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Marnie Millar recently decided to return to cycling at 59 years of age, buying an electric bike and experiencing the fresh air and exhilaration that separates cycling from most other forms of commuting.
Name: Marnie Millar
Workplace: Heriot-Watt Uni (until four weeks ago, when I resigned and am now unemployed)
Tell us about your commuting rig: Being 59 and a half years young, I decided to see if I liked cycling as much as I remembered when my "boys" were young, but was very aware that whilst I am reasonably fit, I am overweight and would not manage the steep hills.
I'd researched e-bikes for around a year before going and trying one out at the Scottish e-bike centre in Lochghelly, Fife. There was a Raleigh Dover step-through there, which I fell for completely. I don't often fall for anything like that and and it was twice the price of the one I had test ridden. My husband was amazed at my reaction to the bike and on the way home, he persuaded me that I should buy it.
The week ended with us buying an e-bike each, but my bike is the absolute best. It is a 2011 model and I believe is one of the last made with a Khalkoff frame; raleigh.de plates; and with the trademark (to me) black and red livery.
I love my bike and have covered a lot of miles in it, often not using the pedal assist at all. I wear double knickers under yoga pants, use either an Australian Sockeroos shirt, or a Wallabies Rugby shirt for a hi-vis look; gloves and a helmet.
I also bought a pair of prescription cycling glasses with inserts for the lenses. Pretty spooky looking with the amber lenses fitted over, but a definite improvement on streaming eyes because the normal specs don't shelter the eyeballs!
What’s your commute like? 9.5 miles each way, a combination of flat and hilly, on and off-road
How many days a week do you commute by bike? Two out of four days per week, unless the weather is miserable. I freely admit to being a fairly, fair-weather cyclist, but keep an eye on the forecast to get out as often as I can.
What do you enjoy the most about bike commuting? Being higher than a car means seeing over walls and satisfying your curiosity. Feeling very good on arrival at work because you've already had more fresh air than 90% of the work population will have that whole day. Having bike geeks at work stop and ask you questions about your bike. Using the pedal assist as little as possible, but enough to make you WANT to cycle to work.
What’s your least favourite thing about commuting by bike? Not being able to cycle on cycle paths all the way. Circumnavigating obstacles which should really have been positioned better ( telecoms boxes; waste bins etc too near lamp posts; road-work signs blocking the cycle path.)
What are your main reasons to commute by bike? Fresh air; the sheer enjoyment of cycling fast; getting out in the open air.
Have you got any funny or interesting bike commuting stories or experiences to share? One morning, on getting back onto the cycle path, I managed the front wheel, but forgot that I had a back wheel! Which lipped over onto the higher kerb, skewed me left and into a hawthorn hedge.
Not realising that apart from the five streams of highly oxygenated blood trickling down my forearm, I had two on my left face cheek, I wondered why everyone looked startled when they saw me. I related this to a colleague, saying, " I looked like a zombie film spare ... I mean an film extra!" He replied, " I think you meant a spare right enough!" Made me laugh.
What’s your killer commuting tip? When on-road, do as slow moving vehicles do if a traffic line builds up behind you - pull over and let the queue pass, smiling as they do. I always smile thanks to a considerate motorist too. I know what it's like to be a motorist, a cyclist and a pedestrian. Try to remember each mode too.
Are you a British Cycling Member? If so how does your British Cycling membership support your bike commuting? Yes. I joined for the insurance and the handy info. I'm also considering joining a bike recovery program through the British Cycling too. Getting a tad long in the tooth to be walking back 10 miles with my bike if stuff goes wrong.
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