It's been abundantly clear to people who know as much as those who don't particularly that I'm now pretty hooked on cycling. I cycle to work, I cycle to appointments, I cycle after work, and as this post goes live, I'm cycling from London to Cambridge- for fun. But what I hadn't clocked, until this week, was that cycling has become more than exercise, or that thing I to do keep in decent health and fitness or save money, it's a part of my lifestyle, just like opening a bottle of red wine Friday nights and binge-watching Spooks or Grey's Anatomy or my
When I was chatting with some *proper* fitness/health bloggers at an event (more on that next week, be patient) and I was explaining why I was there, because I like to cycle, mostly as a commuter, I also had to admit, I couldn't remember the last time I took a train to work. Taking the train to work is quite normal for a good many people, for me it's an imposition, an inconvenience and I hate it. I get to work sleepy, I have to get up earlier, I have to repack my handbag and not forget anything important. It's not routine, and it costs me money, and I hate it. Most importantly, it makes me angry and did I mention, I really hate it.
When I get to Sunday evening, and I think about the working week ahead, I think about making sure I have enough space in my rucksack to take 2 dresses, several pairs of tights, a selection of snacks, a week's portions of oats and yoghurt for breakfast and a clean towel as well as my keys, phones and ID cards. When I book an appointment or look up a route, my thought process usually starts- is it on a cycle route, will there be a secure place to leave my bike? And when I see the weather is changeable, my first thought is usually which type of jersey is going to be best or whether my winter weight leggings are in the wash or not.
One of the many joys of this lifestyle choice is that on a very personal level, it's helped me to overcome a good many insecurities I've been carrying around. It comes with one or two of it's own, but the ones I've lost far outweigh any that have popped up in their place. I should clarify and say that I'm not professing a miracle cure to mental health problems or suggesting a 'one size fits all' type solution to the worlds problems, but me, Chloe, 24 years old right here right now, I don't care what I weigh any more. The scales have ceased to matter. I have a better relationship with every one of the the food groups than I have ever done- I love them all, and continue to seek to include them all in a balanced fashion. I feel that I can achieve things and that I am a worthwhile human being with something to contribute because I am a happier and healthier and fitter and stronger human being for getting on my bike.
I still have bad days, and sometimes I could happily pitch my bike of a super convenient rail bridge en route home because there's a relentless head wind, and I've been known to call red lights bad names. I am not a perfect person, I'm not an especially good cyclist, and it still scares me that at 24 I'm fitter than I've ever been and still quite unfit. But however bad the day is, whatever else is happening in the background, there hasn't been an occasion yet where I haven't been able to take a step back, find a solution to the problem, and get back on my bike the following day or week.
Lifestyle is often an important buzz word, people talk about having a better one, about the balance of work and life being the deciding factor, about families and jobs and careers and fitting them all in. But maybe the best lifestyles are the ones that we create without intending to overhaul everything. Maybe one small change all of the difference you need.