I am feeling very proud of myself this week as I have finally taken the plunge and started cycling to work. I think it’s about a 12 mile round trip. As I was very nervous I had a little practice run at the weekend. Luckily my boyfriend was happy to come with me and show me the route (he’s very nice like that). I am a bit rubbish at remembering routes and the only way I seem to learn how to get somewhere is to do it. I’d really built myself up to it and in my head it was going to be an epic trek but in reality it was fine and I got there and back without feeling too knackered. Yay!
My first day of cycling started ominously with heavy rain. I was determined not to wimp out so I dug out my all waterproof (which hasn’t seen the light of day for about 5 years) and got on my bike. Luckily for me I was leaving at the same time as my boyfriend (who works in the same place) so not only was I able to follow him to avoid getting lost but he also carried my stuff for me. I thought that the rain would be awful but actually it wasn’t too bad, knowing that I had a dry change of clothes and shoes took all the stress away.
On the way back I was on my own and I was very nervous. Could I take on the central London traffic? It turned out that I could! Well……sort of…. I walked across a good few frightening crossings, was a bit over cautious and went a bit slowly but the important thing is that I made it!
My second day was slightly more challenging. I needed to cycle there and back (and not get lost!) on my own. I also needed to take a pannier as my boyfriend wasn’t around to carrying it for me. Despite my worries the rain held off and I only got a little bit lost. My main concern about the panniers was that it would make it difficult to cycle but I was surprised to find that the biggest problem was worrying about the pannier getting nicked when I was at the lights!
I am far from being a proper cyclist commuter but I am learning. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
- Cycling in glasses is a bad idea. As soon as it rains I can’t see. Contact lenses are the only option.
- Taxis and motorbikes are very keen to kill you so they have more space in the bus lane.
- If in doubt follow someone in lots of cycling gear they tend to know what they are doing.
- You can’t have enough locks.
- It is possible to cycle with a satchel handbag.
- Cycle lanes are only put on very quiet roads and never on busy ones where they would actually be useful.
- Pretending you are a car and hogging the whole lane at a junction (when cars won’t let you to the cycle bit at the front) means that you feel much safer
- There is no shame in walking your bike across a massive scary junction. Even the pro cyclists do it sometimes.
- Cycling makes you extra hungry.