If you’re sitting comfortably then I’ll begin.
There was once a girl of indeterminate (but definitely not excessive) years who loved bicycles so much that not a day would go past without some time spent riding her shiny, metallic steeds.
The girl loved them so much she had not one, not three, but FIVE bicycles of all different kinds, which lived at home with her in her house.
There were bikes for all occasions, bikes for going fast on, for going slow and seeing the world on, and the most fun of all, springy bikes, for jumping over house-sized boulders and sliding down muddy cliff faces on*
(*some exaggeration in regard to obstacle size may apply).
One day, whilst out in the woods, riding over these giant rocks the girl fell off and hurt both her arms quite badly. Ouch. Her arms were bandaged up by doctors in big plaster-casts and slings for many weeks and she began to miss cycling more than anything in the universe and beyond.
The girl desperately wanted to cycle again because it was the one thing in the world that made her truly happy. I really wannado it she cried! So she thought about how she could make this happen?
First she tried riding a bike on the turbo trainer, but nearly fell asleep with boredom. Plus the dreadful smell of burning rubber tyres made her feel nauseous. I don’t wannado that.
Next the girl tried going to the gym. This was better because the bicycles there had televisions on which you could pretend you were riding up big mountains or around famous cities.
This was ok at first but, after a while the girl had ridden round all the famous cities and up and down all the mountains on offer. They never varied and you had to take the same route every time no matter how much you tried to steer down a different trail. She also resented the over-abundance of weird old men in socks and sandals who insisted on cycling next to her even though the entire row of machines was free and who never wiped down their sweaty saddles afterwards. Ugh
So she grew bored with the gym and didn’t wannado that.
The girl even tried joining in with bike riding friends on foot, running alongside to keep up. It was certainly good to be in the fresh air but the bikes were too fast and she often had to go back and wait by the car.
Watching the riders return muddy and elated her little cog-shaped heart filled with sadness and her tummy twisted up with small green brambles of envy. Not envy of the people, who were lovely, but of the opportunity to be the one riding through the mud and the wind.
Time went by and the girl started to heal. She regained the use of one arm and was happier as she was able to do many more things. But not cycling.
She missed the feel of the pedals under her toes and the power and freedom of bike wheels turning away underneath her, of moving under her own steam.
Now the girl was lucky and had some wonderful, kindly friends who had been visiting throughout this time, to go walking with the girl, to help her in the house and garden and be lovely, caring companions, but they also saw how sad she was at not being able to cycle. Until, one day, the girl made a discovery.
Deep in heart of the New Forest, not so far away, there was a magical place that had for (very reasonable) hire, crazyilly built machines called Inclusive Bikes. This weird and wonderful collection of contraptions sported wheels and handlebars but not in any of the configurations she and her friends were used to.
The strangely shaped objects had 3 or 4 wheels, weird seating arrangements, slung low to the floor or high up and chair like. Machines you pedalled with your hands or machines steered with your feet. Bikes for all abilities.
And within this magical, mythical herd, was something just right for her, a side-by side recumbent trike.
A dazzling, bright yellow beast that sat two people side by side. Each person had their own, unique , 3 x 7 chainset to allow them to pedal independently at their own cadence; steering and front braking was via a central arm which allowed both riders equal access. Far better than a tandem, not only for safety and balance, it also meant equality for both riders in terms of pedalling and steering.
It even had an electric turbo-charged booster if your legs got tired mid-ride – like that would ever happen she scoffed!
I wannado it cried the girl. So much so I think I may burst if I don’t! So, one of her lovely, adventuresome friends drove the girl deep into the New Forest where the mythical beasts lived, there amongst the ancient oaks, in the old hunting grounds of King Henry the VIII.
The girl was ecstatic, after so many weeks without being able to cycle, here at last was a way to make her heart happy. After many adjustments and wobbles around the car park the girl and her intrepid friend set off into the woods, taming the bike-creature along the way with the minimum of squabbling about directions or cursing about the erratic steering (never the girl’s fault as she steered beautifully).
The bike zipped along, low to the floor, wheel height to the many of the large cars which looked quite nonplussed at the yellow streak of metal that flashed by. Off road it bounced happily through mud, water and horse manure to shrieks of unbridled delight from the girl. Ponies and campers passed by in a blur. Ten miles later the girl and her friend were muddy, oily and laughing so much it hurt. The girl’s cog-shaped heart swelled to bursting point with joy.
Since then other lovely, adventuresome friends have taken up the challenge alongside the girl, lured by both the strange machines and the abundance of delicious New Forest ice cream.
Other people also learned about the girl’s adventures and were in turn inspired to try the fabulous stable of mythical bikes. People, similar to the girl, who can’t, for a whole variety of reasons, ride the usual looking bikes that we all know about.
So the girl continues to wait and heal, but her cog-shaped heart is once again filled up with happiness at being able to cycle in the world outside. To hear the rushing of the wind, to make her lungs and muscles work as one and to feel the world travel by beneath the wheels which her legs are turning. The Wannado, has become a Can-do.
The girl appreciates very much that health and ability aren’t always constant things and she is thankful too, in an even greater way than when riding her usual bikes . She is also truly grateful for the lovely, kindly friends and family who make her life the happy place that it is, and who are willing to go on crazy adventures with her.
Finally, as ever, she is amazed and humbled at the spirited human-kind, who dreamt up and engineered this wonderful variety of mythical machines and in doing so, enabled more people, of differing abilities, to experience the one thing she loves most in the world.
The End….. or is it?
With thanks to my beautiful friends and family, to adventurers Jacky and Andy and to Cycle Experience, Brockenhurst for the magical Cheetah.