15 thoughts every London cyclist has

Every cyclist is different, from the bike they ride right down to their choice of socks.

However, there are common experiences that bring us together – the kind that make you nod with an excitement that you get when you’re sharing stories with another cyclist.

Here are some of our favourites.

What’s that noise?

Let’s start with a classic.

When you buy a new bike it’s a silent machine, floating through the air. After you’ve got some serious commuting miles in the creaks, squeaks and rattles begin. Miss a couple of bike shop visits and these just get worse. The though we all have is: “Was that sound there yesterday?”. Depending on whether the latest paycheck has just come in we convince ourselves “oh it’s nothing” or “I should really take my bike in to the local bike shop for some TLC”.

I can’t believe that Brompton overtook me!

The wheels are so teeny – how do they rack up that kind of speed?

It also applies to riders on Santander Cycles who use their unfathomable thigh strength to zip past you.

Please stay green

I’m not sure about you, but I go through around 35 sets of traffic lights on my way to work.

It gets to a point where I find myself taking amber lights personally, internally shouting “What did I ever do to you?” as my face screws up with rage.

This works both ways though – clearing Old Street roundabout with three green lights is undoubtedly a noteworthy achievement.

You also feel like you get to know the light sequences – “oh those fools riding fast in this section – they’re guaranteed to be caught at the next light”.

Ugh, I’m late

Commuters know this all too well, and of course it’ll be the day when every traffic light on your route is turning red.

Do I have my bike lock(s)?!

This is the “have I left the oven on?” for cyclists. You’ll have them on you 99.8% of the time, but they’re the only thing you’d have to go back home for, no matter how far you are into your journey.

What happened to the cycle lane?

You were only riding in it a few seconds ago.

Is this a one way street?

Nothing will make you feel more like a salmon fighting your way upstream, at least when you’re cycling.

What’s more, you often won’t realise you’re on a one-way street until it’s too late.

Wind, please blow me towards the pavement

You know conditions are getting rough when the traffic lights start to wobble.

Those gusts cause a myriad of problems for cyclists, particularly when they push us into oncoming traffic.

Heaven forbid you have to make a right-hand turn in a crosswind. 

Look up, look up

We sometimes do it when we’re on two feet rather than on two wheels: wandering into the road without looking.

A bike bell just doesn’t have the same command as a car horn, so you either have to shout or pray that the pedestrian will look your way.

Though I did once slam on my brakes for someone who was so rapt by their burger while crossing the road that they didn’t see me. I still have mixed feelings about this.   

It’s too hot/cold

This one’s a regular throughout the heights of summer and winter.

The key is layers, involving some discomfort while you warm up or cool down. Sweats and chills are inevitable.

I really need to pee

Speaking of discomfort, every cyclist has experienced a sudden onset of needing the loo at one point or another. For some it’s an incentive to pedal like mad.

Can’t… see…

Spectacular views make cycling a joy but certain things obscure that joy, like the glare from the sun, heavy rain or sprinklings of London debris getting in your eye.

That smells delicious

The city is full of bakeries, pizzerias and irresistible street markets, feeding you inspiration for your next meal.

You might even find that your steer veers towards the source of the smell, dragging you off-course. We all know that an impromptu burrito is worth it.

What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner?

The temptation of said burrito can lead to a stop at the supermarket.

Even when it’s on the cusp of bursting, there’s always room in a cyclist’s bag for snacks.

Where can I park?

Finding a suitable spot to lock up your bike isn’t always easy when you’re in London.

It’s the only time when those without cars can say “Sorry I’m late, parking was a nightmare”. Very grown-up.

And one when you have to take public transport…

I miss my bike

It could be because of a tyre puncture, an injury or a boozy work event, but it never gets any easier leaving your bike at home.

Especially when your face is thrust into someone’s sweat-drenched armpit on the tube.

What thoughts do you have when you’re cycling? Let us know in the comments below.

Photographs courtesy of TfL

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6 Responses to 15 thoughts every London cyclist has

  1. toryb 22/12/2017 at 11:32 am #

    Ha, I recognised every single one of these!

  2. Paul Bunnell 22/12/2017 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you (and a wave) for every driver who shows extra care and courtesy cuz they “get it” …

    Well, maybe every cyclist doesn’t get this thought … yet

  3. Nicky Bradley 22/12/2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Recognise a few, but you missed out: other cyclists a) pushing in ahead of you at junctions when you’ve already overtaken them at least once, b) cyclists who close pass other cyclists (managed to get one with my arm recently and was only doing a semi-signal right), and c) cyclists who go through red lights and give us all a bad name. I’ve been quite shocked by some cyclists behaviour since I started commuting a couple of years ago.

  4. Matthewn5 27/12/2017 at 9:34 pm #

    Mine is “Please don’t turn, please don’t turn, thank you!” on coming up to a junction with cars approaching…

  5. MBrayne 27/12/2017 at 10:40 pm #

    Written, I sense, from a non-Brompton-rider’s perspective. Now I live outside London, arriving by train for the dash from Liverpool St to Paddington and back, it’s always the Brompton – fits in the luggagge compartment of the train, of course, but even more important, I NEVER NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE LOCK!!! Or about the bike getting nicked (I’ve had two lifted, thanks to no-hoper locks before I got the plot), as I now keep the old girl umbilically attached to me wherever I go, whether restaurant table, bar stool or work place. And yes, it really is as fast as the old racer.

  6. Alehouse Rock 31/12/2017 at 5:04 pm #

    HUH? No…any wind and I want it BEHIND me. I was blown TOWARDS the kerb, and it was too high to bunny-hop it, so I went smack on the walkway…I was made of rubber at the time (a teenager) so I just bounced to me feet and rode carefully on. Any sideways gust of wind can be dodgy riding past high buildings, as most of us have noticed.

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