Cycling transformed my wellbeing
I was inspired to start cycling again as an adult to get around town. Finding public transport unpleasant and walking too slow, I got a hand-me-down 20-year old Raleigh Pioneer. I taught myself how to look after it, found quiet routes around London and transformed my experience of living in London, my wellbeing, and my daily happiness.
I love the sense of freedom, the physical and mental benefits of cycling. The first few pedal strokes on my bike every morning are one of the highlights of my day. Travelling by bike gives you a different perspective on the world. You get a lot further than on foot and are more connected to your surroundings than in a car. I cycle-toured with a friend from London to Barcelona – we experienced the people, places and scenery in a way that can’t be matched.
Whilst commuting - the antagonism between road users. Walkers, bike riders, cars, lorries and busses can co-exist happily if we are all a little less selfish and a little more accepting of others. I always try to be courteous and polite - people are often surprised to see someone being friendly and kind to them!
The first major event I took part in was the Campagnolo Gran Fondo in the Italian Dolomites. Halfway through was a mountain pass called the Passo Manghen - a very long and steep climb. I’d never experienced anything like it before – incredible views matched with tortuous pain. I’ve become addicted
The two hills of any significance slowed (and tired) me a little but passing vehicles were no issue and the trickiest bit was a double-laned roundabout which was fine and in any case it was serviced by a footbridge a few feet away. So half an hour after departing on Monday morning the first journey was complete with no issues whatsoever. Now I was a cycling commuter!
For me, the best thing about cycling is the fact that my mind seems more active during the journey – including noticing things that sometimes are missed on car journeys. I felt more invigorated arriving at work after cycling than driving.
The most challenging things for me when cycling are extreme cold and potholes! That said these can be avoided through getting the right cycling gear and judicious route selection respectively.
There are a few physical differences I've noticed since cycling. The main one being tight hip flexors that have *ucked up my posture - I should have stretched more, so my fault really. And I have developed the ability to safely flick a double handed bird to bad drivers whilst cycling in heavy traffic
A little bit of advice:
Just get on a bike and see where it takes you, literally and metaphorically. You don’t need loads of kit or expensive bikes. Ride safe, have adventures and make it a positive part of your life.
What I ride:
Felt F3 road bike for racing
Customised Surly Steamroller fixie for commuting
A cruiser bike I hand-built for riding around with the kids
Anything else I get the chance to ride!