Cycling to work – month 3 (a photographic guide)

Ok so here are my thoughts after 3 months of cycling to and from work:

  • I have the most muscly legs I’ve had since I played hockey at school, legs are today bare and I’m not cringing about it. My belly is still the same (is there such a thing as “cyclist’s belly”?).
  • I have issues with bike locks. I have bought 4 in 3 months at £30 each, thus negating entirely the savings made from the tube. This is due to keys breaking from jiggling around in my basket or from keys being lost from falling out my basket. But I’m not stupid! After only 4 times, I now do not keep my lock and key in my basket.
  • Cycling to areas I’ve never been in London is brilliant – I went from Soho to Southwark to Tower Bridge to Brixton the other day after work and saw a whole heap of buildings I’d never seen AND the sunset over the Thames.
  • But I’m always lost – Notting Hill to Brixton took me via Buckingham Palace.
  • But this is great, I’m getting to know London and how she interconnects.
  • Finding yourself on a 4-lane motorway type thing with lorries zooming past you and not knowing which lane to be in will ALWAYS be scary. I find it best to shriek a little bit, wobble, and then keep going straight.
  • I got the tube for the first time today in months and I must admit I was excited because I GOT TO READ THE METRO again but that was by far the best thing about the journey (a story about a pigeon with some bread on its head –  hurrah!) which was otherwise hot, slow and squashed.
  • I have had 3 mini cycle accidents and all 3 have been caused by me, you do actually need to concentrate a bit.
  • There should be more bike racks in London, particularly outside shoe shops and restaurants. Hear that Boris?
  • List of most annoying fellow road users: 1. White van men who don’t see you 2. Moped riders who cut you up 3. Cyclists who go through red lights (unless late for work in which case it is entirely acceptable*) 4. White van men who make comments about the length of your skirt 5. Bus drivers who don’t leave you enough space to get round.

So for anyone intrigued enough to start cycling, here’s a photographic guide to my journey (and note: taking photos while cycling is also not a good idea, I almost cycled into a taxi).

New Oxford Street to Covent Garden – I was going a leetle bit fast when I took this – you see that taxi in front? Well he sort of slowed down and I didn’t as much so I sort of cycled into the back of him, but only gently

St Martin’s Lane

I got through this gap

Trafalgar Square – always something good to listen to / see

Cycling past Big Ben

The view from Southwark Bridge

Sunset over the Thames

Avoid the crowds of the Vauxhall Bridge Roundabout

And the race begins at Stockwell to see who can cycle up the road the fastest

* JOKE! I do not go through red lights unless REALLY late

UPDATE: Cathy’s comment below reminds me, I now cycle in my normal work clothes, but pencil skirts don’t work as they slowly work up your thighs until you are effectively flashing everyone. And you don’t want to wear anything you would be upset about sweating over or getting a little oily. So I’m now wearing work clothes that are a little more casual – A-line skirts and dresses, loose and light, and I ALWAYS cycle in heels, much more fun to cycle glam – but don’t get me wrong, I still cycle fast and I WILL overtake you if you don’t get a move on. Hurrah!

22 responses to “Cycling to work – month 3 (a photographic guide)

  1. stay happy

    summer is going to be amazing if it’s like this all the time

  2. Love the picture in the tunnel by VB roundabout. Didn’t know there was another Boris Bike dock there. Cyclist’s belly is a definite and annoying phenomenon. Clearly cycling helps burn calories but it also makes you hungrier and more prone to indulgence because you think you “deserve” it! One of the great things about stopping at red lights is the opportunity to chat with other cyclists (although some can be not terribly receptive to chatting).

    • You are so right – I totally think I deserve indulgence, which at the mo revolves around pork pies, mini baby bel and sainsburys yum yums. Always hungry when I get home. quality of life so much better now though, worth it for my little cyclists pouch! x

    • I think the rack under VB railway arches must be new – there wasn’t one there when I was commuting to Vauxhall (up till last autumn) and the rack by the riverside development there was almost always empty in the morning. Good to see the network extending out beyond its central London origins.

  3. Brilliant! This is where I hope to be in a couple of weeks time . . . I haven’t been on a bike for about 20 years and deciding that my 30 year old Brownie Proficiency badge wasn’t up to it, I have been having cycling lessons! (Lots of councils are still offering free sessions). I couldn’t believe how much fun it is!

  4. Woohoo!! Although I am devastated to hear about cyclist’s belly, as I was rather hoping that cycling would make me a little more bikini ready than I currently feel. Good re: legs, bad re: tummy (and completely understand Paul’s point about the ‘deserve it’ mentality – I think that’s what just made me eat another mini pork pie…

    I said this the other day, but I’ll say it again – thank you for inspiring me to get a lovely bike and overcome my (daily) fear of white van drivers. I also do the mini shriek wobble, combined with a fear-stricken facial expression. I’m not going to lie to you, I think I’m hoping that means likely ‘mowers down’ will take pity on me and realise how terrifying it all is.

    Hurrah for summer!!

  5. Thanks for the update! It’s great that you’ve kept up the cycling, you’ve survived the coldness and now can enjoy London cycling in spring, one of the most life-affirming activities there is. I’ve just arrived home in Clapham from a meeting in Baker Street, my route included going through Hyde Park full of Londoners and tourists enjoying the brilliant sunshine. How blissful… How are you getting on with cycling in heels? I am experimenting with cycling in high wedges, which is quite a challenge and definitely A Level high-heel-cycling. I’m amazed that you got through that gap, btw, I would be far too nervous and wobbly….

    • Oh Cathy you were my inspiration! I now cycle in dresses and heels! Sometimes skirts and heels but pencil skirts are bad because they end up round your waist (hence white van driver comments) so you need something A-Line. I look at the other gals in lycra and think oh darling get your glam on, and then overtake them zzzip zip. Hee hee xx

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  8. Love love love this post and am still so sad that the Boris Bikes came out RIGHT before I left London AND I only discovered the Islington Cycle Path would take me STRAIGHT to my office–from my own flat no less–once I got on a Boris Bike.

    So a couple of thoughts…about your bike key…have you considered an Orla Keily bag? She puts key fobs in the purse. Like attached key cords. Stretchy too so you can drag them out to the length you need. I’m kinda addicted.

    Also, have I told you about one of my fave Chicago bike blogs? She too is a big believe in heels! And nice dresses. Enjoy!


  9. Fingersdavies

    The basket obviously enjoys it’s outings!

  10. How long did it take you to get the nerve to start cycling? Or are you more of an adventurous person? I would *love* to cycle about but I am a bit scared of the buses and mean drivers.

    • Oh my it took me frickin’ forever. I have been meaning to cycle for about 5 years and only just got the nerve. I’d start cycling at weekends and then do your trip to and from work with a colleague or friend since you know which lane etc. It is scary at times but its definitely worth it. Good luck and let me know how you get on!! x

  11. The Boris bikes in that tunnel appeared last summer – although I think they’ve just added a few more.

    I can’t believe you were crazy enough to go through that gap – I’m assuming that you arrived and knew the light sequence well enough to risk it since if the lights had changed when you were halfway through, you’d have been a casualty statistic now. One thing that drives me nuts about cycling in London is watching people feeling they HAVE to get to the ASL – no, sometimes it is safer to just sit behind the first car/van.

    Totally agree on the bike racks – there aren’t enough and there are so few resources to find out where they are other than Google Streetview when you’re planning a trip to somewhere you don’t go often.

    @mujerboricua – try your local council for cycling lessons. They are brilliant for a one-on-one catered to your needs. It really gave me the confidence I needed to commute regularly and deal with busy traffic. The majority of drivers are OK and will give you time/space so long as you are following rules of road so they can anticipate your movements and taking primary so drivers don’t feel they can squeeze past at stupid points.

    • Hi there – yes it may have been stupid to go through that gap! Recently had a bit of a scare so a bit more cautious. I agree some cyclists are v dangerous and I don’t want to be one of them! One on one lessons might be a good idea for me too 🙂 x

  12. I am so glad I found this! This is brilliant. When I come back to london, I am so going to cycle and do bike tours 😀

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