"Being in control" - Number one reason why Sam from Essex loves to commute by bike.
Name: Sam Tarling
Workplace: IT, Herbert Smith Freehills
Tell us about your commuting rig: Carrera Virago bought for £250 off Ebay. Last year, i used it for commuting and triathlon racing. Its currently set up for winter commuting with 25mm Bontrager tyres, mud guards and a 1500 lumen light. This year I hope to get a dedicated tri race bike.
What’s your commute like? 26+ miles each way from Billericay (Essex) to London - (just over 50miles in total). I start around 5.45am so the roads are quiet and traffic free (there's a few tricky hills to tackle getting out of Essex) all the way to Ilford where the London traffic starts to build up. It’s pretty much flat all the way from there but then you have the other road users to contend with. On a good day it takes just over 1hr 20mins, on a cold, wet, windy day anything up to 1hr 40.
How many days a week do you commute by bike? Normally five days a week but have the odd day once in a blue moon where I get the train.
What do you enjoy the most about bike commuting? Being in control. I used to commute by train and couldn’t do anything about the delays, claustrophobia, other train users coughing and sneezing over each other! Seeing all the miserable car drivers faces stuck in traffic as I glide past is also an uplifting experience.
What’s your least favourite thing about commuting by bike? Wind, rain and inconsiderate drivers, you can almost guarantee that the wind and rain will stop as soon as you have finished your journey. Drivers that "didn’t see you" as they're speeding or talking on the phone (sometimes both) are totally ignorant to both cyclists and other road users.
Also, some of the cycle lanes around London are abysmally maintained. And I'm still not convinced that riding on painted cycle lanes after it’s been raining is completely safe – the rain doesn’t absorb into the paint as well as the rest of the road, leaving an ice like shine for the unsuspecting rider.
What are your main reasons to commute by bike? My main reason was fitness but it now incorporates money saving too. If I was to still commute by train, I'd be parting with £3000 per year. That’s a new shiny bike!!
Have you got any funny or interesting bike commuting stories or experiences to share? Apart from Kamikaze rabbits jumping out at you on dark country roads it’s been quite dull for the Essex leg of my journey.
As for London? It doesn’t sound funny but the first of (only two in total) accidents I've had didn’t involve anyone else. I was travelling in the cycle/bus lane on a straight section of road and all of a sudden I found myself lying on my back looking at the sky in busy traffic. Turns out that a bus had a diesel leak over the cycle lane and I hit it at 25mph. trying to warn other bike users of the danger whilst wearing torn cycling gear and covered in blood (looking like I'd just had a fight with a bear) didn’t seem to deter most of them and at least 10 other cyclists came a cropper. It was seriously dangerous but I can only think that people watching from afar must have been amused or puzzled by this domino effect.
What’s your killer commuting tip? Always stay aware (even if you're within touching distance of home/work). A number of times awareness that another road user may not have noticed me (and subsequently me slowing down, moving safely to the middle of the lane) has saved me from being knocked off from said unaware driver. The more you ride, the more you'll notice. Oh and for a long ride like mine, chamois cream is a must!
Are you a British Cycling Member? If so how does your British Cycling membership support your bike commuting? Not yet, but I will be.
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