As the new year starts I’m seeing more people than ever cycling around London. Builders, lycra commuters, Pashley princesses, trendy students… It’s really nice that there’s a mix of people out on the streets enjoying the benefits of cycling.
There are obvious pluses to getting on your bike like improved health, not having to negotiate the loud, shouty, advertising-heavy tube and the wonderful independence of doing things under your own steam. It’s not all physical though, when I cycle all the background chatter that my brain continuously spews out (see my Dunwich Dynamo mental pie chart for an example) just fades away until I feel nothing but the soothing momentum of my knees rising and falling. A relaxed, serene state not too dissimilar to smashing out a few eps of Big Bang Theory. Hold up though, because imma bout to get a little Eat Pray Love on you -dunno really, I haven’t read it- with some life T-bombs that cycling taught me. If you like this kind of gubbins you might also like my recent Smashing Targets post.
Make Space For Yourself
When you’re on the road, if you stick to the kerb all that will happen is drivers will skirt dangerously close to you and they won’t make way for you. Cycle at least just outside the yellow lines, and give yourself enough room to maneouvre and execute turns safely.
Truthbomb? You have to make space for yourself because no one else will.
Nothing Is Ever As Bad As It Seems
Keeping tabs on the Accuweather hourly forecast to check if it’s dry enough to cycle I’ll sometimes get put off by warnings of showers when in fact a shower more often than not just means 15 mins of light drizzle, no biggie if you have a coat on.
Truthbomb? IRL things often seem worse than they are, doing something annoying is better than doing nothing.
Give Yourself A Break
Cycling up a deceptively steep hill the other day I was cursing my legs for being so rubbish and thinking ‘When did I get so unfit? Ugh, stupid legs, what is wrong with me?’ Contrast this with me coming down a hill, where I know I’m not saying ‘Wow legs you are so great thanks for carrying me down this hill so fast’. It’s easy to blame yourself for the tough stuff and then forget who got you up that hill when you’re speeding down.
Truthbomb? Peaks and troughs mate, that’s life. Don’t beat yourself up about the troughs because they will always happen and are out of your control.
Emotions Are BS
I’m not going on some WWF emo-lockdown, but sometimes you’ll do a long ride and your brain starts the nego creep ‘F this, cycling is bullshiz, just chuck your bike in a ditch and die’ then you have a little bit of food and suddenly all is well with the world again. It really teaches you that emotions are sometimes your brain responding to physical things that it doesn’t really like.
Truthbomb? Take care of the physical and the emo stuff will hopefully take care of itself. Don’t sweat the emo stuff until the rest of you is in order.
Being Strong Is Cool
Growing up I was the most stereotypical skinny, non-sporty, non-competitive, little WWII-obsessed bookworm you could imagine. PE lessons consisted of me throwing some asthma faking out on the Round Pond in Hyde Park and I associated any physical effort with pain. Now that I’m older there’s something really satisfying about unleashing your inner terminator. Speaking as a ~woman~, being all weak and girly and demure is boron to the max and there’s a certain kind of unshakeable body confidence you get from having muscles and being strong.
Truthbomb? Women aren’t often encouraged to be strong, to really love your body you have to learn what you can do with it.