Last time we cycled along the fantastically family-friendly Kennet & Avon canal cycle route, I was on my beautiful Raleigh Superbe bike. I’d picked it up on eBay and felt so smug as it was in near-perfect condition and was totally Instagram friendly (yay!). I put how hard I found cycling down to my poor fitness level, but as the twins’ confidence and cycling speed has rocketed, I’ve found myself lagging further and further behind. The crunch came on what should have been a really easy cycle as a family to our local park. The rest of my troupe raced on ahead, but had to keep stopping to wait for me to catch them up as I pedalled furiously, feeling like I was going to have a heart attack and, if I’m honest, crying a bit. I knew my bike was heavy and a little unwieldy, but when we got home I demanded that we weigh my bike and Ben’s to compare them. We were astounded. Ben’s bike weighs 12kg. Mine? A whopping 24kg. No wonder I was finding it so hard to make it move! I needed something infinitely more practical.
When it came down to it, I had to compromise. I loved how my old bike looked, but it just wasn’t up to the job from a performance point of view. My priority became weight and ease of riding rather than looks. I researched online, read countless reviews and discovered that a hybrid bike seemed like the best option for me – a road bike perfect for the school run that can also double up as a trail bike when we head out for family rides in our local forest at the weekend. After some good advice instore, I chose the Carrera Crossfire 2 Women’s Hybrid Bike 2015. Made from lightweight aluminium it ticks the all-important ‘not too heavy’ box, the suspension gives me a much smoother ride, and the 21 speed Shimano gears mean I can actually ride up hills. You see, it turns out it wasn’t my fitness levels holding me back, it was my bike.
My first outing on my new Crossfire was a total revelation. I felt superhuman! Once I’d got the hang of the gears (my old Raleigh had five gears, only three of which actually worked) I was off, and cycling immediately became so much more enjoyable. Plus, once I’d added my essential cycling accessory – a wicker bike basket – to the front, I didn’t even mind that it isn’t a vintage design. We now cycle to school most days (because I’m no longer looking for an excuse not to), and we often head out together at the weekend.
It felt great to be back by the Kennet & Avon canal. This is such a glorious cycle path – stunning scenery, lovely flat cycle ways, and a great tearoom halfway along our route (at Aldermaston Wharf). Last time we came here it was spring, and I loved seeing it in a different season. The sun had that end-of-summer-start-of-autumn warmth but there were plenty of signs that autumn is here. We’d come prepared with a box to collect blackberries so that we could bake up a blackberry and apple crumble when we got back home – the perfect way to finish a lovely day out and to celebrate autumn’s arrival.
Disclosure: My Carrera Crossfire 2 was bought with a discount from Halfords but all views are honest and my own