“My boyfriend had been cycling for over a decade in London. He occasionally goes off and does random adventures on his bike, and decided to cycle from London to Paris. I thought ‘I like Paris, I like France, I speak French’ and cycling from London to Paris sounded like it might involve cheese and wine, which I also like. So I decided to go for it.”
Cycling to work was a way to prepare for the ride, but having not cycled since childhood, and facing a commute through central London, preparation was all important.
“Starting cycling in London was really scary! My local borough council, Lambeth, does subsidised training and maintenance classes, and my first cycle from my house in Stockwell to the initial training session in Clapham Common was terrifying!
But the one-on-one tuition was amazing. They took me down quiet roads, showed me how to signal, and how to position myself in the road, and then did the same on busier roads, giving me feedback on how I was doing. That really helped to build my confidence.
I’ve not had any accidents on my bike. The massive bulk of my riding has been problem free.”
It’s one thing signing up for an adventure to keep you motivated, but often quite another when it comes to gearing up for a rainy commute. Apart from the health benefits, Chloe found journey mapping application Strava a very useful tool.
“I started using Strava to record how far I’d gone: because I have a smartphone that was an easy way of doing it.
I like the fact that it feeds back on your personal records on particular parts of your route. I do do the competitive thing in as much as if I’m in the top ten at the end of my ride, that’s kind of awesome, because I’ve never been a sporty person that the thought that I could be top 10 of anything is kind of amazing. If I get a QOM I’m happy all evening.”
After cycling first to Paris, then 3,000km over the course of 2014, it’s safe to say Chloe has no intention of returning to public transport any time soon.
“When my TFL tube pass came up for renewal I didn’t bother, and now just cycle most of my journeys. Five or six days a week I’ll be on my bike.
Considering I was pretty inactive for 33 years of my life, it’s all the more astonishing that I’ve covered 3,000km. That’s the equivalent of cycling to Istanbul!
I’ve got the bug, definitely. This year I’m even organising a group ride from Marseille to Genoa, in the sunshine.”