Written by Claire who built her bike in 2015 and lives in London.
I’m starting to feel a little ahead of the curve and like I a seized a post Covid-19 opportunity five years early. Sick of public transport, my local tube station regularly closed until the volume of people on the platform had gone down, overcrowding, overheating, and the frustration and aggression of other passengers was no longer how I wanted to start each day. So I built a bamboo bike, as a functional - yet unusual - solution to get me to and from work. I am not a cycling enthusiast, and at first was a fair weather cyclist, continuing to endure the tube when it rained. But I have hardened up, invested in a good mac, and for the last few years come rain, wind, storms and snow (even the “Beast From the East” of 2018 didn’t stop me!), I have become dedicated to my bike commute. Not only do I avoid public transport, I manage to sneak exercise into my day without actively thinking about it, and once spring arrives I feel genuinely smug about starting and ending each working day outdoors on the bike!
However, I have been working from home since mid March and my twice daily cycle has now become redundant... so I’ve had to contemplate going for an actual bike ride. A bike ride with absolutely no purpose; no predetermined end point, no time I need to be somewhere, no office at the end of it! I started tentatively, by using my bike to do a food shop, but as the lockdown weeks have passed, my mind-set has changed and I am now enjoying simply going for a solo cycle. Largely stuck inside all day, it provides a much needed sense of freedom and escapism. It is the perfect outlet for exercise, and allows my entire body to move from its otherwise largely sedentary position. The roads are much quieter than usual, even less congested than the pavements (currently full of joggers) and the busy canals. I am getting to know my local area much better, by cycling slower, taking a slightly different route or one road parallel each time, and having the time to notice a pretty street of houses, the blossom coming out, or an eccentric doorway. It has also been interesting witnessing the changes to the local area, as pubs, restaurants, and café’s that would ordinarily be buzzing by Spring-time have remained closed, what were pubs a couple of months ago morphing into shops selling vegetables, fruit and other essentials, and sharing the roads with largely empty buses and police on horses rather than traffic. Cycling solo also means that I can pick the route, be spontaneous and change the route if inclined to, go at my own pace, stop to take photographs, and have some much needed time and mental head-space to think (or indeed not think). As and when the lockdown eases and life returns to some form of normality, my bamboo bike rides are certainly something I’ll be sticking to for pleasure not just functionality!