Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Road to Falling in Love with Cycling Again

River Lea (Image - Christine Matthews
I used to cycle a lot when I was younger. Mostly family bike rides along the tow paths and nature reserves of the river Lea and the dirt tracks of Epping forest. Getting a bit older, I used to cycle to friends’ houses all across London and when I got my first proper job, I became a cycle commuter. Well.. For one day... It was hilly, cold, wet, windy, and I fell off and smashed my shoulder up on the way home (my fault). I hated it, never wanted to do it again and learnt to drive instead.

For six years I never looked back. I was dry, warm and relatively safe(r). I moved further away and the 30 minute cycle commute became an impractical to cycle 35 mile drive. Plus, I lasted five years before my first accident. (wasn't my fault)

Then I got a job at Levenes. Now four miles away from work, at first I rejoiced that my hour long commute had been reduced to just 15 minutes on the tube. I’d get home in time to send mocking texts to ex-colleagues that I was home before they'd even finished work. But then I found out we had a Ride2Work scheme with Evans Cycles and being part of the launch of our cycle injury website, I began to think about cycling again. It wouldn't save me much money, it’d take slightly longer to get in, but in the past six years, I'd gotten unfit and lazy. I'd cancel my underused gym membership and get a bike for exercise instead.

My potential routes to the
Wood Green office on our map
After annoying HR with numerous requests for information about it, I still hadn't actually committed. Excuses like, I'll just go to the gym instead, there’s nowhere to get changed at work, there’s nowhere to store it in my flat, I don't want to arrive stinking of sweat for the day, and of course working in a firm that deals with personal injury, you see things that can put you off ever wanting to leave the house.

But then I thought, hold on, this is why we created the accident map on the cycle injury site, not to put cyclists off getting on our roads because there has been x amount of accidents or whatever, but to offer them a tool to make their cycling safer. I checked out my route to work on the map, found a quieter/safer route in and thought, sod it, I'm doing this.

That was six months ago...

Talking to friends, my initial excitement had been dulled by comments like, "you'll only end up breaking your legs" and "you'll just be another tw** in lycra". I remembered my shoulder and I thought, yeah, they're right. Plus, I'd look awful in lycra.

There was always an excuse. But for the past year I've seen colleagues go off and do the LCC Big Ride, amazing charity rides, I've been talking to all of you via the company twitter account, I've read your cycling blogs, your cycling websites and your cycling magazines, I got caught up in the London Cycling Campaign's Mayoral Election campaign amongst others, and began to think like a cyclist again. Then I was part of the Levenes team at the NEC Cycle Show and that was it. I was sold. I wanted to be part of all this again!

I visited my local Evans Cycles shop and after some last minute faffing, I thought sod it, I am doing it this time! The contract is signed I'm now eagerly awaiting my Ride2Work voucher. No going back now! Let's hope I last longer than a day this time!

Chris

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