A high maintenance girl’s guide to starting a cycle commute!
Since my first day working at Quorum Hub I’ve known we really push the cycling agenda. I remember our commuter centre manager Laura McVittie explaining all the provisions in place to support cyclists. ‘This all looks great’ I said, ‘So, you could probably cycle in yourself couldn’t you..?’ she replied.
Erm… The fact of the matter is I considered myself too high maintenance to cycle – I enjoy a full face of make-up and I usually do my hair – it’s just my way. I don’t travel light – if you’ve ever seen me lugging two big bags of random event props onto the 555 of a morning, you can attest to this.
That being said, with the onset of the Killingworth Road closures and now the metro closures, I figure it’s only fair that I at least give it a go if I’m flogging it to you guys as a means of getting to work.
If I can make it work for me, maybe it could work for you?
I live in Northumberland Park, it’s just over 4 miles so I’ve decided I shouldn’t need to shower, especially if I take it easy.
There are quite a few cycle lanes at the beginning of my journey but I end up on Great Lime Road on the road, this has always put me off in the past but our monthly bike rides with Bike 4 Health have given me a bit more confidence on the road these days.
Day One: Monday 24th July
It’s Raining. Of course it is! I stick my anorak on and pray I don’t have any meetings today where a more formal jacket will be appropriate.
There isn’t much to report: the wind and rain aren’t much fun but knowing I haven’t got far to go, it’s really not so tough.
I arrive at work at 8.05 and a quick change of clothes and blot of my face and I’m sat at my desk for 8.12. I usually get to work for about 8.40, I have a quick ponder if this is a good or bad thing!
10.00: The postman delivers a parcel of lanterns for my wedding that I ordered weeks ago. Bugger! How am I going to get those home?
18.00 I’ve just cycled to my gym in Jesmond. I get a lift home with my mum on gym days, so I’ve got to take the front wheel off my bike and stick it in the boot, I’m not going to lie, this is a bit of a faff!
I’ve had a bit of a rubbish day, so I’m not in the best mood shoving the wheel in- that said, there was definitely something cathartic about blasting through the traffic past Four Lane Ends
Day Two: Tuesday 25th July
7:30 I really had meant to put the wheel back on my bike last night, but what with dinner and Game of Thrones, I ended up leaving it until this morning. Fortunately it was a two minute job.
7:56 (!!!) I had much better luck with the traffic crossings today and I stormed in for 7.56. 7.56! What to do with all this extra time? I compromise and spent half of it catching up on emails and the other half drinking a green tea and catching up on the latest goings on in the group What’s App! So far, so good!
1:30 A potential new tenant comes to view the park, so I’m required to head to our marketing suite and do a presentation. The only thing I have as a jacket is my cycling top.
I walk over feeling a bit ‘keen’ – especially when part of the presentation requires me to extol the benefits of cycling!
18.30 Cycled to the gym again and did a spin class – and yes that sentence is as ridiculous as it sounds.
During one of the ‘heavy’ climb tracks I find I’m having to amp the resistance up higher to feel the difference – a result!
With cycling – EVERY day is leg day!
Day Three Wednesday 26th July
7.00: I leave for work even earlier today as my personal weather forecaster (my mum) tells me its going to rain at 8.00. Instead of doing most of my getting ready at home, I do everything here. I’m ready and at my desk for 7.55
18.30: So, I stayed behind after work today and took part in a free Fatburn Extreme Taster session: Its way more hardcore than I’m expecting – great!
Well, great until I remember I’m cycling home! Everyone encourages me to leave my bike here and accept a lift but I decide to persevere.
I notice my confidence creeping up – I stay on the road at Holystone roundabout instead of using the pedestrian crossing – I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that on Monday – I can’t believe how quickly my confidence is building!
Day Four. Thursday 27th July
7:00 My fiance wants to know what this strange lady who keeps leaving the house at 7.10 has done with his girlfriend, he’s confused why I need to go in so early if I’m getting to work much earlier than normal.
I don’t really have an answer, it just feels easier to get up and go!
My main observation from my whole experience is that I’m surprised how quickly my confidence built. Early on I realised most people are good people and those that aren’t, well they aren’t your problem. I saw awful behaviour from a minority of motorists – but I also saw it from cyclists and pedestrians too – it’s just the nature of some people I guess. A quick shout out to…
- Mrs ‘Tut at Cyclists while walking down the CYCLE lane’ lady.
- Mr ‘Look No Hands while going round a roundabout’ Cycle guy – trust me, you don’t look as cool as you think you do!
- Mr ‘I’m going to cut into the cycle lane to undertake two cars at once’ guy – he was a real gem!
- Plan ahead for parcel deliveries
- No one (and I really mean no one,) notices if you haven’t washed your hair and put it in a ponytail instead.
- Think about having some ‘business attire’ accessories on hand – you’ve probably got room to sneak a handbag and a jacked in your rucksack – it avoids turning up at meetings feeling like you’re wearing a sash saying ‘I JUST LOVE CYCLING, DON’T YOU?’
- Preparation is key. Pack your bag the night before and then just get up and go!
- Relax and enjoy yourself – this is actually quite good fun – commuting and fun – who’d have guessed it!