First Step…
is unlikely that you would sit down with me for two minutes without me launching
a spirited conversation on the joys and benefits of riding a bicycle. Why is it
that less than 1% of workers own a bicycle? Why is it that many have never
contemplated riding a bicycle to foster good health, to guarantee their
physical fitness or even for personal transportation from home to work. Did I
hear you say, “God forbid!” on the last suggestion of using a bicycle for personal
transportation. Lol!
actually taking the first step of owning a bicycle and actually riding it, the
countless joys, benefits and opportunities associated with cycling would elude
you completely. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to take up a life-changing
interest. So, go get a bicycle, get on the bicycle, ride the bicycle and we
would take it from there.
are the good points I need to address, as I can sense some concerns. Firstly,
it is not too late. Anyone can learn to ride a bicycle, at any age, at any
weight, and at any status. As long as you can see and have two legs, you can
ride. Your bones might hurt initially and you may fall down a couple of times
(wahala), but all you need to do is get up and continue. I remember once,
somewhere in Lagos, while riding my bicycle and minding my own business that a
small white hairy dog chased me aggressively for no reason. In my bid to
increase my speed and zoom away, I panicked and fell down. I was so angry that
I quickly got up and started chasing the dog. I was determined to bite the
miserable dog and make newspaper headlines. The dog, on seeing my red eye, took
off in the opposite direction. Luckily for the dog, I calmed down and continued
to ride my bicycle. No shaking.
can you afford it? Yes. There are all kinds of bicycles available at different
prices. From N25,000.00 to N1.5 million (Yepa!), you can pick up a good
bicycle that would take you from here to there and make you shed the kilos. No
need for parking space, you can keep the bicycle in one of your rooms or hang
it on the wall. No real storage is space required. Compared to buying a car, or
buying a mobile phone, buying a bicycle is chicken feed. You could go high end
when your confidence and cash flow improves. You can even, for a start, buy a
good (emphasis on “good”) second-hand bicycle for less than N25,000.00. The
cost of ownership is no excuse here. Also, the maintenance cost is
insignificant. Bicycles are solid assets. They sometimes outlive the owners. I
have an Italian bicycle which I got in 2002, a beautiful Bianchi bicycle. It is
still with me and in top condition. I take care of it myself: washing it,
lubricating the chains, pumping the tyres, etc. The bicycle is still serving me
well. In the intervening period, I have bought countless phones, computers,
clothes (you get the drift) that have all gone with the wind. I say again, the
bicycle is a long lasting asset.


is riding a bicycle safe? Is driving your car safe? Is riding an Okada or
sitting in a bus safe? Is going by air safe? Is walking on the road safe? Is
taking the elevator safe? Do I continue? Safety, like my wife would say, is in
the eye of the beholder. Even cooking in the kitchen or taking a bath is unsafe
if handled irresponsibly or without proper care, instruction or learning. You
can’t just buy a bicycle and hit the road without proper skills and coaching.
You should first of all hone your skills in a safe environment before taking on
the roads. Indeed, properly trained riders have toured continents, (yes,
continents) with little or no incidents. I have ridden my bicycle from Ikoyi to
Epe Town and back to the Lekki area, covering a distance of 100 kilometres in
slightly over 4 hours with no incident. The issue of safety is also no excuse
here. Riding with experienced riders and joining a cycling club would also help
to make you a master of the roads in a short time.
would boost your energy levels, make you lose weight (or prevent you from
putting on weight) and enhance your metabolic rate. Cycling would not stress
your joints like running and walking. Cycling is associated with freedom,
relaxation and longevity. Cycling would take you far away from leading the
sedentary lifestyle of a couch potato. As a self-proclaimed cycling ambassador,
I could go on and on. I would stop here. I have more to write on cycling in the
weeks to come.
what was my first step towards cultivating the bicycle culture? I remember how
I soooo wanted a bicycle. I could not afford it then. (Ah, (emi omo
baba olowo). What did I do? I did what I could. I could afford a helmet! I went
ahead and bought the helmet. A few people thought it funny. Some laughed behind
my back and in front of me. Guess what, from that first step of buying a
helmet, I subsequently got my bicycle and have bought and given out lots of
bicycles since then. I have convinced many to take up cycling. I have ridden my
bicycles with professional cyclists and top executives. I have covered
thousands and thousands of kilometres. I have experienced freedom and joy while
cycling. I am a Board Member of the Cycling Federation of Nigeria. All of this
from that very first and significant step of buying a helmet. Who is laughing
now? Failing to take that important first step in any endeavour is actually
what fails us. Think about that.
on, take the first step, and get a bicycle. The world is for riding.
By Bili Odum



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