On Yer Bike

SP_A0075This arrived in the post yesterday. It’s my Dublinbikes membership card.

Dublinbikes is the new bike-rental scheme in Dublin. 450 bikes have been placed at 20 different stations around the inner city, and the idea is that you hire one, make your journey, and leave it off at another station somewhere.

The system is based on the Velib system operated in Paris. This has been very popular, though unfortunately the bikes themselves have been subjected to extreme vandalism. Some have been found up in trees, some have been thrown into the Seine. If that’s the sort of behaviour that goes on in Paris, then many people fear for the bikes in Dublin, but Dublin City Council have optimistically said they are confident that the same thing will not happen here. (If they are speaking very literally then they are of course correct – it’s almost impossible to throw a bike into the Seine from here).

Anyway, for some reason I’ve decided to give it a try. I’m planning to use it to cycle to and from the station each day. The main flaw in my plan is that I’ve cycled just once in the last 35 years. That was last summer in France, when I cycled around a lake with Tinson1, and, as a description of how my nether regions felt afterwards, well, I just can’t top this . So, before I embark on my intended route, which will involve cycling along the traffic-packed quays, I’ve decided to practice for a few lunchtimes on some quiet roads around here.

Today was my first effort. I wobbled, wavered, went too slowly sometimes,  and discovered that the bike wheel is exactly the right width to get caught in the tram tracks of the Luas. The bikes are painted blue and are quite distinctive, so I attracted quite a bit of attention and comment, and was the butt of quite a lot of dry Dublin humour (sorry, but the word butt is at the forefront of my mind at the moment, as already I’m starting to feel a saddle-shaped pain in mine). Occasionally I’d work up a bit of speed and start to enjoy it, but then I’d hear traffic coming along behind me again, and I’d cravenly slow down & sometimes just pull in and get off.

Is it safe for a derealised man to cycle around a large city? Possibly not, which is why I’m just practising at the moment, & if I don’t feel happy then I won’t take it any further. Then again, thousands of people cycle in here, every day, so if I’m careful I should have nothing to worry about.

Besides, I have this.


I didn’t have a blog when I reached my 50th birthday, so never got to report how funny all my workmates found it, since none of them had even had a 40th, and indeed many hadn’t had a 30th. There was great excitement – and a cake – that morning, then about 15 of them brought me for lunch and insisted I had wine, and my timesheet for that afternoon still stands as a far finer work of fiction than anything I’ve ever written here.

My blackouts, at that time still unexplained, were at their most frequent around then, and I was still hitting my head off large parts of Dublin city, so among many other presents GoldenEyes and the Overlord bought me that cycling helmet.

And I kept it, though I was never quite sure why. And today, for the first time, I got to wear it.

My bum will probably be really sore after today’s workout (it’s sentences like that one that get you loads of hits, Mwa), but hopefully I’ve found a new and useful form of exercise.

5 thoughts on “On Yer Bike

  1. Mwa

    Thanks for the hint, tinman! I am not joking if I tell you that yesterday’s workout has left me with sore chest muscles. I should have written about that on my blog today then.

    I am so impressed with you for doing the biking thing. Not only are you an early adopter of a wonderful scheme, you will be doing some exercise and exposing yourself to the elements at the same time.

    (Writing that last comment, I realise I’m helping your stats along no end here.)

  2. A Frend

    I’ve been cycling in London for eight years, three with and five without helmets, having looked at the research and decided the evidence was not compelling that it’s a good idea.
    On the other hand, my main safety tactic is to obey the rules of the road and treat other road-users, ie drivers, with respect.
    Good luck with that in Dublin!

  3. SaS

    You might be better off sitting on the helmet, after all your face is well used to being introduced to Dublin city tarmac.

    As a long-time cyclist in the city, its not the traffic coming behind you that you have to worry about. Bloody pedestrians stepping off the pavement and pushing you under a bus are more of a hazard. As are the cars that don’t look before turning onto a main road – my one trip to casualty came about from that. I did have the luxury of having two ambulances fighting over me as to which one got to take me to A&E (there must be an ambulance-crew-member of the month award). The winner was the one that nearly ran me over as it was trying to stop beside me. I did suggest that one ambulance took me and the other took my bike but that just pissed them off even more…


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