Tag Archives: cycle to work scheme

Some towns are friendlier than others

As a commuter I spend a lot of time in traffic, correction a lot of time sitting in traffic watching the road around me. Since venturing back on the bike I’ve found that I notice cyclist more in that I don’t just register that there is a bike and I need to take care but I notice what sort of bike it is, male or female rider, helmet or not and what sort of accessories are on the bike as well as make model and colour if I’m close enough.

Today I went to Reading and noticed lots of cyclists. Is  Reading  a very bike friendly town ?There are cyclists everywhere, people commuting with children and dogs on the backs, people with laptops and briefcases sticking out of baskets, some in work clothes some in Lycra…lots of them.. whereas on my current commute to Solihull I hardly see any.

I know there are cyclists in Solihull, we have bike racks at work so someone is obviously cycling. I also know there are cyclepaths in Solihull as the Council tell me there are and provides a nice big friendly booklet about them… but I can’t find any of them…no cyclepaths and only 1 cyclist spotted just as I got to the office and our organisation encourages people to get on their bikes…

In Reading the cyclepaths and cycle routes are very obvious and well signposted and there are lots of them…some of them even tell you how long by bike it will take you to get from where you are to somewhere else.

Loads of cyclepaths seems to = loads of cyclists

On the journey back through Henley, less than 10 miles down the road I only see 2 cyclists in Henley, as I cut through the town centre from one side to the other, plus two stationery bicycles. There are no obvious cycle routes in the town centre, I spot a couple but they are on the outskirts and peter out as you approach the town centre…

Do more cycle routes mean more cyclists ?  Or is it unfair to compare Henley to Reading since it is much much smaller…

However cycling to the Reading office has never been an option since its about 70 miles from home… and by the time I got to work it would be time to come home. Solihull is a possibility though as even unfit Slug that I am I could feasibly manage 25 miles and with a bit of practice possible do it within 2 hours…

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Why do you run/walk/swim/climb ? How do you motivate yourself ?

Shortly after I got my bike through the cycle to work scheme my brother was inspired to do the same… and whereas my cycling came to a shuddering stop when the local office was closed he kept going…

When I started again he gave me some advice..to time myself; because half the fun is from trying to beat your personal best…

I mentioned this to a friend in our Reading office, this friend Will, is Mr Bike as far as I am concerned. This is a man who cycles to work most days (from Newbury), thinks nothing of getting on his bike to visit his parents in Derbyshire, was delighted to attend a trial in Luton as he could have the fun of cycling back over the Chilterns and a couple of years ago took 2 weeks off work to raise money cycling Lands End to John o Groats

He disagreed. He said it is not about challenging yourself. It’s about the journey. About enjoying the things around you that you miss when whizzing along in a car. Slow down and listen to the grass grow.

I think I may be closer to Will’s philosophy than my brother…the ride of failure on Tuesday was vastly improved by the sight of a fox trotting across the road in front of me as I panted and pushed my sorry way home.  The second time I was out I think I was happier by the fact I’d seen a fox cub, something small yellow and feathery possibly a yellowhammer and a heron all in one ride rather than the fact that I’d knocked 5 minutes off my previous time (not had such an improvement since though… but there has been plenty of good wildlife).

It’s not confined to cycling however, you can see it in most sports. Back when I used to climb (when the Man and I first met and before the Boy) you could divide the climbing community between those who were happy to push the E numbers and had their own Gym/climbing wall in the garage and the happy thuggers like myself and the Man whose idea of a good time was slugging our way to the top of a vaguely interesting bit of rock followed by a picnic in the sunshine with the rest of the group.

BUT… I’m not sure that this is reflected in sport literature. Climbing, Swimming and Cycling all have inspirational books about how someone took on the odds, pushed their own envelopes and improved their performance but there doesn’t seem to be much about the flabby majority of us (apart perhaps from the Ascent of Rum Doodle or the Owl and the Cragrat)…except in running literature

Which is why although I am unlikely to put Run Fat Bitch Run into practice I am reading it for motivation along with “It’s only 4 times round the village” and “Running Like a Girl”

Tonight’s ride is the standard 4 mile circuit I started with, complete with the need to open two gates…the penalty for quite country roads is that some of them are Gated…

Then home to pack