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Wave Your Rave – Being a Born Again Cyclist

I used to be one of those people who sneered with disdain when a cyclist, clad in fluorescent hideousness, sped past me on the way to campus. During the morning rush, the sudden appearance of a helmeted moron tearing past me on the pavement (even if I was wrongly trespassing within the boundaries of the cycle lane) made me unreasonably irritated. Yet now, since the arrival of an old familiar friend, things have changed. After realising that spending a fortune on buses and wasting an exhausting amount of time walking to and from campus and work was no longer an option, I naturally found myself pondering the possibility of cycling. And so, I am once again the proud and loving owner of a purple mountain bike.

To begin with we had our ups and downs. Upon my first, tentative trip into campus I found myself wheeling the stupid thing back with a hopelessly flat tyre. Now I am a fully-fledged cyclist, complete with flashing detachable lights, fluorescent vest and, the pièce de résistance, a shocking pink cagoule (in a bag), for those unpredictable rainstorms.

These days, I love nothing more than to smugly glide past sweaty students, speed-walking in the vague hope of making their seminars on time. I can now be safe in the knowledge that when I arrive on campus, I may well be one of those superiorly early students who have time to nonchalantly grab a quick coffee. As I cruise around the streets of Lenton, if I close my eyes (well, metaphorically, realistically that would be dangerous) and ignore the puddles of vomit and take-away boxes littering the pavement, I am once again a child, zipping freely along the tree-lined paths of a local park.

I have a heightened awareness of road safety, because it can be a tough world out there for cyclists, particularly when Jeremy Clarkson-type motorists insist upon ignoring your right to the road. If I am feeling particularly daring I will occasionally take my hands from the breaks and recklessly freewheel, just a little bit, down Derby Road.

Although initially reluctant to don the safety gear, I have now embraced cycling wear, and it is strangely liberating. Cyclists, really, are exempt from the rules of the fashion police. So, I am officially a reformed cyclist. One of them. And God forbid any pedestrians who wander into the designated cycle paths.

Ellie Blanchette

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