The Real Problem with My Dad's Legs Was That He Kept His Cycle Clips on All Day. (Sidelines)

Article excerpt

Sometimes, when cycling across Hampstead Heath, I will come across somebody I don't much like the look of, and they will duly intone: "There's no cycling on this part of the heath." "What are bikes for?" my six-year-old asks. "You can't ride them on the heath, you can't ride them on roads because there are too many cars, you can't ride them on the pavement. Why do they actually bother making them?"

One thing you can do with a bike these days is have it stolen. So, if anyone is offered a powder-blue Orbea Magnum bicycle with a novelty cheeseburger bell, they should make sure it's not the one knocked off from the aforementioned six-year-old a fortnight ago. The bike has been replaced, and I have ordered one of Ken Livingstone's free cycle guides to London. But, meanwhile, my sons have developed the notion of a fantasy cycle track. It is 23 miles long (where they got that figure from, I don't know); it leads from north London to a small railway station, so that they can come back by train, and it is downhill all the way.

I don't want to seem overly nostalgic, but what they are describing is essentially my childhood. …