It all started one morning in November of 2007, when I took my 1989 Peugeot Lady Racer called Petra and cycled her 5 miles to and from work.
“What an inconvenient time to start cycling!” one colleague remarked. I couldn’t really see his point because the brisk wind, fresh cool air and wintery sun worked its magic and had cured me from my 4 o’clock office-desk fatigue in a matter of days.
In the beginning, I would cycle-commute for three, soon four days a week, leaving Petra at home on Fridays so I could go out and get unfit for cycling, so to say. The Fear of cycling in London was more and more dampened by this habit-forming activity and slowly but surely cycling turned into a joy, a love I couldn’t imagine ever living without.
I love to experience the seasons with all my senses; when it rains I think the water splashes on my face to remind me that I’m alive, when the sun is shining I take my sunglasses off, close my eyes for a brief moment and imagine I’m on holiday, when it’s windy I’ll pretend I am a sailboat trying to navigate through the sea.
And I always think of the poor suckers down under-ground missing out on all the wonderful things I get to see everyday and having to smell Bob’s armpit instead! Apart from cycling having a positive impact on your health and fitness, it saves you from the agony a commuter experiences when faced with a tube strike! I felt really sorry for the people this morning trying to get into Kings Cross tube station, as I whooshed past them.
Whenever I had to take public transport I would feel miserable, tired and cranky for most of the day; everyone in the tube, so it seemed, smelled, was sweaty, stood too close or sneezed into the back of my head, not to mention TFL’s less than reliable timetable during rush hour.
The trick is to be prepared and practical; cycling to work I wear exactly what I would wear in my day to day life: skirt, leggings, heeled boots, T-shirt, except I always have a complete change of clothes in the drawers at work (much to the despair of my boss). I sweat quite quickly (yum) so always carry (bio-degradable) baby wipes with me, which come in very handy if I’m meeting friends after work. Other essentials I always have on me are: change of shirt, deodorant, pac-a-mac and of course lights and lock. I’m lucky to have showers at my place of work but even if this was not the case, like in our previous office building, it would never even cross my mind to not cycle to and from work for as long as I can!