Thursday, November 12

Me and my bike

You've heard me blog about some of the downsides of cycling, but I thought I would just give you non-bikers and reluctant riders a flavour of why I've taken to cycling to work every day, come rain or shine.

1. A time-efficient pursuit. Not only is it quicker than taking the train, it is also far more reliable. I can predict my arrival time at work within a minute or two each way, depending on how energetic I'm feeling that day.

2. Exercise while you travel. No need to spend any extra time in the gym or pool.

3. Saving money. About £5 a day at the last count, in train fares alone. That's without counting the savings on gym membership.

4. Being in touch with things. The weather, the city around me, my body and its daily twinges, my mind. Sometimes it can even be a meditative experience.

Some of the things that my friends and colleagues say to me are:

- isn't it dangerous?

If you take care, stay aware, make yourself visible and your intentions known to other road users and pedestrians you cannot go far wrong, even when you have to contend with bad drivers, careless cyclists and foolhardy pedestrians. It's dangerous in the same way as it's dangerous to step off the kerb without looking if anything is coming. Having no lights, wearing dark clothes, listening to your MP3 player and carrying shopping on your handlebars are all silly things to do and put you in danger. Remember that it's not a race and if you try to squeeze down the side of that bus which is negotiating the left-hand bend in front of you, you are likely to get crushed. Don't do it.

- do you cycle in the rain?

Yes, and it's a bummer if you wear glasses but not impossible. What's more you'll be surprised how rarely it rains at the exact time you need to travel. A good waterproof and windproof jacket is a necessary investment for the winter, if you live in the northern hemisphere.

- I bet it keeps you fit!

I'm fit but haven't lost as much weight as I would have expected (especially since London is quite flat). I think the problem lies in the eating side of things - and you will have seen the cake-related evidence to back this up on the blog!


pixlkitten said...

I have been looking into purchasing a bike for myself. What's a good bike for someone who has not ridden in 20 years?

knit nurse said...

Depends on what you are going to use it for and how often. If you are just using it for running errands, get yourself a nice solid town bike with a basket on the front, but if you want to use it for days out or rides in the country, probably best to get a hybrid of some kind. Don't bother with a mountain bike unless you really are going to ride it on mountains! Having a good comfy saddle is important and make sure you get advice on what size frame you need from someone at the bike shop. There are some very nice 'girly' bikes out there at the moment which are step-throughs and have very pretty frames compared to the usual blokey styles. I can dig out a few and email you some suggestions if you are interested. If you have the budget, spending 300 to 400 dollars would probably get you something reliable and durable.

Rowan said...

Doug used to ride to work when we lived in London, but the moment we had Jacob he stopped; suddenly, every near miss and visions of his newborn son growing up fatherless swam before his eyes :)

Personally, I was really glad - he's a good and safe cyclist, but he had a few scrapes (usually on Blackfriars Bridge), including a pedestrian stepping off the kerb without looking - he hit her, sailed over his handlebars and landed on his keys.

Me, I'll stick to the car and having a fat arse :)

colleen said...

Well done, you, especially not being only a fairweather rider. I've been trying to use my bike to get around more since I finished work and loving it. I prefer to use back streets and cycle paths as far as possible, so I gave up cycling to work when I moved offices from Southwark Bridge to Trafalgar Square because I could not find a route I liked.