On my bike (or not)…


The observant amongst you may have noticed (if you haven’t already heard more directly) that I’m doing a charity cycle ride in Kenya in November. The last two weeks of almost incessant rain haven’t done much for the training regime, so the re-appearance of the sun this weekend provided an opportunity to hit the road again, so we (self and intrepid partner) set off yesterday morning to one of our favourite training areas, Draycote Water, near Dunchurch. It’s a reservoir with a five mile tarmac perimeter ‘road’ (mostly about the width of a single track), so its generally a good place to train without getting mown down by traffic. Generally.

Anyhow, yesterday was not that great; there was a strong head/side wind most of the way round and after 10 miles and forty minutes, though we could have done more, we’d actually had enough, so we gave it up on the basis we would do a longer ride today. Arriving at Draycote (again) at about 9.30 this morning, we found there were quite a lot of walkers and cyclists already milling around – a bit of a shock, its usually pretty quiet when we go, but I guess the good weather had a lot to do with it. But the conditions were better, so off we set, occasionally weaving through groups of walkers and families on bikes who happily milled across the full width of the path. About four and a half miles round, I found myself on one of the narrow access roads facing an approaching small car and elderly driver. I mentally paused for a bit, thinking am I going to get through or should I stop? But I figured there was room if the car pulled over a bit and I stuck fairly close to the kerb. Well I certainly got close to the kerb. The car did not pull over, the wrong instinct kicked in and, instead of breaking whilst unclipping my left foot from the pedal to come to a safe halt, I caught the kerbstone and flew off the bike onto the grass (fortunately) verge! As I picked myself up I looked back to see the driver pause long enough to see that I was on my feet before moving off again – nearly mowing down a couple of walkers in the process! Thanks, mate.

So, what’s this got to do with education? Probably not a lot really, I just wanted to tell you what a crappy day I’ve had! But that’s not really true either. Getting back on a bike after thirty odd years has been a slightly humbling LEARNING experience. Its kind of funny being a bit of a novice at something again (I think I’ve reached a stage in life where I usually avoid things I know I’m not going to be much good at!) True, you never quite forget how to ride a bike, but anything beyond the basics still requires quite a (re-)learning curve – in some ways almost more so because you still have the sense of what you could do then. So its actually a bit of a shock to discover what you can’t do now (yet) – like getting your water bottle on the move without falling off or veering into the nearest hedge/car/other cyclist. Without getting too Rumsfeldian about it, there’s definitely a process of discovering what you don’t know you don’t know about your own abilities – both positive and negative! And that’s surely what a lot of learning has to be about. I think I’m going to be nicer to my first years come September; after all there’s an awful lot they don’t know they don’t know – yet.

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