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The delights of travel on two wheels

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With Christmas calorific overload just days away now, our thoughts may soon be turning to ways of shedding those unwanted pounds in the New Year. Here, Travel PR’s Stephanie Reed reflects on seeing the world on two wheels – a top tip for healthy holidays and a great way to beat the bulge in 2012!

As a child, I was an avid cyclist. It gave me my first taste of freedom, ignoring my Mum’s strict orders to ride no further than the end of the street.

Then, aged 17, I learnt to drive. And my Mum decided it was time to take my dusty bike to the local car boot sale.

Now I oozed independence. Why would I need a slow bike, when I’ve got my sleek, Y reg Nissan Micra, that zooms up to speeds of 60 mph?

Unfortunately, having a car meant I became lazy. I drove embarrassing distances that were far too walk-able…and I forgot that exercise can be fun.

Eventually I left to go on a backpacking adventure and my mum took my Nissan Micra to the scrap yard.

I spent the next few years with neither bike nor car. Until this year, when I was reminded of the wonders of cycling.

During a visit to New York in the summer, staring down in awe at Central Park from the top of the Rockerfeller Centre, I decided it all looked too enormous to tackle on foot.

So why not cycle? And cycle I did, the child-like exhilaration of my first solo bike ride coming flooding back.

With the warm breeze in my hair, I rode past sky scrappers, contrasting so fabulously with the city’s green spaces. I cycled past horse and carriages, baseball games, pretty lakes scattered with rowing boats, and performers singing acoustic sets to picnickers. It was the highlight of my holiday.

On the same trip was a magical three-hour cycle to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, beginning with a climb across hills that hugged the shoreline, Alcatraz in the distance. Just as I’d read in the guide books, the bridge was surrounded by rolling fog, reminiscent of dry ice – cool coastal temperatures and a wild sea breeze all adding to the sense of adventure as I cycled across the iconic russet-red structure.

Steph (centre) sets off on two wheels for the Golden Gate Bridge
Mission accomplished!

During that US holiday, I made a promise to myself to always incorporate cycling into my life – whether home or away.

Now back at home in London, I plunged in and hired a ‘Boris Bike’ to explore Hyde Park. OK, it might have been the heaviest bike in the world, and I might have had to ask a Spanish tourist to help me type in the code to access it…but gosh it was fun.

And so, I’ve decided to buy my own bike. Actually, my Mum still owes me one – technically. Perhaps there will be a cycle-shaped parcel under the tree on Christmas Day. Here’s hoping…

Stephanie Reed.

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