“Two bikes!” shouted Littleboy 1 excitedly when he came home from nursery the other day. He was right – my own is now in the hallway leaning up next to The Doctor’s. It is a momentous occasion in the household: the bike, virtually unridden since Littleboy 1 was born, has been resurrected from the cellar and Mummy is cycling to work.
The Littleboys are used to seeing their father donning his yellow jacket and helmet and going off to work on his bike. (In fact, although I have tried to explain to Littleboy 1 recently that Daddy works in a hospital, I have a sneaking suspicion that he thinks The Doctor just rides around on his bike all day….)
But now Mummy has rejoined the cycling fraternity, this time with oh-so-sexy nylon leggings and fluorescent gilet that makes her look like a cycle courier. A few Nappy Valley mothers have looked at me askance when I mentioned that I was cycling up to London Bridge twice a week – is this a responsible thing for a thirtysomething mother of two to be doing?
Well, these are my reasons. Two days a week I work in an office, and this involves a commute up the dreaded Northern Line. Our local Underground station must be one of the worst in
The second reason is fitness. A year ago, the Doctor and I chucked in our gym memberships. With two children, we hardly ever went, so were effectively paying £70 a month for about one hour’s swim. In the past, I’ve been lucky and never had to worry too much about my weight, but two pregnancies and lack of exercise has meant that recently I’ve been feeling less than svelte, and I refuse to resign myself to chucking away an entire wardrobe full of size 10 clothes. I hate running, and my weekly yoga classes, while relaxing, are not exactly a calorie burner. In contrast, The Doctor’s long cycle rides were keeping him trim.
So cycling is good for both the sanity and the waistline, not to mention the environment. Plus, I don’t get sucked into reading the trashy free evening papers on the Tube coming home. (This is a good thing; at one point, I felt I could have entered Mastermind on the specialist subject of the antics of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen). But what about the danger? I am a nervous cyclist at the best of times, so The Doctor has ingeniously worked out a route for me that involves few main roads and avoids the horrors of the Elephant & Castle roundabout-from-hell. I have managed to customise this route further by including a couple of pedestrian crossings that I can use, which means I never have to turn right off a main road, or negotiate a major junction.
So I am no gung-ho London cyclist, and I'm sure I don't get to my destination as quickly as I could if I simply ploughed up the A3 pedalling like Chris Hoy. However, the twists and turns of my little journey mean I get to see glorious little London parks and squares all at their sleepy, early morning best. But best of all, when I arrive at my office (where there is helpfully a nice hot shower), I can tuck into my pain au chocolat and steaming latte with guilt-free gusto.