To live and bike in Glasgow
To be cyclist in Glasgow you have to be partially insane. That being said, I’m certifiably nuts because I love biking in Scotland. I have always loved biking and I always will. Yet to own and continually use a bike in Scotland makes you a rare breed indeed. Last week hosted an incredible stretch of great weather. I mean like ‘Am I still in Glasgow?’ great. During this week, it seems that bikes had multiplied like rabbits and we regular users were forced to lock our bikes up in very un-regular places. Pushed away from bike racks and bike sheds, our metal steeds were hitched to trees, fences and even benches. Yet environmental selection would rear its ugly head and today, in the pissing rain, there were approximately 4 bikes at my regular spot and if my bike could talk I’m sure it would know them all by name.
Now to bike in Scotland I suggest the following things.
1. A helmet-this device turns someone opening a car door in your path into a joke about winning the ‘door prize’, and hey you may meet your soul mate while they are picking glass out of your face.
2. Lights-atleast two one if the front and
3. Two jackets-one should be light and water resistant (I roll with gortex) and one should be waterproof. Yes there is a BIG difference.
4. A balaclava or ski mask-buy one from an outdoors store, they keep the wind and rain out of your face. It also keeps you cycling in the winter. Be sure to take this off when going into a bank though, you don’t want to be known as the first eco-friendly bank robber.
5. Gloves-a set of biking gloves, that cover all of your hand. are worth their weight in gold when you hands are freezing cold and you have to stop quickly, say, to avoid someone opening their car door in your face. Many also have padding and added grip, which really help when it is raining, which is almost always around here.
6. Water proof trousers (pants = underwear, lead to some funny misunderstandings)- saved me from getting hypothermia numerous times. I suggest light trousers, a Velcro strap around the bottom allows you to tighten them so your gears don’t eat them which is likely to cause accidents.
7. Mudguards- you NEED these to reduce your jacket-washing from daily to monthly. Also if you don’t get the front mudguard you learn how to identify city streets by taste.
There are many additional items which are nice to have but not necessary for your biking experience. A set of clear sports goggles keeps the wind out of your eyes, which allows you to stop squinting (likely my next purchase). A backpack with the water-bladder feature keeps you hydrated and feeling like you should be in an advert.
So, what makes us cyclist crazy apart from weathering the weather? How about continually using nutty road system (ops, I’m now flying down a one way street, which may or may not lead to the afterlife). Maybe it is continually being sandwiched between pedestrians (who love to hand talk and cut out in front of you like a mentally handicapped deer) and drivers who consider you an annoyance and no more than a speed bump.
God I can’t wait to go out for a bike tomorrow!