The reluctant cyclist

I have something to confess to you all, and you’re not going to like it. I have become a cyclist, y’know, one of those annoying people who gets in the way when you’re driving around in your car or trying to cross a road.

Now I wasn’t sure about this idea when the physio first floated it during a period when I wasn’t allowed to run earlier in the year. Sure, I had a bike; I’d bought a beautiful Dutch one last summer in one of my various “must get fit” moments, but at that point it was more of a prop than a mode of transport. I, like many others, had been led to believe that cycling in London was a fool’s game, a one-way ticket to premature death, and I had heard enough horror stories from my boyfriend, an avid cyclist, to put me off for life. I also was very unsure about the idea of donning lycra and parading myself around the city, oh the shame! And besides, cycling to work sounded like it would involve a lot of faff and early mornings, which aren’t my forte, you understand.

So I did what any reluctant cyclist would do, I started small: a cycle to and from the swimming pool here and there, a circuit of my local park, a trip to the shops. And while all of this was going along, a revolution of sorts was taking root around me. At work, just about everyone I spoke to had bought a bike and was cycling to and from the office. Many of these people lived much further from work than I did and weren’t necessarily the sort of intimidating fitness freaks that I had (unfairly) assumed all such humans would be. After a while I started to think, maybe I could do this? Maybe I could be one of those people who cycles on the regular: Boris Johnson, Bart Simpson, Bradley Wiggins and me. Cyclists.

So under the guidance of my good friend Kate, one morning in early summer, I finally did it, I cycled to work. And do you know what? It wasn’t half as bad as I expected, in fact, you could say it was a smooth ride. Kate had carefully put together an expert route that avoided main roads and gave us a beautiful view of the river, and I only got shouted at once by a fellow road user (no, friend, I don’t agree that I’m an idiotic bitch, but thanks for the feedback).

Since then, I’ve become somewhat of a cycling aficionado, whizzing around on my wheels at every available opportunity. On average, I’ve been cycling in two or three days a week, and it’s been a great way of adding diversity to my exercise programme and joy to my life (no really). I’ve even signed up to the ride to work scheme and have a shiny new bike that is better tailored towards commuting. Alongside the obvious health benefits of cycling, I’ve noticed a whole other host of positive aspects too:

  • Fresh air: what better way to start the day than with a lung full of clean (relatively speaking) air in your lungs! It’s exhilarating.
  • Muscle mass: all this cycling has paid some long overdue attention to my quads, which are now much stronger. This has greatly improved my running technique. Bonus.
  • Natural caffeine: finally, I arrive at work feeling wide awake and ready to start the day. Similarly, cycling for 40 mins after leaving the office allows me to totally disconnect before I arrive home, making my evenings more relaxing.
  • Eye candy: I have seen so many sunsets! Red ones, orange ones, pink ones, blue ones, and you can’t put a bloody price on that.
  • Nasal care: trust me guys, not having to balance under the armpit of someone who’s neglected their own personal hygiene is a blessing. Ditto for avoiding people with questionable control of their rectums.
  • Smug service: never will a fallen log, a smattering of snow or a signal failure get in the way of you and your destination.
  • Passive aggression: I’ve got so good at amusing myself by thinking up creative insults for the various idiots on the road (but never using them obvs, that would be rude).
  • Life: I haven’t lost mine yet. Turns out, there are loads of Quietways around London, which might take a little longer, but keep you away from those pesky road users who don’t acknowledge the value of your existence.

Such is the intensity of my newfound passion for cycling that I’ve somewhat foolishly signed up to a challenge against my colleagues to see who can clock the most miles in October, which should really take things up a gear (CYCLE PUN ALERT). I’m even going to spend my birthday this year on my two wheels, propelled by the pressure NOT TO LOSE THE CHALLENGE (and most importantly to beat my friend Steve). To anyone pondering taking to the roads on two wheels, I would say give it a go! You might find, like me, that it’s wheelie great (no you stop it). Equally you might hate it, in which case, sorry to have troubled you and on yer bike love.






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