The Lazy Journalist - Back in the saddle and trundling along

Steve Holloway
Steve Holloway

As HG Wells once wrote (and I’ve quoted endlessly): “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

I’m back on two wheels for the first time since Brexit seemed like an even more far-fetched and absurd idea than it does now, and the President of the US was a fine and decent individual.

A man who still probably rode his bike faster the Lazy Journalist - Norman Wisdom (Photo by Ron Burton/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

A man who still probably rode his bike faster the Lazy Journalist - Norman Wisdom (Photo by Ron Burton/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

It’s all part of my semi-holistic approach to shifting the grotesque flab and sorting out my not entirely reliable health.

Thus far the journeys have been short and restricted to quiet roads and the seafront cycle-path.

The latter hasn’t improved and is still the close equivalent to riding along the Wall of Death, for both cyclists and pedestrians.

This is largely because the bike path dangerously blends in with the pavement (some more bike symbols and a fresh splash of paint wouldn’t hurt) and because most visiting tourists either don’t notice the bike path, or just don’t care, and step aimlessly in front of cyclists, like lemmings who’ve had a particularly tough time of it recently.

The gym at the King Alfred Leisure Centre, Hove

The gym at the King Alfred Leisure Centre, Hove

Elsewhere, drivers still act like you’re responsible for the slow and painful deaths of their entire families, and no quarter is given. But equally, some mad-dog cyclists don’t help to ease the tension, like the girl I saw bombing down a road at 10.30pm with zero lights or reflectors, and wearing a dark camouflage jacket. Genius.

In the past two months I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the exercise bikes at the Prince Regent or King Alfred gyms.

Admittedly, some of that time has been spent cleverly multi-tasking, either reading my Kindle or watching televised sport on my phone, but it’s still cycling of sorts and you can’t take that away from me.

Those hours on stationary bikes has proved useful for the moving variety (I don’t try to watch snooker at the same time while avoiding the homicidal motorists, although texting while riding appears to be all the rage these days).

Sweating away on the bike machines has definitely made the return to saddle a little easier, but I suppose my tone shouldn’t be too triumphant as I’ve been fairly hill-averse thus far.

In fact I’ve avoided most gradients but will try to get up to speed hill-wise in the coming weeks.

In terms of actual speed, I’m less Bradley Wiggins and more like Nerys Hughes in The District Nurse (one for the teenagers).

Initially I thought I was at least travelling faster than those people on pale blue City Bikes, but then even one of those rattled past me.

Regardless of my gentle pace I’m pleased to be out on the bike again.

In days gone by a bike was my primary form of transport and it’s nigh-on perfect for Brighton (give or take a few iffy hills).

Getting out and about on the bike again has been like catching up with a good friend, albeit a good friend that’s been gathering dust and curses in the hallway for three years.

The next time I have some time off during the week I plan to scoot along the seafront and then take a nice leisurely, and very careful pedestrian-aware ride along the Undercliff walk to Saltdean. Admittedly, the route is as flat as a board but you can’t beat it when the sun’s shining. And then obviously try to get round to some hills...

To find our more about Freedom Leisure’s Brighton and Hove gyms visit www.freedom-leisure.co.uk/centres/