The old saying “it’s as easy as riding a bike” is one of the biggest under-estimations ever heard, especially if you’re riding a bike in London or a similar city with hazards lurking at every corner. You can spot a beginner cyclist from a few tell-tale habits, which are recognisable to me because I’ve done them all. I’ve learnt so much in the years I have been riding my bike, so here are my 10 things I’ve learn from everyday cycling.
There is a certain dress code
I had all sorts of clobber when I first got into cycling. A monumentally-sized helmet and a high vis jacket about 8 sizes too big for me were part of this look. As the years have rolled on and I have moved from a hybrid to a road bike, my kit has become a lot more lycra-based and streamline! I dread to think how many pounds I’ve flittered away on my cycling wardrobe.
The pollen in spring can be blinding
Many a spring I’ve headed out on the bike, happily gliding through the warm air only to suddenly attract every kind of pollen, city dust and small creature into my eyes. Sunglasses are now permanently fixed to my face during the spring/summer season.
Cycling can cause instant friendship
I’ve grown a small network of cycling chums through my two wheels. Cycling has so many unique quirks, and those who ride their bikes regularly get very excited when they crop up in conversation. Only a group of cyclists can talk about their commute as though it were a micro-adventure.
Fails in bike security
Locking your wheel to a lamp post does not mean that your bike will be there when you get back. I’ve learnt all sorts of bike lock tricks to make sure there is no part of my bike that can go awry. Insurance is also not just a good thing to have, it is an essential part of being a cyclist.
Turning right is still utterly terrifying
The approach to a right-hand turn on the middle of a busy road still fills me with dread. Over the years, I have become a lot more confident on the roads and know that hesitation can cause more problems, yet there is still that little part of me that sighs with relief when I make it safely to the other side.
‘Bike to boardroom’ is a look that doesn’t exist
I always wondered when I saw elegant ladies perched daintily on their saddles on the way into work, how on earth they managed to maintain composure. In the days when I worked in the corporate world and had to wear a pencil skirt and heels, a full Clark Kent transformation had to take place in the toilet before I entered the office. I have avoided offices ever since!
I’m an overnight mechanic
I recently had a large spanner confiscated from airport security – I had stuffed it into my hand luggage last minute and forgot to put it in my bike box. The security man looked surprised at the thought of me wielding such a tool until I explained – “I’m a cyclist”.
The spare room is not for guests
When my boyfriend and I moved in together, the spare room instantly became a bike room. Most people would find some kind of sheltered and secure outdoor space for their bikes, but not ours, they get to live indoors with the humans!
The sense of freedom never gets old
Despite the dangers, road-rage, near misses, soaking clothes, bike oil on your new trousers – the sense of freedom that comes with owning a bike never, ever leaves me. As the truer saying goes – “you’re only one bike ride away from a better mood”.