Why Rachel from Devon commutes by bike - "Leaving work feeling jaded and then suddenly perking up after one or two pedal strokes and enjoying every inch of the ride home. Getting to recognise the other cyclists who use the same route, and exchanging nods or waves. A day when you get through the traffic jams with particular aplomb." Rachel, we couldn't put it any better ourselves...
Name: Rachel Ware
Workplace: University of Exeter
Tell us about your commuting rig: Late last summer I upgraded from my trusty Trek 1.2 to a Madone. In winter/rough weather I switch to a Giant MTB. Both make me smile!
What’s your commute like? 27 mile round trip from my home near Honiton to the centre of Exeter. Mainly on quiet A roads (the old A30) with a sizeable chunk of Exeter rush-hour traffic and some short off-road sections, including the beautiful new Redhayes cycle bridge over the M5. One or two big lumps to get over – nowhere in Devon is flat!
How many days a week do you commute by bike? I aim for at least two or three, rising to four or five in the summer. Depends on work commitments – my job involves quite a lot of travel around the region so some days I’ll be in a hire car. I’ve been commuting this route for three years, and keep count of the number of days I ride each month so I can ensure year-on-year increases (all cyclists like stats, don’t they?)
What do you enjoy the most about bike commuting? Everything. Sometimes (often!) a ride will be the highlight of my whole week. Riding west in the morning with the sun rising behind me and the song thrushes singing and feeling like the only person on earth. Leaving work feeling jaded and then suddenly perking up after one or two pedal strokes and enjoying every inch of the ride home. Getting to recognise the other cyclists who use the same route, and exchanging nods or waves. A day when you get through the traffic jams with particular aplomb. Hammering home down my favourite stretch of long, fast, empty, straight road under a full moon and a sky full of stars. It’s all good.
What’s your least favourite thing about commuting by bike? Faffing about with carrying a change of clothes into work. I don’t have a car (on the days I don’t cycle I walk two miles across the fields to the nearest train station) so I’m always lugging stuff about. My office is like a wardrobe – I have a filing cabinet full of shoes.
What are your main reasons to commute by bike? It feels free (even though I spend loads on kit!) and it means I’m totally flexible. No waiting for lifts or trains or buses, just hop on and go. And of course it’s excellent for maintaining fitness all year round.
Have you got any funny or interesting bike commuting stories or experiences to share? Not really – just the observation that even though the route and the time are the same, the changing of the seasons and the rhythms of the work year mean that each ride is totally different and often very memorable. I listen to my ipod on the countryside stretches of my ride home and the combination of experience and music is often completely magical.
What’s your killer commuting tip? It’s a cliché but it’s true: If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right!
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