Making the decision to start cycling the 12 miles from Bromley to Central London was one of the best I have ever made. 3 months later I couldn’t even imagine stepping onto a dreary, sweaty and miserable train again. It’s just something about being out in the fresh air every morning and evening, knowing that you’re doing something good for your body while also saving money that would usually go to a rail network that can’t even get the trains in on time.
This change has been a no-brainer for me, but it does take a bit of willpower to get started. Once you get that first couple of weeks on the saddle you won’t even think to look back. In the next couple of posts, I am going to go into why I love cycle commuting into London, how to motivate yourself to start doing the daily cycle and lastly, and probably most importantly, how to stay safe while pedalling through the streets of the capital (or any city). Let’s start off with why I love it.
It saves me hundreds of pounds a month
For some people, this may be a bit of a fickle point, because you can’t put a value on the health benefits that come with cycling, but for my bank account, it has been an incredible relief. If you live within 5-15 miles of the City, then you’ll likely get a train to work. This might cost you in the range of £100-£400 a month. If you take the top end of that you are talking about almost £5000 per year – think of the juicy carbon fibre number you could get with that?! For me, I was handing over £200 to the delights that are South Eastern trains who consistently messed up the timetable and I felt my money would be much better spent elsewhere. So, when I decided to do the daily commute on my bike, I now have an extra £200 a month to spend wherever I’d like – which tends to be on bike gear anyway, more on that later.
It makes me feel great
It’s hard to explain how much better I feel now that I have been cycling to work every day for the past couple of months. When you’re sitting on a train with other weary commuters, moaning about the amount of work and stress they are preparing for during that day, it doesn’t exactly make you feel motivated with cracking on with yours. But when I am cycling I am focused and switched on, releasing endorphins as I go and arrive at work primed and ready. Then another thing, that is often overlooked, I get a lovely refreshing shower upon arrival which really sets me up for the day.
My fitness has improved an astonishing amount
I wasn’t too worried about my fitness when I started cycling, but it has been a pleasant side effect. I felt quite fit already, I tend to get to the gym ~4 times a week and like to play football and am generally quite an active person. I’ve gotta say though, that first week of riding a few months ago really tested the old cardiovascular system. Now, I feel like a fresh spring chicken when I cycle in and my times are gradually getting quicker and quicker. The best thing about it though is I barely feel it when I cycle in. Before it was a bit of a challenge to ride 24 miles in a day, now it is just the norm and that is a very good feeling.
Rack up those Strava miles
This is an incredibly superficial point, but everyone loves secretly checking out each others Strava mileage. I love looking at my friends and realising that I cycle more than everyone else, but then I’ll see a fellow commuter and take a longer route home because I want to make sure my weekly total will edge his by a few miles. However, in all seriousness, it is really great to see my Strava miles go up and to see how I have improved over the last few months.
No more sweaty trains
I have brought up the train point a couple of times here, as I really feel it is one of the main negative things of working in the City, and I didn’t realise it until I started cycling. Sitting with a bunch of strangers, who have just finished their own miserable day at work (especially in the summer when the air-con is non-existent), really just makes you want to head home – still feeling miserable, like all the other miserable people – and do nothing. You feel horrible, you probably look horrible, and you are sharing all of that with strangers. Get on your bike and you will feel refreshed when you return home.
Can stick to my own schedule
Does anyone like sticking to a schedule set by someone else? I knew that if I left the house by 7:30am, I would make the 8:00am train from Bromley, to then make the 8:10am train from Grove Park, to then arrive at Charing X by 8:40am. However, if I wasn’t ready in time and missed that 8:00am from Bromley, I would be in big trouble. Not to mention if the trains were running late, which is a whole new story in itself. Being able to wake up and not have to worry about missing a bus or a train is an absolute delight, I know I can leave at any time between 7:00am to 8:15am and I’ll still arrive into work with plenty of time and I won’t have been dealing with any stress of regular commuting. I often find myself leaving even earlier because I am looking forward to my morning ride. Then when it comes to leaving work, I am not restricted to times of public transport and I know what time I will make it home.
Reduces stress, massive overall wellbeing improvements
This is by far the biggest benefit. I have generalised it to a point but this is because it generally just makes you feel a lot better. You can’t put a value on waking up feeling more positive, arriving at work feeling more productive and then making it back home and still having energy for the evening, just from getting on your bike and pedalling for a couple of hours a day. It gives me an extra 2 hours of exercise every day that I would not normally do. Breaking that down, it’s 10 hours extra per week and 480 hours per year, along with all the other benefits. It’s a no-brainer.
There are so many more reasons why cycling to work will make your life considerably better but you just have to make the jump to try for yourself. If you want to find out how you can motivate yourself to get on the bike for the first time or you’re worried about it not being safe, make sure you subscribe to the Vivi blog for my next couple of articles going into those exact things. See you soon.
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