Why did you first decide to start cycling?

its a fishIt’s interesting to watch people take that first plunge into cycling and immensely pleasing to hear about how much they enjoyed it. Recently, I’ve been quite excited as my friend will be joining the cycling ranks. His move to a different part of London means he will no longer be walking distance from work. Hence, it’s bike time. He asked me which bike I’d recommend and I said this.

Personally, I started cycling because I saw that my journey into work would either involve a cramped bus journey or two cramped tube journeys. Of course, the rest is history.

But I’m not interested in me (As I’m not a very interesting individual – some say borderline dull) I’m more interested in hearing why you guys got hooked to the drug that is cycling.

Leave a comment below..

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72 Responses to Why did you first decide to start cycling?

  1. Lena 09/04/2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Around this time last year, I randomly bidded on a lovely vintage stowaway on ebay – having considered it for about 20 minutes – and won. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 10 and even then it was never my own bike (it belonged to my friend who lived next door). So I went and picked up the bike, folded it on the tube, got back home and thought I’d never really use it much – such is the destiny of many of my impulsive ebay purchases. However, I took it to the park the next day and fell in love with cycling! I even started to cycle to work which is 8 miles away and that is no easy ride on a heavy 20″ wheel bike. A year later, I hardly ever leave the house to go anywhere without my (new, cycle-to-work scheme) bike. It was spontaneity and chance that got me into cycling but that was the beginning of the adventure, really. I just love it.

  2. David 09/04/2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Started cycling with my dad (life member CTC) at the age of 6 on the back of his tandem. That was 48 years ago

  3. Nathan 10/04/2011 at 6:46 pm #

    I grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, and used a bike go go everywhere, school and friends, and doing some shopping for my mum.

    University in Cape Town involved a very steep climb up to the campus on the slopes of Table Mountain. If I was lucky I would ‘catch’ one of the student buses which had a convenient rear platform with pole to hang onto. Sometimes I would do a classic ride around the mountain.

    Arriving in London as a political refugee in 1980, I used the tube for three days and then had to get a bike. In a basement in Charing Cross I came across one Paolo Garbini, a lovely Italian man who was running a tiny bike repair shop. He sold me a very serviceable second-hand racer. He also employed me in the dark years when I was refused a work permit…..

    Paolo later moved to larger premises, the Garbini Cycle Centre in Soho, from where he and many friends and customers would set off on what must have been very early London to Brighton runs.

    I now live in rural Cheshire and my commute to work is six miles of very quiet country lanes. Sometimes I miss the sheer excitement of cycling in London. So I read this blog! (Thanks, Andreas, it’s always a pleasure.)

  4. Roger Checketts 10/04/2011 at 9:06 pm #

    I have always had a bike since aboy but never went very far on the old Raleigh with a hub dynamo
    However when I went to Uni in Sheffield a friend ( Keith who was a dental student) said “have you got a bike” meaning a road bike—- I hadn’t, but told my dad and he bought me one with 12 gears– can you imagine 12 gears when I had onlu had 3before
    On our first run from Sheffield we rode over the Snake Pass to Glossop and then back to Sheffield over the Woodhead Not bad for a first run eh?
    After this I was completely hooked. I was out on my lovely bike several times a week with long rins int the west Riding and Derbyshire.
    For those of you who know Sheffield every way out, except to the east towards Rotherham, is a seven mile hill. Don’t think I could do it now but I just used to put my head down and go up counting what they now call the cadence in my head.
    I just lovedthe biking. sadly my well used raleigh was later stolen and i could not afford anothetfor a few years
    Derbyshire ( Peak District) is fantastic cycling country but demanding. All thanks to Keith
    I now have Trek T2.2. Very responsive. Been out on it today but only 18 miles

  5. Alex 11/04/2011 at 11:13 am #

    I started about a year ago, because I moved home and discovered I could commute to work almost entirely using cycle lanes in central london parks… I had previously never considered it because to me cycling on the roads looked very dangerous. I got a Brompton mainly because of the storage question, but also because its a simple 3 gear bike and seemed perfect…

    and indeed, it was a perfect solution initially, but I now have the bug for cycling and want to go on longer journeys for pleasure… plus the downside of a Brompton is how thieves target them so you just can’t leave it outside, even for a short while, and as portable as it is, you don’t always want to carry it around.

    anyway, much as i like the Brompton i’m thinking about selling it and getting something more durable and less desirable!

  6. Filippo Negroni 11/04/2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Started cycling: when I was little, for the obvious reasons!

    Re-started cycling: three years ago, first MTB, then roady. Mostly for fun and fitness, but even more reasons like destress, achievement, convenience, etc…

    Cycling to work: that’s a whole different matter. At first it was a way to save on the commute when my car broke down. Then it became obvious that for me there was no alternative. The trains leave on a schedule that does not suit me, or makes me anxious. I end up being at the station 5 to 10 minutes before departure and usually leave a little later then intended, adding to the stress!

    Cycling to work (and back!) is reliable, predictable, healthy, cheap.

    • Filippo Negroni 11/04/2011 at 12:40 pm #

      That is also why I have two bikes (well, 4 actually, but two are my main transport): a fantastic, super light, makes me want to go faster bike for the weekend ride; and a more sensible, slower (because it is heavier *and* not as smooth rolling), but much much cheaper bike for commuting. I put about 4k miles on the commuter and between 1k and 2k miles at most on the racer. If I commuted with the race bike (which I did try for a bit in 2009) I could easily shed off 10 minutes off my 45 minutes average commute (each way). But that would defeat the point of the commute being convenient and cheap: my commuter can take serious hammering, I can fit studded tyres for use on ice (see my blog for pictures!), it can carry all sorts of goods (including garden tools, food shopping, rubbish for recycling), and if it gets scratched or broken I can fix it cheaply, which means a running cost (bike alone) of around £100 a year.

  7. dels 11/04/2011 at 8:16 pm #

    I started commuting when I lived in Richmond and worked in West Ken. My partner was already cycling in to work and for me the temptation of the tow path was just what I needed to pick up a mountain bike (which also came in handy on the weekends at Richmond Park). Anyway, the tow path may have taken longer than just going on the roads, however it made my transition to roads when I moved from Richmond much easier.

    Fast forward 7 years and I now live in Los Angeles. I don’t cycle every day anymore because I have no shower at my work and when the weather gets hot, I am not the best coworker to be around! The car culture here is brutal to cyclists and the cycling culture is in its infancy both figuratively and literally. I find it more dangerous to cycle here than in London. Road rage incidents against cyclists are too many, one doctor even went to jail recently for vehicular manslaughter against a cyclist. And do a search for Crimanimalz Freeway Ride to see how the cyclists here like to “protest”. Not my cup of tea but I keep on riding when I can. Besides, my commute is 4.8 miles and on a pretty cushy street with a wide bike lane :).

  8. skippy 12/04/2011 at 8:31 am #

    When on Kitzsteinhorn in Dec1995 i had the chance to train on the Ski Race training track put in by the Austrian Europa Ski Team i met many of the future Olympic Gold Medalists .
    Meeting up with them again in Feb 1997 at the World Champs in Sestriere they told me to ride a bike in the summer to improve my general fitness and thus improve my race abilities .

    When you google Parrabuddy and/or Skippydetour you will see where this has led and it has opened up many new horizons .

    Past week i have been at “Snowbombing Music Festival” in Mayrhofen where i met many of the headline acts and some were able to relate their personal exploits on the bike and how it has improved their lifestyle .

    Whenever i am in new areas the bike has opened up so many opportunities that it makes me wonder why so many more people are not using the bike daily or even only at the weekend . So many use “spinning” for exercise but do not realise how much more healthy being out in the fresh air can be for them .

    Helmets should be worn on the head regardless of the weather , you can replace the handlebars but the pain and suffering a few experience Helmetless makes one wonder what they expect from life .

  9. julian 12/04/2011 at 10:42 am #

    i started cycling because i got a job that involves working shifts and now instead of rushing out of work on a late turn and legging it up a hill to try and get that last tube only to miss it , i now finnish work relaxed knowing my trustee bike is there waiting and get home double quick!

  10. Ben Brown 12/04/2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I think rather unromantically I realised that it was taking me ages to get to Camberwell with 2 buses and I could do it in 20 minutes on a bike and didn’t have to wait for any nightbuses once a half hour. And then I fell in love with it although one day I came home a bit pissed and just left that first bike leaning up against the garage while I ran in, desperate for a pee and forgot about it until I woke up the next morning. It wasn’t there.

  11. Ismail 12/04/2011 at 4:18 pm #

    I started cycling at 51 (I’m now 60) as a weekend activity with friends. I was hooked after the first ride. I don’t know why, but maybe because it makes us feel like young boys again. Or maybe because of the fun looking at and changing to better bikes. I dropped golf as it competes with my cycling time. Cycling has cured my sinus.

    Now cycling 90 km seems near, but felt far and boring by car. I am now more keen to cycle frequently, as I don’t know how long more I will be able to sit on my bike as age is catching up.

  12. Ju 13/04/2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Back in Brazil, I learned to ride a bike by the age of 6 and never stopped. But cycling in London, things seemed different. A good friend of mine had a serious accident two years ago and never rode again, everyone was traumatised by his experience; the traffic just scared me. My younger sister however (uni student) was the person who inspired me to loose the fear, gain confidence and cycle again. It’s all is very new for me, I’ve only been riding for a couple of months. Firstly near home (Balham) then, few trips to Richmond Park, two trips to the West End and suddenly I was hooked.
    Last week I bought my first bike as a grown up ( a Ridgeback Avenida Hybrid, costumised with a basket) and I have come to work this week riding it. 5 miles each way. It has been a total pleasure and it will be difficult to go back to the nightmare of tube commuting.
    I must say what scares me the most are the aggressive cyclists, who don’t have patience with slower fellow cyclist ( and I don’t thing I’m that slow).
    Anyway, I hope to keep riding from now on.


  13. Red22 13/04/2011 at 5:33 pm #

    My Dad bought me a trike when I was 3 and then bought me a “proper bike” when I was
    about 9. It had 3 Sturmey Archer gears which on a sunny day and a following wind became 4 gears. I could now cross the city where I lived and see my grandparents.
    At about 15 I bought a “racing bike” for £5 with the proceeds from my paper
    round .I now had 5 gears. With some pals we cycled up to the Scottish Highlands and through Glen Coe. Many years later my wife bought me a second hand bike and we
    cycled in Brittany although trying to beat the incoming tide at Roscoff caused the chain to stiffen.
    Later,on a Dawes hybrid with now 21 gears I cycled in both the Pyrennees and the Alpes, managing to climb Alpe d’Huez. I now have a Dawes Karrakum. Very comfortable and our diesel bill has halved.
    Like other contributors cycling has created many opportunities, given great fun to both my wife and myself (and some considerable concerns on the way). We are also fitter than we would have been had we not cycled.

  14. SM 14/04/2011 at 6:28 pm #

    I started cycling about 6-7 months ago for similar reasons to Andreas. On the days I do have to use the tube, I really miss the freedom of moving around on 2 wheels.

  15. Tim 15/04/2011 at 9:58 am #

    Great idea, enjoyed skimming through some of these while I should be working on a Friday morning!

    I started to cut out the bus part of my commute – only 20 mins each way but I got the bug. Then I realised I could save 80 quid a month by cycling further – to zone 2. Doing 10 miles a day and the best bit is its even quicker and a great way to get rid of any post work stress on the ride home.

    Started on a hybrid but soon moved to singlespeed for lightness and price. Fixed was tried and rejected and still not sure singlespeed and big hills work well for me..

    My routine has been honed over the past 6 months or so but I still need to combat sweaty back syndrome!

    • Filippo Negroni 15/04/2011 at 10:23 am #

      My personal opinion of fixed and single speed on the road is that they don’t make any sense.
      Fixed just makes you unable to stop pedaling when leaning low in a corner, which means you either must go slower or you must compromise the frame design to allow for a higher bottom bracket.
      Single speed is useless on anything other than completely flat roads, and even then, only if you don’t understand the basics of physics: you need gears to take advantage of momentum, and defeat drag.
      If you ever followed me, you will see me change gear quite frequently, and especially on my road bike where the rear cogs are spaced very closely.
      As for maintainability, derailers and shifters have come such a long way, it hardly makes any sense not to have them.

  16. Roy 23/04/2011 at 9:09 am #

    The bike thing happened for me whilst I was training for a marathon. All the aimless running around induced excruciating pain in my lower leg, diagnosed as shin-splints. I had a flatmate who advised me to buy a bike and take up cycling to work as it would allow me to keep me fit without thumping my feet against the ground.

    Great piece of advice. Never looked back…. except to make eye contact with people driving vehicles in an erratic manner.

  17. Bdave262000 04/05/2011 at 3:41 pm #

    When I was 6 I found £50 in a wallet outside my old school gate, (of course being the good boy I was I handed it into the police who then gave it to me as it was never claimed ). With the money I bought a far to large Raleigh Chopper and I loved it, from there I progressed onto my first BMX and on the weekends would rarely be out of the saddle. Following a racer and a few mountain bikes in my teens I pretty much stopped cycling.

    15 years later and as a result of the credit crunch and an ever expanding wasteline I sold the car, bought bikes for myself and my wife, a trailor for the baby, child seat for the middle one and tail-gator for the oldest. I started commuting 2 days a week 12 miles each way which at first took me about 1hour 15. I now do five days can get to work in about 50mins and have lost 3 and a half stone in the process.

    My advice to commuting in London is to give yourself plenty of time, try to anticiapte things well in advance, assume that other road users are going to pull out in front of you or that pedestrian will step off the pavement without looking, keep your brakes covered, try to stay calm, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident make sure its not through your own doing.

  18. Balance Bike Fan 02/07/2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I think it’s so important to get your child started out on a path to an active lifestyle as early as possible. Cycling is one of the best ways to do that. We bought our 3 year old a balance bike to start learning and she picked it up immediately. I hear they are fairly common in the UK and Europe, but kind of a new concept here.

    For some reason, us Yanks seem to hold the concept of training wheels very dearly even though it’s a terrible approach to learning to ride a bike. Hopefully, that will change over the next few years.

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