This tatty old bike has no monetary value but the joy riding it brings is immeasurable; you’re at one with yourself, energised, and happy. These two wheels have accompanied many trekking visits around the Yorkshire Dales to cruising along the Brighton/Bognor Regis sea front. The freedoms afforded when riding a bike are liberating. The distance you can cover could not be compared to that of walking. Oh, and the joys of gravity when cycling is a wonderful thing, sometimes.
Clapham Common gives the feeling of safety and space; filled with dog walkers, joggers, couples, singletons and the sound of happy children. I receive quite a few looks, but being dressed like Jane Fonder from a workout DVD probably doesn’t help. However, the alternative is a fluorescent green onesie, and that’s a definite no-no as it’s too much of a reminder that pantomime season beckons. Deciding on what item of clothing to present to the audience on the common green is made the night before. No matter what I choose, people will look, so why not look fabulous? However, a fresh face of makeup is never a good idea as beads of sweat begin trickling down my nose; certainly not the look I’m going for. I’m ready and pumped up; my tightly clenched little hands grab the handle bars.
Head phones and sunglasses at the ready, blocking out unwanted sunlight, noise disturbances and midges! Yes, you heard right, midges! Not ‘midgets,’ as has been previously bellowed out of car windows. The amount of times I’ve wanted to stick my tongue out at the rudeness of others, I can’t count; but then as if by magic, my saving grace, my favourite song begins to play, and I accelerate, Bradley Wiggins style.
Exiting the park to continue a two mile round journey via pathways adjacent to the busy main Clapham Road is where the nervous disposition begins for me. Immediately the interest of onlookers is piqued as if the bike takes to the bends like a member of team GB cycling squad. My gaze is occasionally averted by the scores of vehicles caught up at the traffic lights; approval from the white van man, the bus driver, the motorcyclist giving an extra rev, and the man walking his dog gives a cheeky wink! All amused by a tiny 124 centimetre woman flying past on her bike.
I used to feel seriously stupid riding a bike, but as the serotonin kicks in so does the confidence. My aim is never try and compete against the hordes of Lycra-wearing cyclists whom grace our roads daily.
My interest in cycling started after reading that cycling and exercise can help lower depression. Of course I doubted it initially, being depressed you would right? The results were evident right away and I’ve been sold ever since.
As interest turns to the Rio Olympics over the coming weeks it would be great if the public remembered that when you see a person with dwarfism riding their bike, that most are riding to keep their sanity, not trying to win a gold medal in the upcoming Paralympics.
Yes, people with dwarfism cycle, and for me it’s to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As fascinating as we may look whilst riding a bike, to us it’s maintaining or fighting off unwanted medical issues. Or more importantly enjoying the great outdoors!