Commuter Cycling Culture Shock

Hannah - 10 July 2015

So I figured I was pretty fit,  having been biking to and from my pottery studio for a while and with the family round the lakes on a Sunday but this week I found out to my horror, I'd only been tootling!

Even though I normally get the train to Birmingham, when discussing an upcoming meeting with Peter from Sustrans at Hozelock in North Birmingham, I did consider driving. That was, until Peter suggested we cycled.

I have to admit it took a little bit of sorting out the logistics, as we had to get a local train part way. I also had to borrow a jacket from someone (thanks Yvonne!) because it decided to rain just as we were about to set off. Peter sorted out my bike, helmet, and kindly stowed my stilettos in his backpack.

The first leg through central Birmingham and back to the station was a lot less scary, traffic wise, than I had imagined. It was quite exhilarating that we had to get up some speed to tackle junctions and generally just go for it. By the time I was feeling a bit tired we got a breather on the train so that was all fine, I even navigated the escalator with the bike, which apparently isn't allowed but we got away with it.

The second part of the journey was a lesson in gear use, I don't normally bother on my 30 year old town bike and this was the first hint that I'd been just tootling! We then cycled down some slightly scarier main roads before making it to through the park and on to the canal path. Peter imparted some good advice about arriving looking cool by taking it a bit easy for the last few minutes of the commute - not sure I managed this but it was good advice all the same.

The meeting went well and we were back on our bikes. As I rode back along the canal I was thinking how it had to be the best way to commute in the world, as we chatted about moorhen chicks and enjoyed the sunshine. Even the hill back to the train station which nearly defeated me, didn't dampen my spirits.

So, despite realising that real bike riding, when you actually have to get somewhere on time, can be a bit more challenging than a Sunday tootle, I am totally converted. Plus, I had the best night's sleep I've had in weeks.

To find out how you can be part of the Sustrans Big Commuter Challenge, visit the Sustrans site here: