I’ve not been back on the bike much as it’s not really fitting in with life at the moment. However I’ve already been shouted at out of the car window by a child- clearly with the parents permission. Quite shocking really.

Last week I was on a first aid course, and decided to cycle the two miles each way.
On the morning of the first day, I cycled along the road on the local estate near my house, and this is when I was yelled at “The cycle path is over there!” Of course there is no recourse or chance for response. I had my reasons for chosing to cycle on the road, but on the way home I decided to use the shared use path to see how it went. The path was much less busy on the way home as it wasn’t school rush hour so it was easier than it would have been in the morning when it was solid with children walking cycling and scooting to their school.

However, the cycle path passes 4 side roads in a 400m or so stretch, each of them with excess chicanery to stop overenthusiastic cyclists from bombing out across the roads when they don’t have right of way. However, some of them are so tight that you basically have to stop to get through them, and many of them have three rather than just two gates!

I tried to think of an analogy that a driver might understand about the choice you make to cycle on the road when there’s a cycle path you could use if you wanted to. Apart from the fact that it’s the cyclists decision where they want to ride-I thought the driving equivalent would be the choice of driving on a larger road with less traffic, or chosing to drive on a narrower road, shared with slower more vulnerable road users and being forced to stop and give way every 500mm or so. And it’s a decision most drivers including myself take regularly- we choose to take the motorway for ease of travel rather than the slower, busies back roads.

Back on the bike

During the almost-year of my maternity leave, I cycled a disappointing 113 miles! Back when I was working in a hands on cycling role, this might be a weeks worth of mileage so it feels a bit strange to have achieved so few miles. Having said that I switched up the cycling for walking once I had a small baby on my hands so I  walked almost a thousand miles either carrying baby in the sling or pushing him in the pram. Not so bad afterall.


I’ve recently returned to work which actually affords me more opportunities to get some exercise. I’m lucky to work for an organisation that see the benefit of active and sustainable travel. I am expected to travel in a sustainable manner, and so when weighing up the time options, twice over the last two weeks it has been as quick to cycle as to get the train home from my meetings.


Most train journeys I do go through Reading station, which means I have to change trains which, depending on connection times can mean that my journey time increases significantly. From my front door to last week’s meeting took 90 minutes, including catching two trains. I cycled (the longer but safer) route home in 75 minutes including stopping to check the map numerous times. This week’s journey was one I know well as it used to be my every day commute. Not that I cycled the 14 miles each way every day on top of my work mileage, but I’ve done the trip many times. Again, the journey by train to the meeting took about 90 minutes and the way home about 75, so I was grateful for the fresh air, early autumn/late summer sunshine and thinking space.

I managed to forget my water bottle on the second cycle, and somehow despite my lack of recent riding, managed to make it home not entirely parched and didn’t even stop on the way! Very pleased with that (well except to dodge tourists in Windsor).


It feels amazing to get a bit more time back on the bike, though I desperately need new tyres as mine are cracking.


We’ve done a little riding with the baby and he really enjoys it now. He wasn’t sure at first, but after a few short trips to the forest he realised how much fun it was, and even forgot he was wearing his helmet after a while too!





Well done

Car drivers (or probably more likely the media) do like to bang on about the “war on motorists”. I think the idea is frankly absurd, with less car journeys being made across the county but more money being spent on building roads. …. But as a cyclist  it’s someone’s hard not to feel like you’re being dumped on.

Today (lucky me) I went for a massage at our local Hilton Hotel that has a spa  attached. First attempt at being pampered since baby D came along almost 11 months ago. I decided to cycle up as it would be quicker than walking, plus I like cycling, don’t get to do so much of it right now and the bike was already out.

I arrived to find that the hotel had removed the handy bike racks which were outside the glass windows of the gym (I.e very secure as there was always someone watching them) and replaced them with parking. The new spaces are disabled spaces, sadly none of the 4 new disabled spaces were being used by anyone with a blue badge.

Spot my dodgy guerilla parking of my bike. Stern tweets have been sent. ….


My favorite online tshirt retailer emailed me this:

Cycling facts you need to know.

No, I don’t shave my legs

Yes, I watch the Tour de France

Yes, Wiggo is fast, isn’t he?

No, I don’t think they’re all on drugs

No, I’m not on drugs

Yes, my bike is light

No, it didn’t cost that much

No, I don’t jump traffic lights

Yes, I’ve seen the videos on YouTube

No, cycling isn’t dangerous

No, my saddle doesn’t cut me in half

Yes, it does look a bit uncomfortable

No, I don’t ride on the pavement

No, I don’t pay road tax

No, you don’t pay it either

Yes, I am sweaty

No, you’d look awful in Lycra

Health & Birth

So I had a baby!

Interestingly, the subject of my health has come up a number of times throughout the last couple of weeks- in hospital, in labour, with midwives and the health visitor.

During labour, my pulse stayed lowed and my blood pressure well within normal bounds, and the midwives both commented on my fitness. I feel like I’ve bounced back relatively quickly from the trauma on my body (though a relatively short labour and minimal complications). In less than a week we were out and about walking (even if only short distances) and have been out almost every day since then.

My body is changing fast back to pre-baby proportions. Of course it isn’t the same and I never expected it to be, but within a week I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Again the subject of my healthy active lifestyle came up, but I’m sure this was also a result of the hyperemesis experienced throughout pregnancy and the fact I am breastfeeding now.

I cannot wait to get back on the bike!!

(37 weeks pregnant and 1 week after baby was born)

I’d also be rude not to add a snap of our boy!
Chubby Bhudda

We also took baby (at 12 days old) to see the Tour of Britain which passed within 15 miles of where we live!

Snack time


It’s the end of summer so it’s Vuelta A Espana time (otherwise known as cycling, Spain and sunshine time).

Every year we watch the Vuelta it’s so exciting- being the last of the grand tours for the year, we get to see some different riders and different teams come to the forefront. Add to that Gary Imlach’s sense of humour and you’ve got three weeks of cracking TV.

This year’s crowning moment so far has GOT to be Tony Martin on stage siz, who managed to get out front and use the following 175km as a practice for the world Time Trial champs. Even when the peloton were just 6 seconds behind him in the last 15km, he kept on riding to his own rhythm and got away again, only to be caught in the last few meters by a bunch sprint. Almost never have we scared the cat so violently with our screaming at the telly- what a superb ride. We were so gutted for him that he didn’t make the stage win, but people will be talking about it for years. What a contender! And he’s really shown that the TT champs will be all his!

Here’s a picture I took of the Fabulous Tony Martin at the Olympics last year:

Maternity leave and lots to say

I’ll put this into two posts because otherwise it will get confusing!

First off- I’m now on maternity leave which is weird and brilliant. I’ve been blessed with lovely weather so I have been out and about a bit. At 38 weeks pregnant, I still fit on a normal bicycle quite happily. Obviously my fitness is generally lower, my lungs and other organs have less space to work and I’m pumping around lots of extra fluid and carrying 15kg extra weight- but apart from that it’s fine!

Yesterday was so lovely that I cycled to my yoga class, then on to a charity event I was attending in the afternoon. Lovely quiet back roads in the sunshine through the countryside.. I love where I live and I love that I can travel in ways which help me enjoy it even more!


In May I managed 67 miles on the bike, in June it was 61, July saw 66 and August 44. So not all bad really, although slow and obviously much less than before.

I’ve also done a fair bit of walking- 55 miles in May, 59 in June, 33 in July and 39 in August. I’d imagine my walking miles with stay high once baby has arrived, though my cycling miles will decrease until baby can go into some kind of bike seat!

Long live this beautiful weather!

On that note

I forgot that I was going to post a link to a blog about a friend and (ex)colleague of mine living without a car.

The previous blog post etc came about after I “had” to drive (I put the “had” in quote marks as we rarely have to drive anywhere…. ) yesterday and spent a frustrating and unproductive 3 1/2 hours in the car (which if I’d had time could have been replaced with 5 1/2 more productive hours on the train). I posted on facebook

Driving….. why do we do it to ourselves?!

And thought nothing more of it. Of course the throwaway comment is never seen as that and I should have expected some kind of response. Most the responses were justifying why they drove (and particularly talking about carrying lots of gear or specific journeys that are hard by public transport), which I found quite interesting as I wasn’t specifically trying to ask people why they drove a car, more asking rhetorically why we made uneccessary car journeys. Equally as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve never tried to suggest that cars are the route of evil and that no-one should ever drive one for any reason!

One of the things that came up was about moving house without a car. In this specific case, the person in question was moving about 50 miles from Berkshire across to the East of London (apparently a 12 hour walk according to google!!), but it did bring up the issue of what is and isn’t possible without a car. When we moved last, we moved about 80m around the corner, a journey that was shorter by foot (hurrah for 1970’s built housing estates) than by road. We did it all with a large pallet trolley over the course of a few weeks. Another friend commented that they moved house using a shopping trolley. It made me think of Anna and her year without a car– which was not only a year without a car but a year not taking ANY car journeys- including lifts from friends and Taxis. From moving house, to getting to a wedding she used her bike and trains to cover 9700 miles (so a few more than me!)

Very inspiring experiment from a very inspiring person!

“I’m not anti-car. I’m just anti I-can’t-live-without-my-car.”

That’s how I’ve been pretty much my whole life, using my bike as a way to get around, or preferring to take the train, all the while appreciating that cars are very useful and, for some people, necessary. But as a nation we rely on them far too much – we hop in the car without thinking, and that frustrates me. It’s bad for environment, both locally (congestion and exhaust fumes) and globally (climate change), it’s bad for our individual health and our collective health (from obesity issues to poor air quality), and it’s bad for our pocket – cars cost a hell of a lot, and the price of petrol will only continue to rise as the oil runs out.

In the end, I found it quite easy – living in a city with a near 24 hour transport system is great, and most of the journeys I do are by bike anyway. Honestly, I’d be mad to own a car in London. But I did do a few things that were a bit more tricky – moving house, for example, was a massive challenge! And some of my journeys were much longer and more expensive than they might have been if I’d driven.

A great and well balanced blog! Cheers Anna! (More of her year-without-a-car-specific-blog here)

PS- my 50th Blog Post on here!

“Road Tax” again?

Oh looky- the BBC have finally jumped on the bandwagon (a bit late to the party) to tell us that “Road Tax” doesn’t exist. Oh really?! Cheers BBC!

Excuse me for rolling my eyes slightly, though really I should be very pleased that this issue has been given a decent airing on a mainstream news provider. I blogged about it last November but I wasn’t the first and of course (as proved) won’t be the last.

(have a picture of something)

I’ve had a frustrating week in regards to social media and responses to comments about cars and driving.

I hope that anyone reading this blog can see that I am by no means “anti car” (I almost typed “anti CAT” which would be heinous) or “anti drivers”- just someone who really enjoys cycling and would like to spread good correct information and knowledge about sharing the roads. It baffles me that people become so defensive and reactionary when I challenge their beliefs about driving. In fact often I find that I’m not really challenging people’s actual beliefs, but simply challenging them to think about their travel in more detail- something they’ve just never bothered to think about.

I think that a lot of this is related to my job. It’s my job to stay well informed and on top of issues related to travel and transport- and I work in a progressive area- encouraging people to think about the way they travel. My job has never been to force people to change their ways, to expect people to make unrealistic decisions or to belittle their current choices- but instead to work with potential and show people the options. If someone has an interest in changing their travel behaviour, or some kind of trigger (cost of running a car becoming too much/ struggling with health)- I can give suggestions and support to looking at the possibilities. Not all journeys are suitable by active travel (walking/cycling etc) or sustainable travel (walking/cycling/public transport), but many are.

Currently in the UK 1/5 journeys under 1 mile are made by car, ( Source) and over 2/3 of journeys 1-5 miles are made by car. To put this into perspective- a 1 mile journey is a 20 minute walk at an average walking pace of 3mph or a 6 minute cycle at a nice gentle cycling pace of 10mph.

I’m always keen to try to help people think about how they travel. For me, it has become second nature to consider each journey before I take it to work out the best method of transport.

Some examples of decisions:
This weekend my husband and I visited York for a friends’ wedding. The journey is a 500 mile round trip, which previously we’ve happily done by train. When you book ahead the journey is not particularly costly and takes a similar time to the driving. This time, we drove- with three suitcases (one each plus the hospital bag as baby is due in just 5 weeks) and the baby car seat. Plus the cat was going on a cat-holiday to my parents, so for the first part of the journey we had him and all his associated paraphenalia too.

Last night I had my pregnancy yoga class, which is just over 2.5 miles from my house and the majority of the journey on shared use cycle routes or back roads. So I cycled it, happily. In the rain.

My journey to the office by road would be almost a 50 mile drive, taking a minimum of 1 hour in good traffic (which it would never be). I’ve actually never braved it by car (I don’t particularly enjoy driving!), but it’s about 1 hour by train (plus a walk or cycle at both ends).

Our local shops are a 0.45 mile walk from where we live. A round trip by foot, including buying shopping takes about 30 minutes tops. If I were to drive (it would be 0.75 miles by road), there are only a few parking spaces outside, so I’d likely have to park up and walk to the shops anyway. By the time I’d got the car out, driven, parked up etc it would have taken me just as long. To cycle it’s about 3 minutes. Unsurprisingly, I choose to walk and cycle.

And it all adds up- in 2012 after breaking my should in March and the subsequent long recovery, I completed over 420 hours of exercise- the majority of which was integrated into my daily life via commuting or using short journeys to the shops, to see friends etc by foot or by bike. I covered over 2,500 miles, lost weight and became much more healthy as a result.

My husband and I share a car, which we use for longer journeys or those where we need to carry lots of kit. We have travelled 17,000 miles in our current car since buying it in October almost two years ago. The average annual car milage driven per person in the UK in 2010 was 8,430 (National Travel Survey 2010 Source) which has likely risen since then so we’re doing half of that each us, which is very satisfying.

That’s the decisions I make- I’m often baffled by how little people think about how they travel. They complain about the cost of petrol, the traffic they get stuck in …. etc (which always makes me think of this advert campaign and subsequent editing of it…)

They make unfounded statements like “busses smell” or “cycling is dangerous” to excuse the fact they’ve never considered it or tried it.

I’d say- just try it! Choose a sensible journey that you might normally drive and try something different. Or get off the bus a stop earlier and walk.

We view cars as being our ticket to freedom, but we seem so chained to them……

Hard work

Today I cycled three miles (pause for applause).

It was really hard work!

Last Friday I cycled 16! Why was today so hard? I think bump is getting to the point of making it quite difficult to ride, even for short distances. It’s not specifically uncomfortable, I don’t experience any pain, and I certainly don’t feel “off balanced” as the NHS told me I would after 24 weeks….. It was just really hard work. I don’t want to give the bike up yet (33 weeks pregnant, so I think I’m going to have to slow it down even more!