Lucy Mangan: Back in the saddle

There is just a smidgen, a fraction, a hint, a shadow, a scintilla, a ghost of a whisper of a chance that I have found an enjoyable form of exercise. I can see some of you preparing to nudge-nudge and wink-wink, so let me quickly clarify. It's bicycling. Or cycling. Or biking. I'm as shaky on the proper verb for the activity as I am on the machine itself.

I haven't ridden a bike for 20 years, since my father unwisely let go of my BMX saddle (secondhand bike from the boy next door after a growth spurt that left him looking like linguini) on a downhill stretch; an unplanned experiment in kinetic energy which ended only when my face spread itself all over a parked Ford Fiesta.

But they say you never forget. Of course they, as so often in life, are entirely wrong. I have fallen off my shiny Saracen number several hundred times in the past two weeks, but I can now journey safely along the wide pavements between my house and the park. I can go along the narrow ones too, but freeze in fear when large vehicles go past.

I also have to stop if I want to change direction, because I still have a turning circle bigger than the borough. And yes, I am fully aware that I am an idiot, a sore trial to local pedestrians (though greatly entertaining to local children, if the pointing and laughing are any indication) and need to become roadworthy as soon as possible. But I am equally aware that if I rush things, I will undoubtedly become the cause of a record-breaking multiple pile-up that will paralyse the south-east for weeks.

So why is this the best exercise I have found so far? Because when you are cycling, you are actually doing something, getting somewhere faster than you would under your own steam (to a non-driver, it seems incredibly speedy and efficient compared to walking or waiting for buses) and you can enjoy the view along the way. I'm even thinking of investing in a saddlebag so I can go and get the papers every morning. As there are no corners between here and the newsagent, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

· Next week: Tim Dowling plays with a Powerball Gyro

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