Sunday, 4 October 2009

New toy...

Look what I got.... It's a Gary Fisher AR Super, courtesy of the nice people at Birmingham City Cycles ....


I had always thought that professional bike fitting services were for elite cyclists - something that would provide an extra tweak to an already highly honed performance. I was too embarrassed to present myself to be measured up when I can barely huff my way up a slope without turning purple with exertion, or (keen cyclists look away now....) getting off and walking. Anyway, it turns out that this is ridiculous, and, like getting running shoes that fit properly and are suited to your biomechanics, surprise, surprise, the same goes for bikes. So, it turns out that the back and neck pain that I've been experiencing for years when cycling is not due to me being a rubbish cyclist (although I am...), but that my various bikes didn't fit me very well. My lovely new bike, on the other hand, rides like a dream, and having just come back from a little spin in the sunshine, I can happily report not so much as a twinge of pain or discomfort. Joy.
Buying it was fairly drawn out, but fascinating process. I found some of the "serious" bike shops I visited too intimidating and unable to cope with my lack of knowledge (interest?) in technical details, and lack of serious racing ambition. So then I tried some of the more "high street" chains, but quickly got frustrated by being told that I would definintely need a woman's fit bike because women have long legs and short, slim torsos, in spite of the obvious fact that I was standing right in front of them and clearly have neither. Fantastically, I was shown several woman's fit bikes that didn't have a woman's fit saddle on them, which is extraordinary when you consider that that is really the one bit of gender-specific kit that no woman should be without because...well... any cycling women out there will know.
But anyway.... I'm delighted with my final purchase - surely it's only a matter of time now before I start to love cycling...
On the swiming front, if you get chance, you should list to the Radio 4 documentary Black Men Can't Swim - it's a really good challenge to racist, biologically determinist ideas that black people cannot swim, focusing instead on the expectation of swimming failure that is imposed on black and minority children, coupled with a lack of opportunity. There's a wonderful moment when young, black kid in the US talks about having swum his first length and how proud he felt. I spend a lot of my research life reading about, and listening to, people talking endlessly about the need to get children to do sport so that they don't get fat, but all this does (in my view) is set up sport as something that you have to endure in order to get another (highly uncertain) benefit; it seems to me that the joy and confidence that this kid got is a much more tangible and immediate benefit, and one that has the added advantage of valuing bodies for what they can achieve rather than what they look like.
I, in the mean time, have just sent off my paperwork for a Jersey to France crossing next July by way of a pre-Channel outing. I wonder if I'll be a Channel swimmer this time next year....

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