Thursday, 3 September 2015

Cycle to work (every) day!

Today is Cycle to Work day!

Not that long ago cycling to me was something other people did - reserved for Lycra-clad men wearing odd shoes, and people who liked to hug trees and wear clothes made of hemp. Oh foolish me - how wrong I was!

Inspired by a couple of friends who cycled to work, and fed up of waiting in the Manchester rain for a slower than slow tram, I decided I would give it a go to see what the fuss was about. As well as hopefully cutting commuting time, I thought cycling might also be a good thing to help my running, but mostly I'd seen my pretty Bobbins bike and really wanted her to be mine...

A friend kindly let me borrow her bike for two weeks while she was on holiday to see what I thought and I couldn't believe how easy it was, and how much I liked it. Sure, I was nervous at first but without a car, the freedom it gave me was amazing.

Here are some things I previously thought about cycling to work, which I was totally wrong about.

1)  Riding on the road? So scary. What about all the traffic?
Wrong! I thought all the drivers would hate me and I'd be all slow and in the way. How do I make a right turn? Where do I sit on the road? All these questions and worries were really what was putting me off getting on my bike. Someone told me that Manchester Council ran various cycling sessions for free, including riding on the road so I gave it a go. A nice lady met me at home and after a bit of theory off we went on a route of my choosing. We worked out the best route for my commute to work and then we went and cycled it. She led the way there and then it was my turn on the way back. It's not a long distance but there are a couple of major roads involved so having someone take me through the ways of the road was really good for my confidence. So if you're worried, check out your local council and see what they offer.

2) What a faff! All that changing must take ages in the morning!
Wrong! It's really not a faff at all. Get ready for work. Get on bike. Get to work. DONE.

3) I'd be so sweaty and gross all day.
Wrong! My commute is only 3 miles away so unless I'm running really late for work I'm not sweaty enough to warrant a shower when I arrive. I sometimes take a change of clothes, sometimes not depending on what I'm wearing that day and how easy it is to cycle in. None of my colleagues seem to think I stink, but then maybe they do! Obviously if you live further away and cycle faster than I do then a bit of a spruce up pre-work might be required, but most work places have showers these days and you just need to change your morning routine to incorporate a wash at work rather than at home.

4) It must be so tiring!
Wrong! It's actually a really nice way to wake up first thing, but the best is the cycle home. After a long stressful day cooped up in the office, a nice ride home helps me unwind and forget about the day at work as well as let me be outside in the fresh air. Hooray!

5) Sunshine is fine but I surely I wouldn't cycle in the rain?! No thanks!
Wrong! Granted rain is not my favourite weather to cycle in. But once you've got yourself some sexy waterproof trousers and jacket then you're really fine. And I always think a 15 min ride in the rain is way more appealing than a rainy 10 min schlep to the tram, a 20 min tram ride and then a walk at the other end. Plus I always think about how much quicker I'll get home after work, which helps. Although Manchester, if you could stop raining quite so much I'd appreciate it. The wind on the other hand is a whole other issue. Urgh. Just be sensible and don't cycle in a cyclone.

So there we are! I love my cycle commute now, and it definitely gave me the groundwork and confidence to give my recent triathlon a go. Not only that, cycling to and form work saves me at least £50 a month - that's £600 a year and an hour a day travelling. That's five hours a week all for me!

If you're toying with the idea don't be put off by any thoughts similar to mine above. Give it a go and you'll be surprised how wrong you were! It's quick, free (once you've bought the bike) and it gives you so much freedom.

No more waiting at the tram stop in the wind and rain for me - I'm already at home, de-stressed with a nice warm cuppa.

Cycle commuting!

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