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Transforming the daily commute

amy with her bike

There truly is no better way to start your daily commute than an uplifting cycle ride or walk. You arrive at your destination feeling alert, energised and ready to take on the working day. It’s a fantastic way of keeping fit, and if you do it regularly you’ll save a small fortune, forking out less on petrol and gym fees, and leaving you with more cash to treat yourself.

We interviewed Amy Louise Christopher, a newly converted cycle commuter, about her new commuting habits for our e-magazine Active Commuter:

Name:
Amy Louise Christopher

Age:
26

Where do you live?
Grangetown, Cardiff (for the first three months of cycling to work I lived in Thornhill)

Where do you work?
Pacific Business Park, Cardiff

How long have you been cycling to work?
About six and a half months

Do you cycle every journey or sometimes use a different mode of transport?
My everyday journeys are done on my bike but if I am travelling further (e.g. London) I usually travel by coach or train.

How did you get to work before you started cycling?
When I lived in Thornhill I would get the train into town then walk the rest of the way. I used to drive to my previous job, which was a nightmare in rush hour traffic. Cycling into work is a much nicer way to start the day – you arrive feeling refreshed and energised, rather than sluggish and stressed.

What made you make the decision to cycle to work?
My friends who cycle! Plus the financial and fitness benefits.

Was it a difficult change to make? Why?
No, but the wind and rain does make it slightly challenging at times. The trick is to be prepared and always pack a waterproof jacket and trousers that can be worn over whatever you’re wearing. Or on the rainy days opt for another type of transport.

How do you dress for commute?
With the exception of waterproofs when it rains, I just wear my normal everyday clothes. I’m quite girly and love wearing dresses and skirts, so I’ll sometimes wear leggings underneath. I really don’t think that you need to wear cycling gear for shorter journeys, especially if you’re cruising at a leisurely pace like I do. My bike is quite girly too and I think it really compliments my dress style.

How long did it take you to get used to commuting by bike?
Quicker than I thought it would as I was cycling 6 miles each way which is a fair distance each day, maybe a few weeks. Initially I was a bit tired after cycling but it is surprising how quickly your fitness picks up. If the weather was particularly bad or I felt tired, I’d sometimes jump on the train for part of my journey. It’s good to have the option.

What do you enjoy the most about cycling to work?
The liberated and free feeling you get, plus you have to go to work anyway so getting fit while you do it is a bonus. Now that I live in Grangetown I also cycle down the Taff Trail for part of my journey which is a lovely scenic start to my day!

Any negatives?
Rain!

What are your three top tips for new cycling commuters?

  1. Buy a bike that you feel good on as well as it being practical (you would not wear clothes that you do not feel good in so why ride you do not feel good on).
  2. Invest in good wet weather gear (we live in the UK!).
  3. Do a dry run of your commute before your first day of cycling to work. This will help you find out any problems you may encounter, such as lots of traffic near a school.
  4. If you feel particularly unconfident cycling on the roads get cycle training. It’s really reasonable, and you can have as many lessons as you need tailored to your level of cycling.

Read our tips for cycle commuting with confidence.

Find out about planning your cycle routes.