Back in September we linked up with Babboe to promote a cleaner, greener, healthier and more economical way to do the school run – with electrically assisted pedal power! We invited members of the Love to Ride community to submit a short post about how cycling has made them happier, healthier and wealthier. We received so many fantastic entries that it took longer than planned for us to pick a winner – and Babboe were so impressed they have asked two runners up to become Babboe Ambassadors too! Congratulations to our worthy winner, Natalie from Southampton, whose fantastic post about discovering the joys and benefits of riding for transport follows:
I love to ride! 11 years ago, I didn’t even own a bike. The thought of cycling on the roads was frightening. What about the cars?! Images of being stuck on the side of the road with a punctured tyre left me cold. I didn’t want to have to shower and get changed every time I arrived anywhere, and what about the weather?!
Then I got a job where my employer insisted on not using a car and I had to not only buy a bike, but also use it. Suck it up, Natalie, you’ve got to do this! I really wanted that job…
At first I was wobbly and, frankly, petrified. I fell off. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault. I had been cycling in the gutter like a nervous mouse. My previous cycling had been in a relatively car-free environment, as a child, not with an HGV behind me! But with some practice, and some top tips from colleagues and friends about road positioning and how to mend (and avoid) a puncture, it felt as if I had been liberated! I’ve not had an accident since.
Suddenly, I understood why people bother. Cars (and HGVs) were now giving me the space I needed to cycle safely. I started to build up a level of fitness that meant it didn’t daunt me to go to work by bike if I missed the train, or the congestion was bad, and I would get there sooner. I discovered all the quiet, alternative routes that you can’t use in a car, but that make a journey by bike a real pleasure, calmly beating the traffic without building up a sweat (or needing a shower), and discovering places I didn’t know existed. I’ve had just three punctures in 11 years that meant needing to actually stop and do something about it, and actually felt quite a rush from being able to do it myself. As for the weather, I’ve got soaked to the bone twice, and both times I had actually chosen to go out in the rain. It rains a whole lot less that I thought it did.
So, where am I now? I’m not a ‘lycra racer’. I still get puffed following my amazing colleagues, and I really rarely use my bike just for fun, but despite a busy life, two children and no time for ‘me-time-exercise’, I am fitter than I ever was, just by going to the places I need to go to. It’s taken a while to psych myself up to it, but I’ve actually sold my car. It saves us about £1,000 a year. I love arriving home with the children with all of us refreshed and buzzing, instead of grumpy and in a cloud of toxic fumes. Who knew?! I learned to love to ride and I’m so glad I did!