Back in the Saddle

Craig getting back in the saddle

Craig getting back in the saddle

As a youngster I was never off my bike, whether I was commuting to school, heading to scouts or going off on country side adventures with my mates during the holidays, the bike was my mode of transport and my passport to a social life.

I moved away from Hawick at the age of 17 for college in Edinburgh and sadly my bike didn’t come with me. It was forgotten about and left to rust in my parents’ shed, eventually my Dad donated it to a charity shop and cycling became something I used to do.

A few years ago I was gifted a friend’s old bike and I decided to get back in the saddle once more! At first I was reluctant to ride on anything that constituted a busy road, I’d stick to cycle paths and push the bike along the pavement if there was no alternative. Riding in city traffic terrified me.

I couldn’t believe that 15 years prior to this I wouldn’t think twice about cycling down the A7 with lorries and cars overtaking me. As time went by and I used my bike more I found my confidence on two wheels began to grow.

What really helped me was setting a few rules for myself, such as making sure I am visible; bright clothing, hi-vis back pack cover, putting lights on – not just at night, but whenever I felt it may help other road users see me.

I plan my routes to avoid the big busy thoroughfares and junctions in town and where possible I’ll follow cycle paths and cycle-friendly roads even if this adds a little time to my journey. I also read up on the cyclists’ section of the Highway Code to find out what is expected of me and how to be a better two wheeled road user.

My bike is an integral part of my life again with regular commuting to work and longer afternoon trips on my days off. I now feel I have come full circle.

Craig Neilson


We regularly run Essential Cycling Skills workshops to help people like Craig build up their confidence and get back in the saddle. If you’re interested in attending a workshop, please email

We also run a free bike repair workshop every Tuesday and Thursday 5-8pm at the Shrub. Come along to get expert help in fixing your own bike and build that confidence even higher!