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On Your Bike!

Updated: May 22

Or...how to wipe out an entire population and a dog in one easy step.


Last week I did something I hadn't done for over 15 years...I rode a bike. It wouldn't have been my first choice of transport options, but a bike seemed the best way to cover more ground on a trip around Lake Garda.


As I said, I haven't ridden a bike since...probably the mid-1980s, and that was a mountain bike. This one was a city bike, or as I would have called them years ago, a shopping bike. My mum used to have one, and I borrowed it once a week when I took my cycling proficiency at school!


The hotel where I was staying hired bikes, they hired those E-scooters too, but that was just one step too far. My balance isn't great at the best of times...even without alcohol.


I took a quick trip around the hotel car park, avoiding all the beautiful and expensive cars, and then I ventured out into the world. Thankfully, the resort I stayed at had a cycle path, so I didn't have to negotiate traffic and concentrate on my balance.


I think my mean machine may have been involved in some kind of major incident prior to me taking it over. The basket was only attached at the top, so any movement of the handlebars made it wobble, which made me wobble even more. It was also a bit....dented, and come to think about it, the mudguard was an odd shape, and the bell was hanging off too. Well, there was no bell on it by the time I handed it back because it fell off.


Wendy Byard on a bike in Lake Garda


After an hour or so my confidence grew, and I really enjoyed riding along the lakefront, admiring the view; the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I stopped for a bite to eat and a glass of wine...maybe not such a good idea, but hey, I'm on holiday (a working holiday, I should add). In fact, I enjoyed my bike ride so much that I decided to keep my new speed machine for another day. That way, I could go into the town that evening, enjoy a pizza and glide back without having to walk—a genius idea.


The journey to the pizzeria was a breeze, apart from the cobbled bit by the bell tower, which was a bit painful on the backside. I jumped off to go up the hill. I said it was so that I didn't hit any pedestrians, but in reality, I don't think my bike had enough gears....or maybe my legs weren't strong enough.


I had a wonderful evening sitting out under the stars with a glass or two of wine and an incredible pizza baked in a wood oven; it was heavenly.


Then it was time for the journey back...and only then did I realise that the light on my bike didn't work. It must have also been damaged in the previous incident...ooooops. Now, I could push my bike all the way back, or I could throw caution to the wind and take a chance on not getting pulled over by the Carabinieri on the bike track. I chose the latter.


All was going swimmingly, apart from the ride back over the cobbled area. I managed to avoid going over the edge into the lake, avoided people eating their evening meal on the waterfront and the people kissing under a tree. Until.....I joined a stretch of the pathway where I should have dismounted but decided not to... A sharp left-hand bend over a bridge. I started my turn only to be faced with two German tourists and their dog taking up the whole width of the pathway. I missed my gears, wobbled (a lot) and almost hit the low metal edging which was supposed to protect the grass. Almost in slow motion, the couple jumped out of the way dragging the dog into the air; I put my feet down and let go of the bike. Thankfully nobody was injured in the making of this scene; they even laughed and told me I should have peddled harder.


The moral of the story is?


You're never too old to rekindle things you loved doing in the past, have fun, be a kid and laugh. It's the best medicine you can have.


If you'd like to join me in Lake Garda next year for your own journey of fun and discovery during a retreat sign up for the waitlist here.





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