Saturday, September 23, 2006

For some the journey to living responsibly requires fewer strides but for others great changes need to be in place to make just a minor adjustment.

For some, cycling is a natural way of life: not so for me! I have never had my own bike and never wanted to ride when I lived in London because of the traffic and the reliability of Londaon Transport. Even when I got a bike a few years ago, breaking the pattern of using the car was a hard one to break. The bike sat in the garage, going to pot slowly as things do without due care and attention.

So-I have a "green" blog! So- I recycle my toilet roll tubes! What of it? I am still surgically attached to my car!. I have for many weeks been monitoring how much I use my car, with the intention of limiting my weekly mileage. I felt that 20 miles per day was adequate and on the odd day where I do go over that amount, there are days where I do significantly less which makes it balance. I was aiming for driving no more than 150 miles per week.

Trouble is, I use the car less and less for none essential journeys but it doesn't seem to have much impact. It was time to reconsider a greener option than that: it was time for the bike!

The bike got it's overhaul and the time had come to justify the money spent. This week was the week...
Monday: I went to a friend's house. Probably less than a mile each way but it was a good test run, away from heavy traffic just to get myself used to it
Tuesday: A bigger step- cycled to work and back home, about 1.5 miles each way. Again, pleasant roads with a fairly mild hill
Friday: This was the biggest test of all! I didn't want to park in the city and I knew I needed to get from the city quickly to work. The bike seemed ideal, but was I up for
The answer is: yes! I cycled from my house to the railway station, met my mum there and we walked to Kings Church. I then went from there to Parkside School on College Rd and then back to the Forum. Then the final leg of the journey was from the city back home. I did it! I probably did 8-9 miles that day, which isn't huge but it's a big deal for me. I saved myself the hassle and expense of parking and the cost of petrol.

OK, it didn't save the world but I'm guessing this may well change a few of the habits I am so comfortable this space!

Good stuff - I found cycling around Norwich when I'm home really hard work at first but it's become second nature now - you do get used to it.

I only wish my motives were purely green - instead they're mostly financial and due to the cost of buses...!
I second Carls sound advice - you get used to it!

Your description of starting cycling was so very close to my own...I remember when cycling into the city from Hellesdon was a major achievement. I think the big milestone is some ten mile rides, once you are doing these regularly, then the leap from 10 to 20 to even 50 is remarkably easy.

Luggage - if you are carrying workstuff, books and things then invest in some pannier bags on a back rack. It makes a tremendous difference than a rucksack (and good panniers transform into a ruckshack when you leave your bike).

Clothes - layers, layers, layers. I can be freezing all wrapped up leaving home and tropical by the time I arrive somewhere. You need to be able to add and take off layers to suit.

Sunglasses - to stop stone chips thrown up by cars and help they help in the rain

Gloves - if you do come off you normally stick out your hands.

Best wishes and long may the weather hold...the big test will be the dark and the rain.

Gloves -
Ah! The winter! Who knows what will happen?!!! Thanks for the encouragement, all your advice has been duly noted (must buy gloves!)
It's hard when the car is sitting there and calls to me...Today for example, I could cycle to the school I'm going to and then go home and then cycle back as I have an hour gap between lessons but alternatively, I could drive and then drive on to my office and then go back.
I wish life were simple...
You go girl! I'm so excited to read your post because you're expressing everything I've been thinking over the past few weeks (since reading the green guide that came free with the Guardian recently). Since moving out into the sticks I use my car so much, I really hate it! I've been meaning to post on this very subject so I have done now - thanks for the inspiration!! (and great advice from everyone else!)
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