“When I was seven, my mother decided I should … go to Llandaff Cathedral School. (… ) I can remember very little about the two years I attended Llandaff Cathedral School (…) only two moments remain clearly in my mind. The first lasted more than five seconds but I will never forget it.
It was my first term and I was walking home alone across the village green after school when suddenly one of the senior twelve-year-old boys came riding full speed down the road on his bicycle about twenty yards away from me.
The road was on a hill and the boy was going down the slope, and as he flashed by he started backpedalling very quickly so that the free-wheeling mechanism of his bike made a loud whirring sound. At the same time, he took his hands off the handlebars and folded them casually across his chest. I stopped dead and stared after him.
How wonderful he was! How swift and brave and graceful in his long trousers with bicycle-clips around them and his scarlet school cap at a jaunty angle on his head!
One day, I told myself, one glorious day I will have a bike like that and I will wear long trousers with bicycle-clips and my school cap will sit jaunty on my head and I will go whizzing down the hill pedalling backwards with no hands on the handlebars!
I promise you that if somebody had caught me by the shoulder at that moment and said to me, ‘What is your greatest wish in life, little boy? What is your absolute ambition? To be a doctor? A fine musician? A painter? A writer? Or the Lord Chancellor?’
I would have answered without hesitation that my only ambition, my hope, my longing was to have a bike like that and to go whizzing down the hill with no hands on the handlebars. It would be fabulous. It made me tremble just to think about it.”
Adapted from Roald Dahl: “Boy – Tales of Childhood”
If you have ever ridden like Roald Dahl describes it, carefree as a bird, soaring down a hill, you know one of the true pleasures of life. Images like this stick in our heads for a longtime and impressions similar to this make us crave for more.
Watch out! Biking is contagious. Once you start it is impossible to give up.