I learnt to cycle only when I was fourteen, but the next ten years don’t really count as experience comparing to the one gained in London within last 5 years with all its daily challenges, crazy traffic, even crazier drivers and seeing the biggest and busiest city in Europe little by little becoming a cycle-friendly place.
I won’t lie, I was s**t scared when I first got on a bicycle in 2010 on a busy London road. I am from a little town in Lithuania myself and even when I was cycling in Vilnius I usually used pedestrian sidewalk since cycling on a road along with other vehicles can often be equal to suicide over there.
But London was a jungle. I’m so happy that I had the best cycling tutor – my husband who practically taught me how to ride a bike from scratch. Because keeping your balance on a bike is only piece of cake comparing to the skills how to stay safe on the roads.
So in July 2011 when I quit my boring office job I first got a freedom and then started my exciting part of life by starting a venture. And both freedom and venture have been always related to cycling – no wonder that sooner or later this Cycling Cat blog has been born.
Let me show you my five bikes I’ve been riding in London since and the most exciting routes on them.
- Author. This is my husband’s Czech brand bike he’s owned since he was 15. I was given it since I started riding in London and what can I say – it had never been more painful to cycle! The frame was too big, the saddle too hard and look what we had to to with a stem – c’est ridicule! I could feel every single bump on the road and was always frightened by the idea that I can fall on a frame when sudden stopping (ladies, you know what I mean). Despite that it was my first proper bike in London and I rode it around Wapping where lived at that time.
2. Ridgeback aka ‘Ricky’. Oh, we’ve had the best times with Ricky! From summer picnics, wild trip to Epping to riding on the snow… Even squirrels loved Ricky! Super comfortable, more or less right size, amazing tyres which almost never got a puncture despite their age and cracks & holes on them… I bought it second-hand from a friend who runs a bike shop and still have it somewhere in the basement. Although I don’t ride it anymore, it’s just too hard for me to say Ricky good-bye and sell it to someone else as he (in my language ‘bicycle’ and ‘ship’ are masculin nouns opposite from English) has been so good to me.
Author and Ricky on a Brighton beach / 2011 Camping in Epping forest / 2011 Cycling with weather challenges / 2012
3. Viktorija. And then I finally got a pretty bike which had my name on it! It was a red Valentine’s gift from my hubby (boyfriend at that time), so great and fast that I broke a pinky finger only 3 days after I got a bike (blame totally falls on Westminster council for not repairing pot holes on the road)! Cycling was postponed for another two months… Luckily I lived in Wapping at that time and could walk to work, but I can tell you – oh, I missed cycling so much! But not only happy I was when I finally got back on track realising that my muscles were also quite flabby for not cycling for more than two months after doing it on a daily basis. However it didn’t take a while to get back to shape and learn that I can literally fly on this single speed read beauty not only overtaking road bike owners, but also climbing up the hills much easier than I do on any bike with gears (ratio 46/16)!
4. Giant Liv Dash. This is my current commuting horse. Once I sat it after Ricky I could feel the difference in speed and less effort I needed to put into my legs. A true fitness bike with a lovely lady bird bell to make it a bit more lovely and warn the pedestrians: I’m coming!!!
5. Giant Avail Advanced. This is my training bike which has proved to be good even for 170km a day. To make it better and more comfy the saddle and tyres have been transferred from Viktorija bike. Other biggest upgrade is Zipp wheels which have that lovely buzzing sound when freewheeling. Love it!