"First of all, a big thanks to the workers at the Hub for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm about bikes, cycling and cycle routes in the Forth Valley area.
I don't think I'd have had the confidence to 'get on my bike' otherwise! I have a car and I'm one of those drivers who used to wonder why anyone would want to cycle on busy roads at rush hour???
But earlier this year when I was trying to figure out how to fit some more physical movement in to my day, I took a notion to cycle to and from work, the whole 11 miles of it! A very random notion as I'd not been on a bike for years.
I started to investigate my options, which is when Caroline at the Hub suggested that I borrow an e-bike from them for a week's trial to see how I got on. Well, I'd never even heard of e-bikes at that point but it seemed like to good an offer to refuse! The day that I picked up the bike, my nerves soon turned to excitement as Susanne explained to me how the e-bike worked, completed the safety check, gave me some advice about the cycling routes I could use to get home from the Hub and then from home to work the next day. The Hub even let me borrow a helmet. I felt well taken care of! That first run from Stirling to Dunblane took me right back to childhood, being on a bike again, trying out the gears, but also with the 21st century spin of normal, cruise and sprint modes to choose from too, magic !
The journey to work the next day felt epic....Dunblane to Alloa, 50 minutes of joy and discovery! It’s pretty much downhill and flat all the way so I didn't make use of that battery (honest!) opting to save it for the return journey. I cycled the main road from Dunblane, picking up the cycle lane through Bridge of Allan and along past the university to Causewayhead, and it was all good. From Causewayhead to the Manor Powis roundabout I felt a bit out of my depth because it’s a tight road with no cycle lane and lots of traffic, but hey, slow and steady won the day and from Manor Powis to Alloa it was back roads all the way. I couldn't believe it! I've lived in the Clackmannanshire area all of my life but discovered there's a beautiful route through fields where cows and sheep graze with views of the River Forth that link Cambus and Alloa. Instead of listening to the radio I was listening to birdsong, the sun and wind on my face, it was like being in an Enid Blyton story! I arrived at work buzzing and earlier than usual. The e-bike caused a lot of excitement at work and quite a few of my colleagues took a wee shot of it too.
The return journey was not quite so epic, it rained, the wind was against me, and of course, it there was lots of uphill! I was so happy to drop gears and opt for sprint mode that shunt up the brae saved my legs and without it I reckon I'd still be trying to get home yet! I took the same route back until Bridge of Allan where I turned right after the Allan Water Cafe to follow the river to Blairforkie Drive, and then cycled up the Glen Road which is the old back road to Dunblane. It’s a traffic free zone and brought me out at the top of Dunblane where the road forks off to Sheriffmuir. I decided that Sheriffmuir could wait for another day! I cycled lots of other shorter journeys with the e-bike and just loved the experience. I think being able to choose whether or not to use the battery took away a lot of my anxiety about whether or not I'd be fit enough to cycle from A to B and because of that I felt more confident about taking the bike out. It seemed to me to be a great way to be able to build fitness without over-doing it but probably more importantly, it was just really good fun!"
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