Life is too serious at the best of times. So when you get the chance to be a big kid again, do it. It could be a fancy dress party (you don’t even need a party to dress up, I’ve been known to put on my flying squirrel outfit ‘just because’), saying yes to trampolining, competing with kids making sandcastles, throwing off your shoes and running into the waves or even just finding delight in watching a dog chase a ball. My life has become pretty serious recently – I’m expecting my second child any day, I spend a fair amount of time sorting little bits for my mum who’s in a care home, thinking about what meals to cook, making sure friends and family are ok, so the ratio of ‘lifestyle admin’ to ‘fun’ has become less of a ratio and all encompassing. So when Ondrej from Op Scooters suggested I try out one of their push scooters I replied, ‘that would be so fun’ and thought ‘but I don’t have time for things like that.’ When he prompted a second time, I still thought it was fun but who was I kidding, my life is too busy for playing about on scooters. And then it hit me. My life was going to be CONSUMED by the attention of a new baby, an older baby, family life, my cats and survival. If I was going to embrace anything fun, it should be now whilst I still had the chance!
We agreed to meet that week. Ondrej turned up with a van full of scooters. I turned up with a grumpy 20 month old who wanted to be carried. So far, no one was having fun…
We’d agreed that I’d borrow a scooter to test it out over two weeks. It was also important to try out the different scooters too as they all varied slightly – some people liked certain ones because of their weight, whether they folded, even down to the colour. I thought I wasn’t that bothered and they’d all be much of a muchness but I realised I wasn’t keen on the folding one (the others were sturdier and I figured that being pregnant the sturdier the better). I also tried a smaller one that reminded me of a BMX; apparently one woman, a Danish anthropologist and adventurer named Nicolai Bangsgaard, was scooting round the world on one like that. There was also a retro-looking blue and red one and a luminous yellow one. The scooters were similar in style – unlike the modern scooters you see business people, Mums and kids zipping about on, these were more like bikes in their size, choice of handlebars and weight. The foot pad sits quite low to the ground and each scooter has a front and back brake, just like on a bike.
Whilst Ondrej tried to distract HB with picking flowers, I took the scooters for a little spin in Highbury Fields. They’re a lot of fun! After weighing up comfiness of handlebars, brake sensitivity, how my feet felt on the footpad and ease of manoeuvring, I finally decided on the luminous yellow one by Czech Republic brand, Kostka. I preferred the retro-looking one but the yellow was marginally more comfy; it feels a bit like a mountain bike but the front wheel is larger.
Op Scooters offers kick scooters for sale and for hire; I was going to be borrowing one of the options they have for hire. Ondrej was great and encouraged me to find the right scooter for me and what I’d be using it for. As I’m getting a lot slower on my feet being pregnant, I thought it would be fun to use these to get to my PT sessions. They can be used either on roads or on pavements and Ondrej advised using a helmet for maximum safety. Ondrej also gave me postural tips and recommended that every other push or so to swap feet (which is harder than it sounds). Unlike the more zippy modern-scooters I’d tried, I felt safer on these – they feel a bit slower and like you have more control. I imagine them as the scooter version of the Dutch bikes – comfy and heavy and solid.
I only realised how big the scooter was when I brought it back home. Admittedly, because we live above a shop, we have a very narrow hallway that is really only wide enough for a buggy, let along scooter handle bars but I’m a do now and think later kind of person. But my husband wasn’t too impressed… As we live right above a row of shops, it was a little awkward getting out the door, but once onto the side streets, I could whizz off! I had several people stop me during my travels out and about; some who thought I’d been riding a bike, some who told me I was ‘doing great’ for being so brave whilst pregnant (?!) and one distinguished looking gentleman who shouted ‘Tally Ho’ after me (I think he wanted a go). There were also many curious looks but that could have been my terrible technique. And my technique was horrible – I found it a little painful on my hips and back to start with (and I got really achey in one leg), but then remembered Ondrej’s advice to swap the pushing leg every push or so which really helped. I like to think that once I got into the swing of things, I looked pretty cool, but I suspect otherwise.
A couple of times, I scraped the bottom of the scooter on the edge of the pavement or on an uneven paving stone which is unnerving the first time you do it. Going down hills was a lot of fun though and you can gather a fair bit of speed if you’re not careful! I also found it quite easy to ride whilst wearing a rucksack and whilst dangling workout equipment from the handlebars.
The scooter is a lot of fun and definitely shaved minutes, if not halved my journey to PT clients. I also enjoyed scooting about in the nearby parks – it felt somehow more acceptable to ride the scooter on the pavement as you can hop off and walk much more easily than you can on a bike and I also took it at a leisurely pace. I didn’t try it on the roads, mainly because I thought I’d be too slow and also because the risk of injury felt higher (my road-sense is appalling which is why I don’t cycle…)
If you’ve got space to house one of these and are keen on making short journeys or have a park nearby you’d enjoy scooting about it, you’d really enjoy having one of these. They’re a great way to keep fit and get about and feel sturdier and safer than most; they’re a whole body workout, working the arms, back, legs and core. Just be aware that they are heavier and bulkier. I can also imagine hiring them with friends for a day out picnicking – Op Scooters has a variety of scooters which are designed for riding on grass and trails. And you can even get seats for the front for babies to hang out in – I’d love to scooting as a family!
There’s also a lot more to scooters than meets the eye – apparently kick scooters aren’t just for getting around on. You can get off-road scooters, scooters for ‘mushing’, doing tricks on and more.
How much: Either rent from £12 a day (for 24 hours), or adult kick scooters start from £279 to buy.
Website: Op Scooters