I’m rubbish at cycling and that’s ok! You don’t have to be very good to enjoy one of the most healthy, environmentally friendly and fun ways to travel.
I’m definitely not very good. I don’t wear lycra. I’m terrified of cycling with clip-in pedals. I moan about hills and never race other cyclists. I don’t really know that much about the different types of equipment out there, or the cycling as a sport, nor how to fix my bike.
And that’s ok. Initially I felt that I had to be an athlete to race around by bike — but then I thought — actually, it’s not like you have to endure performance training to get the bus. In fact, for me it’s actually pretty good to be rubbish. I don’t feel the pressure to race with anyone at traffic lights. I go at my own pace, no matter how pushy the traffic around me is. For me it’s about taking the time to absorb all the things going on around me, spotting the city eccentricities and enjoying the moments!
Then there’s all the equipment and lycra that used to intimidate the hell out of me! Then I realised, I can sport whatever outfit I like, and ride whatever bike I want. Talking to some keen-bean cyclists, I used to feel the pressure to track performance and calorie burn, but I don’t bother with that any more — for me it’s about enjoying the ride, not breaking records!
What really helped me get into cycling were my friends, so to anyone thinking about cycling, find a buddy to cycle with. You’ll realise they will have their own story to tell about certain places, and they can recommend and warn you about certain routes, making you feel that little bit more secure. The more the merrier! Also, I can not recommend cycling lessons highly enough. I got mine free from my local council. The instructor gave me some great tips and demystified what I thought were the unspoken rules of urban cycling — it turns out there aren’t really all that many rules, it’s just all about communication and confidence.
So many people I’ve spoken to feel intimidated to try cycling in a city like London. This is what I want to change with Blubel. For a start, by making it easier to cycle down quieter streets without getting lost, just by following Blubel’s lights. And I want to make the navigation even better by prioritising safer cycle-friendly routes based on the feedback from the cycling community.