“You’re either a roadie or a commuter, you’re one or the other” explains the gangly gent in Billy Bisland’s Cycle shop as I have my bottom bracket tightened on my Raleigh Royal Tourer. I simply agreed before I made my departure, as I felt it was less awkward than engaging in conversation, but, I couldn’t help thinking as I cycled home on the roads into the fierce headwind, that I was in fact both of these things.
I have been intending on writing a short post on this new found love of the sport, hobby, interest and way of life that I have adopted over the last year as a person who rides a bicycle throughout the entire year (As previously I was a fair weather cyclist). I still do not associate myself with the lycra clad sporty types adorned in silky fabrics bearing Italian words written over their chests in fonts that I can’t even read. Instead I am someone who wears comfortable clothing and always has a dry t-shirt nearby, On longer rides however I am forced to wear the fabulous black cycle shorts with padding to prevent any ‘incidents’ that could cause me pain or discomfort.
- In the UK, there has been a cycling boom. This could be due to many factors; some say the Olympics in London had a huge knock on effect after the success of both Chris Hoy & Sir Bradley Wiggins (the Wiggo effect). Similarly, it could also be the success by the same Sir Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Tour De France where he won first place.
- Other indicators have been through key high street shops taking on cycling clothing as seasonal fashion, recently H&M teamed up with popular London based cycle shop Brick Lane Bikes to develop a clothing range built for urban cyclists by urban cyclists.
- Just last weekend in Edinburgh, the annual demonstration of Pedal On Parliament, where people take to the streets of the city to call for safer cycling for all, laws to be past to change speed limits and also to encourage more spending on creating more room for cyclists and safer urban routes through our cities.
- Recently I attended some cycle maintenance classes from the Glasgow Bike Station under the ‘Better way to work‘ scheme, it was outstanding and well attended and gave all the participants the opportunity to learn about their bikes at their own pace.
- In addition to the huge range of cycle events and sportive races that you can find on Cycling Scotland, my wife and I attended two fun rides around Glasgow, both the Harris Tweed Ride, and the Tartan Ride were fantastic.
- Also, small businesses have been beginning to thrive in Glasgow because of the increase, both Trakke (who make sturdy courier bags) and Siempre (trendy west end cafe) have been doing really well since setting up last year (2012).
- Finally, in todays’ news it states that Glasgow cycle commutes are up by a quarter in 2012.
I could list many many more of these links to influential sites and initiatives, but, its clear enough to see that over the last couple of years we have had a great increase in bicycle traffic and surely this can only be a good thing. On a personal level, I feel great when my feet are on the pedals and I hear the meditative clicking and whirring of my chain running through the gears, its a great way to unwind after a busy day and also a very healthy way to travel. As well being inspired by some of the examples above, we are hopefully becoming so tired of increasing petrol prices, busy traffic and ridiculously road surfaces that we would rather have a stress free commute to our workplaces, schools, colleges that saves us money, keeps us fit, healthy and happy.
Lastly, and back to my original point about being more than “a roadie or a commuter”, as well as my daily commuting to the office, I enjoy having cycle path rides with my wife and daughter to have a picnic or just simply to get out into the outdoors and stretch our legs. Less often I get the chance to have longer weekend rides into the countryside around the city where I can around 50 miles of open roads and interesting parts of the country that I would normally never visit.