I used to do a lot of cycling, winding gently through the fragrant, overgrown East Sussex lanes drinking in the birdsong and stopping for pints of chilled cider in mellow country pubs. It’s a delightful way to get around and much safer these days, with cycle lanes springing up in cities and towns all over Britain. Many schools have created ‘cycle to school’ schemes and there’s SUSTRANS too, our National Cycle Network, pioneers of the UK’s revolutionary ‘Safe Routes’ concept.

I remember the first time I cycled without my stabilisers on. I was six and I’d had my first bike – pale blue and yellow with fat white tyres – for Christmas that year. Dad had spent days pushing me gently along the back alley behind our house in Middlesbrough while I got the hang of how my bike felt and behaved. And I still remember the vivid, sharp thrill I got when I finally sailed slowly down the alley on my own, without stabilisers or dad’s support, bumping and wobbling and giggling with joy. It’s a wonderful feeling every child deserves.

It’s great to see so many generous Chain Reaction Cycles discount codes on board this week in the run up to Christmas. If you’re a bit late off the starting block and your little one is desperate for a bike this Christmas, or you’d like to get cycling yourself in 2012, you’ll love Chain Reaction Cycles. It’s jam packed with bicycles galore, for every age and temperament and terrain, from sturdy bargain bikes to some of the most exclusive and expensive specialist bicycles on the planet. There’s even gift vouchers, cycle clothing, accessories, safety equipment and spares.

Right now we’ve got all this and more on board:

  • spend £1000 and get £100 off until 30th December
  • spend £250 and get £25 off ’til 28th 
  • Get £15 off when you spend £100 or more until 29th 
  • Get a tenner off when you spend £75 until 27th

Everyone else went Inter-Railing. But back in the summer break of 1984, when we were at art college, my friend Ange and I took our bikes to Fort William by train and spent a month cycling the Inner Hebrides. Mine was a clunky, rusty ‘old lady’ bike with Sturmey Archer gears and side panniers. Ange borrowed her dad’s road bike. What a wonderful trip. It was the hottest summer in the islands for donkeys years and we fast became lean and brown, cycling up mountains and around tiny islands on rough roads, with our tents and cooking stuff strapped to our bikes.

The SUSTRANS website is a brilliant first stop for newbie cyclists, packed with useful stuff like cycling FAQs and a comprehensive listing of every safe cycle route in Britain. Here’s a link:  SUSTRANS.

Give your family the gift of cycling this Christmas and you’ll enjoy years of great days out together getting fitter, having adventures, exploring your town, city or nearest green spaces!