There is only one way to wing your way around a city like Seville, especially on those cloudless, sun-soaked days that draw you onto the streets, and that is by bicycle. I am now a convert to this two wheeled, non-motorised mode of transport and generally feel slightly naked if I happen to find myself without it, but initially my cycling love affair got off to a bit of a rocky start.
As a child, if I wasn´t on the back of a pony, I could occasionally be found whizzing down hills in shady country lanes in my green and pleasant motherland, but it wasn´t until university life that I really gave cycling a good go. ´Bernard´ was the name of my first two-wheeled steed, he was a no-nonsense, country bicycle built to get me from A to B, and mostly god bless him he did. Until that is one cold, dark, wintry night when on the way back from the University library to my shared house, Bernard and I rather unceremoniously parted company as the handlebars snapped clean off and I landed face down in the middle of the road. As dear readers you are reading this blog, I clearly survived to tell the tale, but it did leave me less inclined to mount a bicycle and more inclined to turn the keys in the ignition of a mini metro (also called Bernard).
And many years living in London did nothing to alter this aversion to bicycles, in fact quite the contrary, my anti-bike position was strengthened. Hardcore cyclists jostling for position with double decker buses and white van men is frankly madness in my books, no matter how much high visibility attire you might don.
But luckily Seville is a different story. For a start it´s flat and most importantly there is an amazing network of cycle lanes around the city which makes cycling feel relatively safe. In fact cars are not the main danger in Seville, it´s pedestrians who blindly cross cycle lanes while doing something vitally important on their Smart Phones that clearly can´t wait until they´re somewhere else. However on the plus side, being in the south Seville life is filled with beautiful, clear blue days like today, that were created especially for cycling round the city, heading down to Guadalquivir river, meandering across to Triana, just going anywhere you please, all with the winter sun on your back and a light breeze in your your hair. Heaven.
Having said all that, as a very rusty cyclist, getting back in the saddle was a bit precarious at first. It´s true you never forget how to ride a bike, but you do forget how to ride in a straight line, how not to ride in posts, and occasionally other cyclists. My first foray back into the world of bicycles was using the city´s generally good Sevici service. Similar to the systems in Paris, London etc, Sevicis are really handy to pop about the city, as long as there are bikes available that are in working order (be careful to check gears, breaks, chains etc) and room to park your bike on your return. That said, if you´re a tourist it´s great, as you can use the service for your stay (the minimum hire is one week), and you get to feel like a local as you explore the city.
But after a year using Sevici, frustration got the better of me and I upgraded to getting my own bike. Bearing in mind it was over 20 years since I had possessed one of my own, I had no idea how much they cost. Spending over 100 Euros seemed like a reasonable outlay to me, but now I realise that you don´t get that much for your money. If I were to buy a bike again, I´d spend a bit more and go for a more quality ride, as in the end I´ve had to spend the same amount again replacing breaks, gear, seats etc. Thus my bike has been well and truly pimped, and all in the capable hands of the guys at Jose Gomez del Moral Bicicletas on Calle Calatrava. This happens to be the nearest bike repair to my house and is owned by its name sake who is a veteran national cycling champion winning a around Colombia race in 1957, amongst other competitions.
I think they know me and my bike pretty well by now, as I always
seem to be in there in between punctures other bike related ailments,
but they provide an efficient and cost effective service, and never mind
pumping up my tyres for me, when things are looking a bit flat. As well
as bicycle repairs you can also buy a nice brand spanking new bicycle
from them, as well as rent one out (again good if you´ve got people
coming to stay) or just check out all the black and white newspaper clippings from Jose Gomez del Moral´s golden cycling yesteryear.
http://www.bicicletasgomezdelmoral.es/ Calle Calatrava 14, Tel 95 437 89 77