Cycling in London & why I love it
I was at a family wedding at the weekend…
You know how it is - a whole heap of folks that you love dearly but only see once in a blue moon. Fortunately, most of them were fussing over my kids and ignoring me.
But then it came, the big question I had been hoping to avoid - and the added benefit of having to answer it in front of an audience of various uncles, aunties and cousins.
“I hear you left your job. What are you doing now?”
“I opened an online store selling bicycle trailers and other accessories...”
That innocent little word, why. I get enough of it with my kids. It’s never used once, because however well one might come up with an answer, you’ll get asked it again.
Because the first question is never the right one.
15 minutes of wishing I had stayed at the bar and not gone back to the main hall had shown me that the real question was less about the Hitchabike business and more about me…
“Why do I ride bikes?”
15 minutes of musing before I was rescued by a conga line, and I had only covered two of my reasons.
Because each answer begs another question: why?
So, here’s why I ride. Well, some of the reasons - buy me another drink and I might come up with more!
It’s good exercise
No one is going to ask why for this one, riding a bike is obviously going to burn a few calories and get your heart pumping a bit faster.
It’s probably cheaper than joining a gym (depending on your self-control when it comes to buying kit!) and I can cover a lot more distance in the same time compared to running. It's definitely cheaper than joining a gym in London!
It’s not as low impact as swimming, but it’s pretty good in that respect and you don’t need to find or pay for a pool. Also, every pool I've been to in London is too small, too full and too expensive.
Ok, maybe you can ask why, and there's three answers for you.
It can help with medical conditions
I’ll be realistic here, cycling isn’t going to cure anything and everything, but there’s a bunch of things it can really help with. It can help control your blood pressure, help you control your weight, build strength and stamina and get your lungs working better after years of smoking.
There’s probably more, but all of the above are issues that our team here at Hitchabike have seen improve the more we ride.
It’s great for mental health
For many, it can be as simple as getting out in the fresh air and seeing some trees that brings an improvement in wellbeing. If riding a bike is making you fitter, then that will probably be helping you feel better brain-wise too!
But personally, if I’ve been letting things mount up and the stress is building, going out for a nice fast ride is a genuine stress-buster. There’s the exhilaration of it all, flying round Hyde Park Corner, hurtling down Highgate Hill or the sense of achievement in beating a personal best time for a ride to Lidl. But often it’s simpler than that - it’s the focus on riding that helps clear my mind of all the stress and worry that has built up.
Top tip - the faster you ride, the more focussed you need to be and the better you feel!
I get to meet (and make) friends
Ok, truth be told, I do most of my riding solo at the moment, that’s what young kids will do to your social life! But social rides were and will be a big part of why I enjoy cycling. Whether you’re meeting up with a mate or going on an organised ride, cycling can be really social.
I've one mate where we don’t even ride together, we just each ride to a halfway point at Clapham Common and then have a coffee or a beer. I’ve made lifelong friends from an informal Sunday morning ride of people who all used the cyclechat.net forum and were local to me. And once I even took the plunge and went on an organised FNRttC ride from London to Brighton - one hell of an acronym that one, let’s just say they ride to the coast on a Friday night, look them up!
It helps the environment
I’ll not lie, I don’t cycle just to be green. But it’s nice to know that, most of the time, the fact I’m riding a bike means I am being greener.
I live in London at the moment, so it makes sense for me to ride a bike instead of driving for a lot of things I have to do, whether it’s popping to the shops or meeting friends.
The more I ride, the more confident I am that I can cover longer distances, transporting bigger and heavier things. I’ve also got less worried about riding in the rain or cold (or both).
Hey - let’s not mess around. We sell things like trailers, child seats, mudguards and luggage racks and covers - so we are always going to tell you that it’s possible!
It saves money
Yeah. OK. I had to buy the bike. I have to spend a bit of money keeping the bike running, like a new chain every now and again, stuff like that. I also have a small problem with buying accessories and gadgets for my bike that I don’t strictly need…
(I could tell you about the free bike I managed to get hold of once, and all the bits I’ve managed to salvage from abandoned bikes, but that’s probably for another blog…)
But each time I use my bike instead of taking the bus, that’s £1.65 saved (at the time of writing!). I can’t work out how much I save on petrol if I’m not driving, it’s probably not much. But I do know I’m saving nearly £10 on parking in one scenario, so after a while, I'm quids in!
I get to do a kind of shopping that I enjoy
Right, I’ve just been going on about saving money. But I did mention my small problem with buying new things for my bike…
I love how riding a bike can change things in my life - like making a trip to the park more fun, getting my kids to the playground quicker and making it easier to get to the parts of town that the tube and bus don’t go.
But I really love how simple alterations and additions can completely change what my bike can do for me.
I can buy a pump with a pressure gauge, get my tyres to the right pressure and go faster. I can attach a trailer and now the kids or a pet can come on a ride with me. I can add luggage racks and now my bike is a commuting workhorse. I can stick a bike computer on and now I’m chasing fitness goals. I can buy a red saddle and now my bike goes faster than anyone else’s. I can even keep on dreaming…
Let’s me enjoy a treat
Or a cake, or a fry up, or even something that is good for me. Or a beer…
Look, I enjoy a calorific treat. I enjoy it whether or not I’ve ridden my bike to get it. But riding my bike to get it means I feel like I’ve earned it, I deserve it, it’s rightfully mine.
I’ve maybe not burned off all the calories in the cake I ate, but I can convince myself I have pretty easily…
But whatever, I do think I enjoy that treat more just for having ridden there, especially if there’s a nice view.
What’s not fun is not having lists that aren’t ten points long - but , just like at the wedding, I’m done for now.
Tell us why you like to ride in the comments below, or head back to our store to find something that will give you another why for riding your bike!