Ahh yes! One of (according to Hollywood, along with shooting someone holding a gun sideways in each hand and driving a car off a pier onto a boat) the most exhilarating things a human can do.
Yes, all you have to do is find a bike that works and, three hours and a thousand cuts by discarded Tetanus-riddled garden tools and bits of wood barring your way into the shed later, you stand triumphant in front of a two-wheeled monster from the planet DeathTrap.
But never mind that – it has a basket on the front and – joy upon joy – a bell! There is nothing as childishly delightful as a bell on a bicycle. Ok, the bell is so rusty it doesn’t so much ring as make a noise like Stephen Hawking clearing his throat, but excitement ensues nonetheless.
Now, in an ideal world (which you, as a flancer, obviously sacrificed long ago) bicycle rides are taken on sunny days in the countryside wearing a skirt, floral blouse and straw wide-brimmed hat. With working brakes.*
In reality, one must make-do. If you are a British reader, it is 98.7% likely it will be pissing down when you finally disentangle your bike from an ancient Flymo and two hundred meters of fairy lights, but – being British – you will still go for a bicycle ride anyway because as we know, two World Wars weren’t won by staying in when it rained to sack things off and eat toast.
Contrary to the Sepia-flavoured indulgences of cinematic idealists, riding a bike in a skirt is actually strewn with pitfalls – one of which is getting the hem caught in the cogs and being dragged under the wheels like a near-sighted Victorian urchin into the jaws of a thrashing textile loom. A short skirt is arguably more practical, but you do tend to end up with a queue of cars crawling along behind you and pedestrians coming towards you horrifiedly covering the innocent eyes of their children/dog/elderly relative in a wheelchair from the unholy view of your gusset.**
Riding down a hill with your legs out at angles is also a bit of a risk, despite this being the universal image of carefree joy in modern Britain***. I tried it, but was unaware in my cloud of carefree joy how close I was to the pavement, and consequently punted the shopping bag of a middle-aged woman so hard it took leave of her grasp and smashed a car windscreen. For this reason readers, always check your high gears work so that you may increase your speed if suddenly necessary.
One final point – have you ever tried to cycle through countryside? It’s shit and you’ll end up having to weave around cowpats, burnt-out cars and ditches checking to see if your fillings haven’t been shaken loose every twenty meters
Thus, the flancer alternative? A waterproof cape down to the shops riding on the pavement, feet in – ignoring that old person you ran into a bush – to buy a bottle of wine.
Which you then realise you have to drink standing outside the corner shop because some kind of rodent chewed a hole in your front basket.