7 things no one tells you that you’re going to experience when you become a ‘commuter’ cyclist

Blog post courtesy of Cyclepods Ltd - Cyclepods will be exhibiting at the Modeshift Convention. To book you place click here

#CycleSeptember, the month-long initiative from Love to Ride to encourage more people to cycle to work, has recently drawn to a close. And with more people than ever now deciding to ditch the car in favour of the bike, I thought this would be the ideal time to reflect upon my own experiences of commuting to work by bike – for the benefit, or derision, of all.

I’ve been cycling to work now for the best part of a decade and in the past 5 years have experienced both the inner-London commute, and, more recently, a more rural route to and from the office. The benefits of biking to work are well-known by now and frequently churned out, but I’ve come to realise there are actually some other ‘experiences’ you go through that no one quite tells you about when you make the decision to become a committed commuter cyclist. So, in slightly tongue-in-cheek fashion, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

  1. You get hungry (all the time)
    I know, this is painfully obvious. But there are times, even now, that I find myself sitting at my desk scoffing chocolate digestives at 10am, incredulously shaking my head, and muttering that this whole cycling to work thing is ‘false economy’. Losing weight is not something that’s personally important to me (just as well), but I don’t want to be sitting at the PC eating junk food all day. The fact is, you will get hungry in the morning after a cycle in, so the trick is to be prepared and make sure you have some heathy snacks lined up – like an apple, or raw carrot, for example (he says, reaching over to grab another cookie from the biscuit tin).
  2. You join a secret society
    When I first did a bit of road cycling, just leisurely weekend rides, I soon noticed that when you pass another road cyclist they nod at you, and you, invariably nod back. Aha, you quickly realise this is the ‘cyclist’s nod’ – a knowing gesture that silently says, ‘yeah, we are cool, we are one and the same - enjoying freedom, fresh air and exercise while others are trapped at Bluewater or nursing a hangover in bed. Now, when it’s rush-hour on a damp Monday morning and you pass another cyclist who, like you, is struggling with a heavy backpack on, you know that they are the real deal. You both nod. Maybe they even winked at you, perhaps if you had more time and stopped for a coffee there would even be a secret handshake thrown in there as well. You’re in the club.
  3. You become obsessed with looking for potholes
    I always found riding in central London pretty eventful, but there is such a myriad of hindrances to avoid that potholes are just another obstacle you learn to dodge. However, out in the countryside, potholes are a whole new board game. You get to know all the craters on your daily route, you memorise your own ‘racing line’ to avoid the worst ones, you rank them by size and depth, you even have names for some of them! Out here in rural Kent I find that potholes seem to breed extremely well and are big enough to have you seriously contemplating trading in your road bike for a full-suspension MTB.
  4. You see the hidden joys of the great British countryside
    When not obsessively scanning for potholes, you will occasionally look up to see the glorious wonders that mother nature has to offer. Sure, you can see all this from the seat of a car, but you are moving too quickly to appreciate all the views and you can’t get very close to wildlife in a noisy vehicle. On a bicycle you don’t spook animals nearly as much. I’ve seen Buzzards, Kites, deer and hares, out here in the Kent countryside, and plenty of rats and pigeons in London, not to mention all the road kill. It all counts, right?
  5. You start to experience an insatiable urge to wear Lycra
    When I first really got into cycling I vowed never to wear these ridiculous skin-tight outfits. “I will never become a MAMIL”, I told myself. But in time, as you keep riding the same route to and from work every day, you endeavour to get quicker and quicker (I blame Strava for this!) You reach a point where you have shaved off every possible second you can, until one day you realise the inevitable – you must reduce your wind resistance; you must become more aerodynamic. There is only one thing for it! Yes, that means facing the reality that you will have to start wearing the full spandex cycling kit. But, “I’m not a MAMIL”, I tell myself, I’m too young for that. But as my wife keeps telling me - It is just a matter of time.
  6. You will get cold and wet, very cold and wet.
    Probably all this Lycra I keep wearing. Should really invest in some proper clothing.
  7. It’s addictive!
    Seriously. You’d think that being in the saddle all week would be enough! But come the weekend, when you have the chance to don the Lycra once again and navigate round some potholes on some scenic stretch of country road you’ll find it really hard to resist. And with all that commuter cycling you’ve been doing you’ll feel fitter and faster than ever (yeah, not having the backpack on definitely helps).

    Safe commuting!

Have you enjoyed this article from Cyclepods Ltd? We have the Modeshift Convention taking place on the 1st and 2nd November 2018 in Sheffield City Hall where we have a range of speakers talking about subjects just like this. For more information visit www.modeshift.org.uk/events

Blog post courtesy of Cyclepods Ltd



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