It’s hard to find a place greater than London. I’ve tried Munich, I’ve tried Hamburg, heck I’ve even tried Coventry, but none of them are able to match up to that warm fuzzy feeling I get every time I look up in wonder at what London has to offer.
I’ve recently rekindled my love of life on two wheels aka the trusty pedal bike. I’m lucky. I’ve got a beautiful old racing bike that goes like stonk and puts a smile on my face every time I get on it. One of my new year’s resolutions was to cycle more, and I set a goal to cycle twice to work a week. I’ve managed for all but two or three weeks. It meant that my second goal of cycling 40 miles from London to Reading was a bit of a doddle. But I digress.
The reason why my pedal bike and my love of London go together is that I’m seeing the city in a new way. I used to be at the mercy of buses, tubes and TfL in general. Now I can go where I want, when I want. I’ve seen corners of the city that I would never have seen other wise. I’m much more knowledgeable about where things are and importantly, I’m fitter for it.
I’m not about to jump on the London Cycling Campaign or completely give up public transport – after all we do live in Britain where it rains just about every other half hour – but I do want to post some tips for becoming a cyclist in London.
1. Get the look
Helmet and hi-vis should be your best friends. Don’t even question it. No matter how slow you plan on going, safety is always number one. The risk isn’t worth it. Get yourself a decent helmet and some hi-vis gear. It can be quite expensive so head over to Wiggle where you’ll find some bargains.
2. Learn lots
One of the best things about cycling is that you can be completely self sufficient. It’s hard to know where to start with bike servicing, but it’s a real joy to get to know how to change brakes, grease chains and everything in between. Be curious and find out how a bike works. I only learn by doing so I headed to London Bike Kitchen, a great place set up by a brilliant lady called Jenni. For just £10 a year you can sign up as a member and for £10 an hour, use their workshop and all the tools to fix up your bike. You also get free advice and the best builders’ tea. It’s much more rewarding than handing your money over to a shop.
3. Look up
Look up around you and take in the great architecture in London. I’m constantly amazed by the differences I see in the space of 5 miles. Shepherd’s Bush to Richmond is amazing. Cycling has made me see the city in a whole new light.
Don’t believe me? Check it: