Commuting is a breeze on the Brompton
Neil Mitchell lives in Yarm and normally commutes to Stockton by bike for his job at Stockton Borough Council. Neil can often be seen buzzing about one of his three bikes, but still doesn't call himself a cyclist! We asked him why...
What sort of cyclist would you say you are?
I’m not sure that I would class myself as a ‘cyclist,’ I’m a person that uses a bike to get around and occasionally for fun with my mates. My bike is my main form of transport on a day-to-day basis. I cycle to work, the shops, to meetings and site visits, so if I were to categorise myself I would say that I am predominantly a utility cyclist. I do pop out for a leisure ride on the weekends either by myself or with friends.
What kind of bike do you ride and do you have lots of kit?
I have three bikes. I generally ride a utility bike that I built 10 years ago, it features dynamo lighting, hand-built wheels and luggage racks front and rear. My other bikes are a folding Brompton bike which I use if I have to travel by train or bus and a lightweight, Carbon Road bike which is lovely and very fast!
What do you like best about riding a bike?
I love the freedom, headspace and practicality of riding a bike. I can have a tough day at work and by the time I have arrived home I will have worked out all of my frustrations. It’s a great place to think and reflect.
I suppose I ride a bike because I have a lazy attitude, I really cannot be bothered trying to find a place to park a car and to get it serviced. I also dislike the associated costs. I tend to do my own maintenance and I love the simplicity and efficiency of the humble bicycle. It is also a very efficient way of living as you keep fit whilst travelling.
What are the downsides of riding a bike and how do you get around them?
The weather is definitely a downside but on a warm summer day, there is really no other way I would prefer to travel. The wind and rain do tend to get annoying and although I have pretty good waterproofs I do accept that I am going to get a touch damp!
Is there anything you would say to someone who was thinking about riding a bike?
Do not do too much until your body gets used to it. If you are going to commute to work start by trying twice a week. If the weather is horrible and you don't fancy it, don't worry about it. Your legs will take a little while to adapt (as well as the more tender parts!). If you do decide you like it invest in a good bike, if you are working the bike to work scheme is an excellent place to start.
Try an electric bike, you still get a workout but they really help on a windy day or in a hilly environment.
Overall, I would say give it a go and look at a cycle confidence course. There are some wonderful places to ride in the Tees Valley and there are a lot of organisations that will help with skills and confidence.
If you'd like to find out more about traveling by bike, including how to get help cycling with a Bike Buddy, check out the cycling information section!