E: Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself and your cycling experience?
L: I am a GP in Colchester and have lived and cycled here for 30 years. I wish I never had to drive a car but with emergencies to go to, 4 children, (now grown up), too much kit to cart about and many dump runs to do I have done my share of driving.
But nowadays I use the bike whenever I can. On longer journeys I try and ‘let the train take the strain’ while I catch up on work, just daydream or nod off as my bike rides along in the guard’s van.
E: You have lived in Colchester a long time, you must know the town well in terms of where to cycle?
L: Yes, when you know your way around you can easily avoid the noisy smelly traffic clogged main roads. I skim along the cycle paths, delighted I am not in a traffic jam where I would be trapped in to both wasting my time and pumping out exhaust fumes.
Only on my bike have I discovered what is packed into our town between its main roads, what makes up the real tissue of the place. Threading our way through the ‘green corridors’ I see into back gardens, across allotments, and find woods and ponds I never dreamt were there.
E: It seems that cycling is a real passion for you?
L; Definitely, in the open air on a bike you are truly a part of your surroundings, not shut away behind metal and glass. The air rushes by but your bike skims along so quietly you can hear the birds singing. You notice so much more of what is around you.
Bicycling is much more sociable than driving somewhere on your own. It is slow enough for you to wave to friends or stop for a chat at the lights. I honestly enjoy being on my bike in all seasons and all weathers provided I can warm up and dry off afterwards.
E: You do a lot of cycling, what sort of bike do you ride?
L: The bike I have now is the best I have ever had and it cost me £80 from local charity ‘Re-cycle’, who send refurbished bikes to Africa. It is a hand built Dawes Lightning with 5 gears, and makes easy work of Balkerne Hill. I am so impressed with the work Re-Cycle do I am going to cycle the length of the River Stour from source to sea asking my friends to donate to Re-cycle if I succeed.
E: As a GP, do you want to say anything about cycling and health?
L: I believe many older people would be fitter and preserve a better sense of balance if they cycled more. When I first came to Colchester, I met knowledgeable Colchester cyclist Peter Arthey , who took us on many Sunday morning rides. He always powered up the hills ahead of us until recently when we managed to overtake him. And he is nearly 90
At the other end of life when you are a child learning to ride a bike is so exciting and brings a wonderful sense of freedom and adventure as well as so many health benefits. I think all children should have the opportunity to cycle.
E: Finally, have you passed your passion for cycling onto your children?
L: My children are now grown up but we cycled a lot when they were younger and they still bike everywhere they can and do not own cars. Our daughter Sophie cycled from Lands End to John O Groats over the Easter of 2012 when a freezing North Easterly wind brought snow and ice. Afterwards she wrote a poem, ‘The Joy of Movement’, which expresses better than I can the exhilaration of being out and about on a bike.
The Joy of Movement
Pedalling away to the rhythm
Of beating heart and chuckling chain.
Stop for a traffic light,
Pant out a cloud of steamy breath,
And we’re off again!
Passing birds singing in the hedgerows
And frosted fields slowly thawing
In the pale sun of the morning.
Overtaking brave joggers,
Their trainers shattering icy puddles.
It feels as though the miles have been transformed to yards,
And mountains into hills,
Every obstacle more do-able than before.
The wheels keep turning and
This is the joy of movement.