Here in the TWC office, it’s blasphemous to even think about driving, and arriving sweaty in the morning is positively encouraged. But I remember the pain of being the only cyclist in the office. It’s a life full of trails (geddit?) and tribulations.
So I’ve compiled this list of horrible situations that are brought on by being the only commuter in the workplace. Perhaps through sharing my anger and embarrassment, I can reach catharsis. Or, failing that, we can all just have a giggle.
1. Sharing the lift
You know you should take the stairs. But hey, you just cycled into work and deserve a bowl of something delicious and carbohydrate-based. The only way to get to the correct floor comfortably is via the elevator. Slight problem: you stink.
The sweat patches on your jersey are huge and your fellow travellers are pressing themselves up against the walls to get an inch further away from your aroma. Even clamping your arms to your sides won’t help – you’ve just gotta suck it up, hope that the redness on your face passes for exertion rather than sheer embarrassment, and pray no one gags as they enter the lift.
And it's always the most manicured, coiffured and generally glamorous woman in the office that's standing beside you. Add to that the sometimes necessary extra of taking your bike up to the office via the Steel Box of Cringe (hiked up on the rear wheel, precariously balanced an inch away from your bosses’ cheek) and you’ve got a full week of avoiding eye contact ahead.
2. Getting caught...
When starting a new job, there can be a tendency to over-egg your cycling prowess. You think it’s harmless to tell a few fibs, because no one else knows anything about bikes and you could be an up-and-coming road cycling superstar for all they know. And Lizzie Armitstead is soooo actually your training partner!
Then, a couple of weeks down the line, you’re caught red handed locking your hybrid up against a lamp post. Oh no! All has been revealed – you tried a proper road bike once but you much preferred the sofa-like nature of something Dutch. And you may have over-stated your relationship with Lizzie Armitstead slightly. By suggesting you have one.
3. Leaving your sweaty underwear in the bathroom
Unless your office is kitted out with showers, you will be familiar with the ‘Communal Bathroom Cycling Dance’. Much like the famed New Zealand Haka, it involves a lot of squatting, looking awkward and making exasperated noises as you change out of your lycra. Extra points are awarded if you refrain from dropping your socks down the toilet as you peel them off your cheesy feet.
Perhaps you have managed to change clothes in a tiny cubicle for many years without leaving your pants on the floor. I, however, have not. None of my colleagues told me that they had seen my pants on the ground… but they were lying there for the entire day. They weren’t even nice ones (Marks and Spencers, washed too many times. You know the sort).
4. Lycra: the first encounter
If you manage to avoid bumping into colleagues before you change in the morning, some of them may be none the wiser that you are a cyclist until that fateful day when they first catch you in lycra.
You can tell they’re trying to hide the look of shock, intrigue and judgement that’s sweeping across their face… but it’s too late. You have seen the surprise at your lumpiness register already. The discovery that you are into a form of exercise that hasn’t been recommended by Harper’s Bazaar, and that you can’t do without sweating (seriously – how do people return from Pilates not being sweaty?), will change things forever. You are now the 'sporty' girl in the office. You will receive cycling-themed gifts each Christmas until you die.
5. Backpack clumsiness
The only thing I miss about commuting via public transport is that I could fit pretty much everything I needed for the day in a handbag or tote. Now I carry a gigantic backpack that is the size of a tall toddler (really – I’ve measured it against one). It enables me to transport a laptop, a lunchbox, a towel, a change of clothes including a sweater or wooly jumper, a d-lock, a multi-tool, a puncture repair kit, a raincoat, some shampoo, a hairbrush, some make-up, a purse and a time machine (sometimes).
It’s huge. This means my total circumference is increased dramatically when walking around, and I often knock over piles of magazines, expensive technical equipment and food-stuffs. Being the only cyclist in the office is like having this song as the soundtrack to your life.
What's the worst reaction a colleague has had to your red-faced, sweaty self? Let us know in the comments below!
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