She’s cycled 3,000km over the course of a year. But she’s only just started to consider herself a ‘cyclist’. And she’s done it all on a £100 second-hand bike.
Like an increasing number of women in the UK, Chloe got back on her bike after a break of nearly 20 years, having last ridden when she was 13 years old. Two years on, and not only has she cycled the equivalent distance of riding to Instanbul, it’s safe to say that cycling has become an every day part of life for her.
But this massive mileage isn’t the result of charity ride, sportive or challenge. This is the distance she’s covered simply cycling to work.
“At the beginning of last year I set myself the goal of trying to encourage myself to cycle into work more than 3 days a week. If I cycled into work and back 3 days a week, that added up to 45km.
So I made myself a secret target of 60km and I didn’t really think about what that would look like over the year, I just had it in my head that each week I would aim to do roughly that. If I did a bit less one week, I’d do a bit more the following week.
Then halfway through November I looked at my Strava profiles and I had something like 2,720km so far that year. I thought ‘Oh my god! If I just push myself a bit up until Christmas I could probably make it to 3,000km.’ And I did!”
With average journey times in London by train and bus taking 10 minutes, and the cost of public transport rising, encouraging more people to go by bike is a priority for charities such as Sustrans. And Chloe’s experience goes to show that switching modes of transport can have a big effect not just on your physical fitness, but also your mental health.
“I think the biggest ride I’d done last year was 50 or 60 km. But all of those little journeys, to work, to the supermarket, to gigs, to see friends, to pop into the city, they all add up. It shows you the kind of distances you have to cover living in a city like London, but also that you can convert that into fitness benefits which is surprising.
Broadly speaking it helps me manage my weight, and I feel strong and active. It’s probably had a bigger effect on my mental health. It gives me that decompression space between work and home, and going through greenery and having a bit of contact with what the seasons are doing – it’s really good for the soul.”
Events and charity rides are often the catalysts that drive people to pick up their bikes again, and Chloe is no different. What is unusual is the scale of her first endeavour.