In the second post on being a regular cyclist, I thought I would pick up again on the 10 things I had learnt about cycling in the first 1000 miles which I published on this blog over 2 years ago.
The 10 things I listed back then were:
- Cycling is really enjoyable.
- Learn to love the hills
- I like cycling on clear, cold days
- Motorists generally give cyclists room but there are a few too many exceptions
- You can never have enough lights
- Tight clothing is worn for a reason
- Cycling shoes with cleats make a huge difference
- Cycling can be a very technical sport
- I haven’t found waterproofs yet which don’t make me feel like boil in the bag rice.
- I want another bike for the summer months.
Here’s my update:
- Cycling is not just enjoyable but therapeutic, relaxing, challenging and motivating. In the last two years I have become a complete cycling convert. When I started it was purely about getting a bit of exercise to get me to and from work. Today I look to go out on my bike for the sake of cycling. Yes it keeps me fit but it now gives me a chance to de-stress, unwind, think and clear my head, challenge myself and finally allows me to eat what I want to eat as I will be burning it off.
- Learn to love the hills. Two years ago I said this may not be possible but a tolerance of the hills is needed. Well in that time, I have come to seek out hills for training and challenging myself. In 2015 I got the chance to ride with my brother and some friends in the french alps. We rode the 2015 Marmotte Sportive. which was 170km long with over 5100m of climbing over the mountains around Bourg d’Oisan. It was the first opportunity for me to combine my love of the mountains with this new passion for cycling.The mountain stages of the professional multi day stage races are the ones that make the difference in those races. So yes, embrace the hills, there is immense satisfaction in climbing a mountain, whether on a bike or foot.
- I like cycling on clear, cold days. Basically I like cycling most days, sunny warm days are now my favourite. Clear cold days one can dress for accordingly (see points 6 & 9) The days I don’t like are the windy, cold, wet days. Wind is the ultimate enemy of the cyclist, as everything just becomes more laboured. Rain, as long as it isn’t freezing cold I don’t mind, skin drys after all….. 🙂
- Motorists generally generally give cyclists room……. I am finding this one hard to remain positive on, especially as I cycle so much in central London now. It is probably still true that the majority of drivers do leave a bit of room for cyclists, but there a lot of close calls.
- You can never have enough lights. Winter riding is definitely a different experience to the summer. Reflective, high vis gear and multiple lights is definitely the order of the day/night. I saw many cyclists using the proviz range of reflective clothing. For commuting I bought their Switch reflective rucksack cover that doubles as both high viz during the day and highly reflective after night. It has been very effective on my winter commutes.
- Tight clothing is worn for a reason. Since March 2013 I have made the transition to full cycling attire and it does make a very big difference. Proper technical clothing makes a big difference to the road cycling experience. I am a fan of the castelli range of clothing and have a couple of pairs of shorts from them, but they need no publicity, they are so big. Early last year I discovered a UK clothing brand called Stolengoat owned by Tim Bland, I started with their Cafe Racer jersey which I rode the Marmotte in and it performed brilliantly. Then when winter came I bought their Climb and Conquer jacket and Orkaan long Bib tights. With the purchase of the Jacket and Tights I had solved the problem in item 9.
- Cycling shoes with cleats make a huge difference. Most definitely and these days, I now have proper road shoes with a stiff sole that significantly increases the efficiency and comfort of pedaling, even if they are a bit difficult to walk in… Plus everyone forgets to unclip from their pedals at least once…
- Cycling can be a very technical sport. It is a technical sport but you can make it as technical as you want or don’t want too. I am a bit of a geek and so it appeals to me, much as the tech involved in Scuba diving does too. I love it all and yes I have got into all of that. However I really do enjoy the simplicity of cycling. As a family we can just get on our bikes and go for a ride, especially in the New Forest near where we live. That’s the beauty of the sport.
- I haven’t found waterproofs yet which don’t make me feel like boil in the bag rice. It is possible but like with all technical clothing it does cost a little bit more. As I mentioned in point 6, I finally found something that worked for me and I rode most of this last winter in the Stolengoat Climb & Conquer jacket and Orkaan tights.
- I want another bike for the summer months. Back in March 2014 I was still on my hybrid bike, but in April that year I purchased a new road bike through the cycle to work scheme (it’s the bike in the picture above). Now I have ridden that bike in the England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland & Canada and clocked up over 10,000 miles on it. Funny enough though I still want another bike for the summer months. Time to indulge in the cycle to work scheme again…..