“But Mango… Do you even have a garden?” My manager was staring at me bemused.
I nodded. “No.”
“Can you even ride a bike?”
“Haven’t been on one since I was seven”
“Then why on earth do you want to get a bicycle?”
On the face of it, I suppose it did seem a silly idea but to me it made perfect sense. My name is Stephanie; my nickname is Mango (that story is for another time), and I work as a bank cashier with a quirky bunch in South London. I spend most of my time speaking to a lot of interesting people doing a lot of interesting things while I do the same not-so-interesting things daily. Periodically, I decide that to spice things up I need to start a hobby, and this time I chose cycling. Here is why:
WILL – I’m always looking for ways to get fit and tone up. When you have a small child and limited babysitting facilities like me, it can be hard to commit to the gym or classes. I tried DVD’s but I would watch them once or even work out with them and now they are just sitting on the shelf gathering dust. I see cyclists often and it occurred to me that I was not only slightly envious of their skills and confidence but that it’s something which can be done alone or as part of a team; so I could potentially gain the motivation and social element I yearned for from the gym but also that treasured ‘alone time’. Better still, it is not something that has to exclude my son.
If you choose a new hobby it has to be something you really WANT to do.
TIME –I live alone with my 3 year old son Caleb, affectionately known as ‘Lebs’ (which is a pain for phones – they always edit it to ‘Legs’) and spend most of my spare time with him. The rest of my time goes on housework, and playing Facebook games in between (sitting on my butt not being very fit at all). Big chunks of spare time are hard to find and this way I could squeeze in the cycling on the way to work and back, and en route to parks and other activities at the weekends.
You need something which can fit in with your life.
MONEY – Gyms and classes plus what it would cost to get regular babysitting is pricey business. Some gyms have a crèche but again pricing can get silly. Bikes can be very affordable or very expensive depending on what you want. A lot of work places will run some sort of a scheme to help you get a bike to use for getting to work. I went with the cycle2work scheme which is with Halfords. You get a voucher for the amount you set and you can use it to get everything bike related and pay for it over 5 years. Have a nosey here or ask your work place for more: http://www.cycle2work.info/. Also if you are not as lucky as me to live only a mile from work and can walk it then a bike can save you money on commuting!
Be mindful of your budget and check if work has any employee schemes
AREA – Whilst I live in a built up area, there are plenty of parks and bike lanes, hills and flats; quiet roads and very busy ones. Lots for me to explore and satisfy my sense of adventure. Knowing your area and what you will use the bike for becomes most important when choosing your bike but still worth considering before even choosing cycling. Cycling on road will keep your mind and senses sharp – an experience you won’t get from a gym bike. I know that gym bikes and the ability to give your mind a rest whilst exercising has its advantages too, but I find I do better when my mind is fully involved.
Consider local terrain – the more exciting or accessible it seems to you, the better!