Monday, February 11, 2013

On Yer Bike!

I do have a love hate relationship with exercise. It makes me feel great when I find something I love and get over the initial hump of having to motivate myself, conversely, finding something that suits, fits my schedule and doesn't damage my already battle-scarred joints and limbs can be an absolute bitch. Having done no proper exercise for a while (read: piled on a few pounds) and realising that running isn't working for me, I set about finding something that would.

Meet my new baby:




I am deeply fortunate that I live quite close to my work place- I usually take the DLR directly, and including a walk to the station, the whole trip takes roughly 40-45 mins of a morning. I am also lucky that London has upped it's game when it comes to cycling networks. There are currently Cycling Superhighways which run into the centre of London from various places including Barking. I actually work in the opposite direction, but nevertheless, having a designated cycle route that runs almost all the way to work, and being able to find routes which are cycle-friendly and parts of the overall London Cycle Network was a huge deciding factor in the purchase of my bike. It's 10 years since I last got on one, I really didn't want to be in the Bike v Vehicle smash I've seen enough times before... 

Another concern for me was time. I want exercise that will fit into my life, and cycling to work takes roughly the same time as it would for me to do my usual DLR journey- meaning that I get up at exactly the same time as I would anyway. I leave the house earlier, but that's because I change and put make-up on at work rather than before leaving, so it all evens out. 

The details, for those interested- My bike is a Raleigh Chiltern ladies bicycle. Raleigh is a British brand btw, so hands up for supporting our own economy with a well known classic brand. I bought it second hand via eBay and it cost me £80, and I went to collect it from the very lovely seller. 


Cycling is something that I've come to appreciate as a city thing. I lived in the Lake District for 15 years, and never really saw cycling as feasible- main roads are not designed to be cycle friendly, things are often a lot further apart, the weather is dire, and the landscape (hills...) mean you'd be a sweaty mess before you got anywhere, and if there were to be no shower available, you'd be screwed. It works in London because the distance fits, because I can take it easy enough to just need to wash (cheap face wipes from Lidly- HELLO FRIENDS) before changing, and whilst the cycle network in London isn't perfect, it's pretty damn good. We're getting there. 

As with a lot of new pursuits, I'm sure it would be easy to go crazy on extra's. Specialist clothes... shoes... etc. I chose not to. I cycle in whatever is most comfortable- just at present that's a loose hoody, leggings and plimsols with a 'work-out' (cheapo from Primark...) waterproof over the top. The only things I feel you *really* need to spend on (and folks, this is NON NEGOTIABLE) are a decent helmet that fits you properly, more kudos if you can find one that's high-vis, and lights to attach to the front and back of your bike. I bought both these items from Sports Direct, on sale, for about £22. Ah- and then there's the least fashionable thing I've *ever* bought... all in the name of high vis...



So a bit of a share from me, not an awful lot else to add at this point, except, that if you live in a city give it a go! 

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