In the not too distant past, I was stood behind the desk at Bedgebury, hiring out bikes to the public. In my mind, the bike shop was too tame. I wanted it to be an extreme place, showcasing high end products, the latest bike film playing on a screen, getting riders amped to hit the trails. Reality was quite different.
What stood out as especially irritating at the time, was the majority of our clients were the casual family, requesting the hire of ‘cycles’ (aren’t they called bikes?!). The mum clearly was running the show, the long-suffering husband there to herd the kids into the tag-alongs and pay up when required. I would watch them ride off into the distance with their awkward postures, imagining them doing some side-on slow-mo backflip to a grunge tune in a New World Disorder segment. Ha.
Fast forward a few years to a week ago. Fresh from a trip to Centre Parcs, my wife and I had discovered a new recreation to enjoy as a family with our young daughter: cycling. We could both get some exercise, the little one was quiet. Magic. With a young one, getting out of 4 walls had become scarce, the fact that it was on a bike was a huge bonus!
And suddenly, the whole Bedgebury concept made sense. And on a bright sunny afternoon, we found ourselves there, soaking up the lovely Kentish views from the saddle. Even I was enjoying the family trail, and seeing them all have a good time.
Whilst riding round, I was already scheming how when the daughter got a bit older, I could leave her with mum to do the play trail, whilst I got in some single track action. Amazing. And then we could regroup for a cake stop. Even better.
It seems the penny has dropped. I am now really grateful to get out on the bike, by whatever means, and places like Bedgebury help make that more possible. Salute! I just wonder what the guy behind the till is thinking…