I am now 78, and I still cycle a lot. My wife was given her first bike (without gears) when she was a teenager. During her summer holidays, at the age of 16, she cycled hundreds of Kilometres in Germany and Austria accompanied by her vicar’s daughter, staying overnight at Youth Hostels etc.
I cannot really remember a time during my life when I didn’t cycle; I cycled to school (and that was during WW2 when there was plenty of enemy action going on around us). Now we use our bikes for leisure and pleasure, and most local journeys such as shopping. We enjoy cycle-touring, but largely abroad, where cyclists seem to be so much better catered for.
A bicycle need not be new, it need not be expensive; what ever it might cost is disproportionate to the pleasure it will bring.
In 1993 I was very seriously injured in a car crash, I was lucky to survive (only because I had been fairly fit), and it was thought that I might loose a leg, and that I would not walk again, after three months in hospital, I was out and in a wheelchair, able to hobble about on crutches I persuaded my son to help me onto a borrowed ladies bike, and he, and my wife, walked and then ran along side as I cycled a short distance on the flat cul-de-sac. They helped me dismount. We were all scared stiff in case I fell off. Although I was only able to peddle with one foot, but within a few days, I managed to achieve 24 km.
Back home we removed the toe-clip from one pedal so that the foot of my damaged leg could slide on the pedal, and the other leg relied on the clip to keep the pedals in motion. After another operation on my knee to improve flexibility, I gradually and steadily improved; cycling further and further; to such an extent that in 1998 I rode a C2C ride the Mediterranean to the Baltic coasts, through France over the Jura Mountains into Switzerland, through Germany and the Czech Republic, and Germany again; a distance of about 3000km carrying camping gear. We have continued to tour abroad, have ridden several C2C rides, and recently cycled from our home in Ashford, to Berlin, via Harwich the Hook of Holland, and our last ride was along the Baltic coast into Poland.
I have no doubt that cycling has contributed greatly to my regaining health, and mobility (although I will never be 100% fit again). It is amazing how much a bicycle can improve the mobility of a frail or disabled person.
It only needs a short cycle ride to clear a headache, to invigorate the downhearted. Out in our beautiful countryside, astride a bike one is close to one’s environment, and one can meet interesting people along the way, which is not possible when entombed in a car. What’s more, parking is easy, and it’s free! - Ted Prangnell (via email)