I logged into Twitter this morning and learned that it’s National #CycleToWorkDay. Well I’m a big advocate of this – from choosing to cycle rather than purchase a bus pass at university, to braving the roads of Birmingham on my old mountain bike, to trying out running for a while in between (which was ok, but not quite the same!) – until finally I have a good bicycle, and cycle between 10 and 50 miles per week for work. Phew! Here are some of the reasons I do this.
Cheap and Cheerful
Since my jobs are a fair commute already, cycling to the train station (about 6 miles) and then enjoying the luxury of First Great Western’s wifi is first of all a bit cheaper than it would be to drive (in my Morris Minor!) every day and secondly it’s much more relaxing than facing Worcester’s rush hour. Once per week I go to a destination which is a bit more rural – there’s a further 6 mile cycle at the end of the train journey to get there – but it has become a bit of a weekly(ish!) challenge. So today I actually cycled around 25 miles to and from work. Which is admittedly a bit mad! So here are more reasons…
There are numerous things that I would probably never see if I drove to work.
The first thing that springs to mind was cycling past a little owl, sitting and watching me pass from a telephone wire. I have discovered patches of wild borage, damsons and plums from gazing into the hedgerows. I’ve cycled up some punishing hills to look back down to Worcestershire stretching out towards the horizon, framed by the Malvern Hills and often some sensational cloudy skies. Most of these things I don’t catch on camera, but after a day of sitting on the computer and particularly doing social media as a job, cycling really revives you and keeps you focused on the moment. Which brings me onto my next point…
I also know that I wouldn’t feel the same if I commuted by car.
I do enjoy driving, but I don’t enjoy it much at rush hour! Although you are pretty alert on a bike, it’s a good time to let your mind wander. After a difficult day at work I usually find that the worries of the job are well behind me by the time I’ve taken the train and then cycled back. I’m no good at all at relaxing, but the tiredness of returning from a cycle means that I’ve already unwound from work, in addition to feeling a rush of endorphins and no matter what happened during the day I’m pleased as punch if I cycled back up into the Cotswolds without getting off to walk!
All the gear and no idea.
One of the joys of cycling of course is building up your kit. I’m fairly low maintenance on the whole – I can’t lie, I walk out of the door at 7am without a care in the world for how I look. For years I was riding an old creaky kids mountain bike through the city to work too – but recently I’ve had a bit of an upgrade. Dom made sure that I have something that can tackle longer distances, in the form of a Dawes GalaxyAL touring bike. He loves his Dawes bikes, and I love that he knows what to do with them if they need servicing ;). And of course cycling feels completely different to when I was on a rusty (but trusty!) old cycle.
The kit that I couldn’t do without are basic but excellent – firstly a pair of cycling gloves. Absolutely can’t go down hills in anything but summer without these, plus they’re comfy … And seem to work on smartphone screens if you stop to check directions! Buying these was one of those irritating cases of finding some gloves that fit perfectly, taking them to the counter to ask why they said ‘men’s’ on the packaging and being told that there is no reason at all. Stupid branding. Secondly – and equally these are clearly marketed at women but I don’t see why a bloke couldn’t enjoy them – is my bag from cycle chic which is waterproof and can be clipped straight onto the panier rack or clipped to a strap to be a shoulder bag. A bit of a treat but a great buy!
And finally… A decent seat. Lots of women have said to me that they find cycling uncomfortable and I could barely walk after my first couple of trips on this bike. But it’s inexpensive and easy and an absolute must to buy a squishy sofa saddle!
Cycling is undoubtedly very popular at the moment – and I recommend that you give it a go if you’re thinking about it. Just make sure you always wear a helmet :)..