Fine Fettle

So, in this week’s exciting new return to normality / superspreader event (delete as appropriate according to your personal attitude to the current state of the ‘if we ignore it maybe it will go away’ pandemic), Sunday saw me travelling up to Edinburgh with Brompton, the fanciest outfit Bigtown’s charity shops could afford, and a bag full of knitted flowers to take part in the Edinburgh Fancy Women Bike Ride.

After 2019’s edition, when we were beyond excited to have 20 women prepared to brave the rain, we weren’t quite sure whether to believe that the 60+ people who had signed up online actually were going to put in an appearance, but after 30 minutes of alternating between panicking that nobody would arrive and panicking that they all would we suddenly had a street full of women on bikes in colourful outfits of all possible descriptions

I’d love to say it was great fun … but the problem with organising these things is that the fun for me only really starts once the ride is over and everyone is safely home. I was at the back, which makes for some terrible photos and makes it hard to get any sense of what the ride itself was like, but from the amount of excited chatting afterwards and the general reluctance of the riders to disperse, I can only assume that everyone had fun.

Back of the ride

Indeed, for the last couple of days my social media feeds seem to have been nothing but women in frocks on bikes, and honestly, I can highly recommend it as an alternative to doom scrolling, people arguing about Brexit as if it were still 2016, and the steady drip of climate catastrophe stories that make up my normal social media diet. For that relief alone, I think we should give the amazing international organizers of this most cheerful of bike protests, a vote of thanks.

The only thing I would quibble with is their suggestion that organisers invite ‘the wife of the mayor’ to come along. Edinburgh doesn’t have a mayor, as far as I know, but it does have a transport convenor and she has a fabulous red electric bike and – it turned out on Sunday – some very snazzy leopard print boots.

Me with co-organiser, Transport convenor, and Alison Johnson MSP

I hope she enjoyed experiencing the streets along with such a crowd, and that it’s given her renewed determination to keep transforming Edinburgh’s streets in a slightly more permanent way than the current trial measures (which we gave some knitted love).*

temporary barrier adorned with knitted flowers

And then, high on post-event relief and chat, including a meal spent catching up with my Edinburgh cousin, I was brought back down to earth by the realisation that, even in a world turned upside down, there are three things which are absolute certainties: death, taxes, and the fact that the last train to Lockerbie will always be cancelled, and it will generally be cancelled five minutes after the penultimate train to Lockerbie has departed. Fortunately there was a replacement laid on, and even more fortunately there was a fantastic customer service woman who took getting the four Lockerbie passengers home on as her personal responsibility. Especially when the train company sent the taxi that was taking us home to the other side of Waverley from where we’d been told to wait and she had to lead us up and down every flight of steps in the station at a brisk clip so we could catch it. This could have been a problem as I had the Brompton to carry and a rather silly pair of shoes on, but fortunately my cousin is a gent, and had stayed to ensure I got some sort of transport home. I don’t know that he was entirely signed up to the prospect of carrying the Brompton for me on a tour of Waverley but he did so without complaint and I am very grateful to him. Perhaps all this dressing up in impractical clothes has its upsides after all …

If you want your fill of fabulousness, go here.

If you want to hear me talking nonsense, here I am.

* Edinburgh council gets a lot of stick from cyclists over the quality of its cycling facilities and the speed of its rollout of programmes, but I can only suggest that those complaining come to Bigtown and have a go at banging their heads against the coonsil’s brick wall along with me before they get too critical.

4 Responses to Fine Fettle

  1. hexeres says:

    Well done, looks like it was fun. I love that picture of you addressing the crowd from the barricades… and the photos by andycaitlin.com you link to, are pretty good, too.

  2. disgruntled says:

    I’m never happier than when doing a spot of rabble rousing…

  3. sorry to have missed it – too busy polishing my veg for the allotment show.

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