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100 miles a week ... but I don't feel like a cyclist

By Thomas Hardy, posted 15 August 2017

I am not a cyclist, I am a free man – free not to wear lycra – says Thomas Hardy 

Contact on twitter @justridethebike

I ride 80 to 100 miles a week, and just clocked 2000 miles for 2017, but I ‘m not a cyclist. In fact, until a very enjoyable pootle around the closed streets of Ride London’s Freecycle in late July I hadn’t ‘been for a bike ride’ since I bought my bike just over a year ago. My only cycling is as a commuter - from Highams Park on the edge of Epping Forest, to the City and back - most weekdays. 


I say I’m not a cyclist, because I haven’t - so far - developed any interest in the ‘stuff’, or gear that seems to be part and parcel of the bike scene. Having bought a decent, but sensible hybrid and kitted it out with mudguards, rear carriers and panniers I haven’t stepped in a bike shop since. I get on fine with shorts and a t shirt, or jeans and extra layers in winter. The bike’s stock pedals seem to work fine with my running trainers, and I’m sure a Gap merino wool sweater is as warm as a hundred-quid breathable base layer. I did pick up a waterproof cycling jacket in Aldi, but was slightly bemused by a Twitter exchange about the necessity for a cycling jersey because of the need for pockets. I struggle to think what I might need from my pocket in a 50-minute amble along Quietway 2.

Photo by Fritz Bielmeier on Unsplash

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Of course, there’s a time and place for all that gear, but I do wonder whether would-be cyclists are put off by the talk of clipless pedals, cadence, dry lube and carbon forks that so often happens when you ask a serious cyclist a seemingly simple question. It really is possible to ride serious distances without getting sucked into that world.  


My main concession to the cycling world (mainly because I started using it long ago for running) is a slightly obsessive use of Strava. And - just occasionally - I notice that I’ve ridden considerably further and faster than the lycra clad guy I overtook in when he slowed down to drink from one of his two sports bottles attached to his frame. Each of those little commutes adds up and receiving kudos before I sit down at my desk always gives me a little boost - and milestones like a 3,000-mile year must be shared - surely?

Thomas Hardy lives in North London, and is not a cyclist.

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