Transport here is really expensive and I thought a good way to move around would be cycling. Even if it does look a little scary because the traffic in London isn’t ideal. But I tried it and took it easy, got a bike to commute to work even though I’m not great with directions, so I was always getting lost. Sometimes, even on my way to work or back home, I ended up discovering places in London that I would have otherwise missed. I would find some amazing little gems and think, ‘If someone comes to visit me in London we’re coming here.’ I wouldn’t have discovered these places if I’d been on public transport. I loved it so much that even though my company’s client were actually London Underground, and I didn’t have to pay for transport, I still chose to cycle. I loved getting lost.
“In the evenings, London is a completely different place. It opens your eyes.”
Some people take the tube from point A to point B. When you’re on your bike you see everything. Commuting and getting lost was my London experience. If I was meeting friends I would get on my bike and discover the city. Then in the mornings you notice this amazing difference in the city to how it is in the evening. It’s a completely different place. Take for example Albert Bridge, in the morning it’s beautiful but when you see it at night it’s something else. I love it. My commute everyday is like a bespoke tour of London. I have a time lapse film of my commute from home to work, I get to see Battersea Park, Battersea Powerstation, Chelsea Bridge, Albert Bridge, Westminster, Trafalgar Square.
It took a while to get my confidence up. The more time you spend on your bike in London the more you get it. I remember one of the girls at work used to commute from a similar area to me near Clapham Junction to Victoria, so I asked how she did it, and which route she took. She said just come along one morning, I could follow her, and from then on I knew the route. It’s that first step to finding your confidence on the bike. It’s basic things, like I didn’t know how to point when making a turn. I remember going out on a Sunday when it was less busy and getting used to riding on the other side of the road . When you see other people doing it you think ‘if they can do it, I can do it as well’. I remember how stressful it was the first time I rode to work but once I got to work I couldn’t imagine another way I’d rather get in. From now on, that’s the best thing.
“I couldn’t imagine any other way I’d rather travel to work.”
Joining a cycling community is all about shared passions. Sharing experiences with people. It changes your view of a city, and in my case, actually converted me to loving City life so much, I just couldn’t leave. I love being part of my community of ladies. It wasn’t just being on the bike, it was the social side and building bonds with people. I think it was the first step from cycling by myself to sharing the sport with others that changed everything. After that I kept doing park runs with colleagues, and meeting them to cycle. I was so in love with my bike I stopped playing football, which had been my main sport, because I wanted to dedicate myself to cycling.
“Cycling lets you see so many different places.”
Playing football you have a strong feeling of being part of a team, you build strong relationships. I never thought that cycling could give you that and even more. But with cycling I found that everyone can discover a new place by taking different routes. You’re cycling with different people because not everyone is available at the same time. You get to know different people in so many different ways. To be honest it opens your eyes. I have everything I want from cycling, the sporty side, the social side, and I’m discovering the country more than most English people I’ve met. People who have lived here their whole lives ask me where I went on the weekend and it’s so often places they’ve never been to. Cycling lets you see so many different places, it’s amazing, and it lets you feel truly part of a place rather than just a sightseer.
I couldn’t imagine leaving London behind now. Why be a country girl, when you really can have it all in the big smoke? You’re minutes away from getting out of London and into the hills. Cycling has been the key to my life coming together, I couldn’t imagine life without it.