I make no apologies that at the moment this blog is having it’s fair share of bike related posts because as well as my riding and the Tour hitting town in a little over a week’s time there are literally stacks of art and cultural bike related events happening using the tour as a catalyst – there are 48 events in Leeds over the next week alone. Alongside the headline Yorkshire Festival stuff there are all sorts of other smaller events taking place. This is never going to happen again here so I’m determined to make the most of it.
Tonight I went along to Bike Story by 509Arts which was an outside show featuring bike stories, our bike stories. People have been submitting their memories and stories and these were then brought to life by the three actors into a one hour show of history, nostalgia, memories and humour celebrating how bikes have been intertwined in our lives even if you may now no longer ride one. Most of us can remember learning to ride a bike, those first wobbly moments of freedom with parent or older sibling puffing along beside you encouraging you to keep pedalling while you shouted at them to keep holding on.
This heartfelt moment was of course replayed beautifully but there were many others, from an aid worker borrowing a local kids bike to set a strava king of the mountain time in a war zone, a lonely single man riding around on his tandem after a breakup of his relationship which had initial started after their bikes had been locked to each others, someone who’d lost 16 stone through cycling and wondered if he could ride 100 miles to his girlfriends house, the first British man to complete the Tour de France, bumps and scrapes, a fatality, charging down hills and puffing up them, Christmas presents, Birthday presents, hand me downs were all played out as a revolving patchwork of bikes and memories.
These stories were intertwined with our own which we’d been asked to scribble down and hand in before the show started and I found myself transported back to my early wobbles as one of the older kids in the village had been tasked with getting me riding for ‘Bob a Job Week’ . I feel very fortunate in that as I cycle most days I’m constantly refreshing the memory bank with new stories some of which, like Monday’s ride, link me straight back through time to my younger self.
All that life is was on display tonight, our hopes and dreams, fears and failures, loves and losses but all told with heartfelt whimsy from the saddle and the moral of the bike story – just keep pedalling.