personality and having upgraded to a more road worthy model and spent weeks drilling the same route through fear of getting lost I was able to attend the University of York Cycling Club rides with my helmet held high, and have been doing so ever since.
So did I ever find another route? My god yes…
Through cycling I have discovered almost every village, every landmark, every hill, every Yorkshire oddity within a 30-mile radius of York. I’ve drunk tea by the riverside at Knaresborough, I’ve eaten chips on the Filey seafront, I’ve watched gliders take off Sutton Bank and I’ve seen the monks wondering the grounds of Ampleforth.
When I have talked to students who don’t cycle about these places, they look at me blankly and I pity them. My two wheels and ability to burn fat not oil means I have this luxury. To truly understand a city like York you have to know it’s surrounding. Wetwang? Ever heard of it? How about Eddlesthorpe? Surely Kirkham Abbey? Over the years my knowledge of local villages and roads is almost like a badge of honour, I’m called upon like a human map to reveal the most beautiful and undiscovered places around York.
I love taking out the eager freshers and showing them where the Bishop of York really lives…(I’ll give you a clue, it’s nowhere near the Minster) pure pedal power gives us this freedom and is the reason I will probably never stop riding my bike.