Everything you can relate to if you’ve ever cycled in London

I’m all about the bike


When people hear that I cycle in London, I get one of two reactions. Either: “Oh my God, are you insane?” or, “I cycle, don’t you love/hate XYZ…”

From experience, there are ten general topics that come up next in conversation:

Looking uber keen on day one of cycling! (It didn't last long!)

Looking uber keen on day one of cycling! (It didn’t last long!)

Buses

Buses are a good and bad thing when cycling. They can be terrifying; you frequently find yourself running your hand along the side of one as you edge up to the traffic lights trying to get to the front. It’s also a pain when you get stuck behind one in a jam and get a load of fumes in your face, but all these little annoyances make it so much more satisfying when you overtake them.

Boris Bikes

We’re all a bit undecided as to how we feel about these. Yes, they are a brilliant thing, being able to grab a bike if you need to get going, and in terms of reducing congestion and pollution, they’re great. But there are moments when you hate them; mainly when you’re trying to get somewhere quickly and there are tourists who don’t know where they’re going, getting in my your without helmets or proper lights. It’s dangerous, annoying, they wobble in front of you, turn across the traffic and don’t understand the way that it all works. Ok, rant over.

Elephant and Castle 5:45 on a Monday night = death trap

Elephant and Castle 5:45 on a Monday night = death trap

Pedestrians

Pedestrians are a constant cause of concern for anyone on a bike, especially since more people are walking around with headphones in and staring at their phones. You don’t need a bell on your bike, you need a loud hailer. I don’t like shouting at people, but when they are walking in the middle of the cycle lane texting and listening to music I will hit them if they don’t get out the way, and I would almost certainly come off worse.

Weather

Obviously, English weather hates to be predictable, which makes cycling a bit of a gamble. Every cyclist knows that when you wake up, look out the window and see it’s tipping it down it takes quite a lot to drag yourself onto the bike. But then there are days when it is glorious, and the sun is shining and there’s a bit of a breeze and it is about a million times better than being stuck in a tin can underground.

These blue things have literally changed my life

These blue things have literally changed my life

Cycle lanes

These have transformed cyclist’s lives. When I hit Elephant and Castle, I don’t have to worry about cars getting in the way until I get to Temple, there are special cycle traffic lights and the road surface is all new and flat. They aren’t hugely popular with drivers; it can be a little confusing, as one guy found out today when he tried to drive into me as he was turning right, and they take out a whole lane, but if it means more people cycle than drive, then that’s fine by me!

Lycra

Although cycling gear isn’t the most attractive thing in the world it is seriously comfy. Cycling gives you the perfect excuse to wear super stretchy leggings with no shame, to the extent that you probably wear them pretty much all the time. Mind you, the padded shorts do make your bum look really weird, even if they are like sitting on a cloud.

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Scenery

If you’re an avid people watcher, the tube gives you lots of opportunities to look at people, but the people you see on your bike are even funnier. There’s the MAMILS (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) who zoom past you on the flat, the people on their Bromptons in suits, the old lady who rides a bike that looks about a million years old, the drunk guy who stands in the middle of the road shouting and the bloke on the Boris Bike who spat at you.

Saving money

I don’t know how much money I have saved this term, but I’m pretty sure it’s a shed load. I know that to get to college it is between £3-4.50 depending on the route I take, time of day etc., so over a week that mounts up. Every day I take the tube, a single journey costs more than a G&T.

So many instagramable moments!

Fitness

You undoubtedly get fitter from cycling. Sure, it’s not quite as good as going to the gym, but at least you feel less guilty when you don’t go…which is probably all the time.

That Monday morning feeling

It’s Monday morning, it’s cold, you had a busy weekend, and the last thing you want to do is cycle. It’s a good way to start the day though and really helps wake you up. It is also not great if you want to go and have a drink with friends. “I can only have one, because I’m on the bike” is a very commonly used phrase amongst my cycling friends. Mind you, nothing sobers you up like a late night cycle.