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A Brief History of Cycling by Helen Chambers

We now have three categories in the the Hysteria Writing Competition; Short Stories, Flash Fiction and Poetry. I’d like to share the winning entry in the Hysteria 2014 Flash Fiction Category. It’s called A Brief History of Cycling and is written by Helen Chambers.

I watched the confident children cycling with envious eyes. Later, alone, I scraped my shins on a borrowed bike. Disappointing.

Small ‘stabiliser’ wheels not very stable; too small and high up. Dad jogging behind me, holding the saddle, suddenly not there. Pavement slipping by. Wind flattening my hair, tears stinging my eyes and I’m doing it!




Showing off. One hand off the handlebars. Two hands off. Slow-motion tumbling. Scrapes, cuts, bruised pride. More careful.

Cycling in Suffolk. Others coasting up and sailing down the hills, using gears. Effortless. Pedalling frantically to keep up, heart pounding and throat dry.

Savings squandered. Forest-green bike with gears. Beautiful. I’ll grow into it. Cycling Proficiency at school; seat too high, won’t lower. Wobbling on corners. Scraped through the test.

Old-fashioned basket for Christmas. Wanted modern plastic one like friends. Didn’t hide disappointment.

Cycling everywhere – bike tours after exams. Scraped through exams. Glory and freedom on bike tour! Forest-green bike (with wicker basket) taken on train to University. Iconic. Cycling everywhere. Glory and freedom!

Stolen. Never recovered. Deeply disappointing.

Cheap replacement bike. Plastic basket. Never stolen, though always left unlocked. Disappointing.

Attaching child seats, tag-alongs. Watching my children learn. Success! Glory! Freedom! Wind in their hair, tears in their eyes and mine.

Off-road cycling on new bike. Plastic basket and fifteen gears. (Seeking wicker basket.) Scraped by brambles, stung by nettles. Freedom!

Chasing grown-up children, pedalling frantically to keep up. Throat dry. No scrapes.


Still glorious!


Helen Chambers lives in a riverside village in North East Essex, with her husband and two nearly-grown up children, where she is involved in two writer’s groups. Many artists and creative people live here too, giving her no end of inspiration and writing material! She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Essex, where her 50-second play ‘Revolution’ was recently performed as part of Essex’s Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations. She also teaches in a local primary school, particularly relishing drama and music activities, as well as teaching writing and motivating reading. She enjoys writing short stories, flash fiction and drama (including radio drama); and she was shortlisted in November 2014 for the ‘Big Picture Competition’ (SaveAs Writers).

Website: Helen Chambers

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