cyclist tube

London Bike vs London Underground

So recently I found myself in a rather unique situation. My daily commute to work consists of me driving 40 miles from Berkshire, then parking up in West London, then biking to work the last 12 miles to East London. I use a pretty sweet free parking spot in West London that I found a few years back and on this one day whilst I was preparing my bike for the cycle ahead, I noticed another car pull up right behind me.


I saw the driver and immediately thought that he looked familiar. He came out of his car and I realised that it was one of my work colleagues. I’d never actually spoken to him before, but had seen him around. After some small talk it turns out that he lives in the same town in Berkshire as me and he said that he stumbled on the parking spot on his way into work one day (that’s my secret spot exposed then). He then said that he walks to the tube (London Underground) station and rides the district line to Aldgate East, which is a 2 minute walk from work. As I had done that exact journey including the parking, walking to the station and riding the tube, I thought this was an ideal situation to see if biking to work was the better choice, so I said to him “Race you to work”, and off we set.


Man and Cyclist


To be honest this was a few days into the week, and it got to the point where after a few days doing a 24 mile London bike roundtrip journey starts to take it’s toll, added to the fact that I am a shift worker who leaves home at 6 in the morning and arrives back at 10 at night. With this floating in my mind, I had started to think that days when I felt tired, riding the tube would be the better option in those low motivation and flagging situations.


The challenge that presented itself, definitely ignited something and made me want to win so I could justify (to myself) that cycling is the right choice for my commute to work.


Whilst on my journey I was trying to maintain a steady pace as I usually pull in my best overall journey time when I’m not trying to be King of the Mountain on Strava sections. It was just a shame that I had broken my odometer a week prior, so I had to gauge it by how much effort I was putting in and tried my best to maintain a consistent cadence. On the journey I struggled with maintaining the cadence as the route along the embankment that I take, always has me as part of the pack and somehow I always seem to be travelling faster than I wanted to be.


London commuting pelaton


I was constantly clock watching along the way, and did want Strava to deliver the goods when I finally reached work (force of habit). I had set off at 6.55 so was hoping to arrive at work around 45 minutes later.


The last part of my commute is always the hardest. I suppose it’s the anticipation of actually getting there, but on the way into work I have the Tower Hill climb and then navigating the one-way system, which is usually traffic riddled in the Aldgate area. If that wasn’t annoying enough another work colleague created the ‘Osborn Blast’ section (on Strava) on the road where our office is. The aim is for all of us that cycle in, hit this one section, then see who gets the King of the Mountain or closest to it. As it’s a flat out sprint, I wasn’t feeling as energetic so KOM was not happening for me on that day.


So I arrive, click ‘completed journey’ on Strava (of course) and head into my office. I’m looking around for my colleague and cannot see him anywhere. I’m wondering if he’s in the toilet or making a coffee. So I assume that I beat him, unless he shows up and tells me otherwise. Usually within a few minutes of arriving I’d pop into the shower, but I’m too keen to know the result of this experiment. A full 20 minutes after I arrived at work, he wandered in. I gave a smile and cemented the fact that cycling is definitely the better commuting option. The money saving and exercise gained was no new news, but now knowing that it’s faster, is what I think of when I am tired or needing some cycling motivation.


Do you have any interesting commuting stories? What do you do to keep motivated whilst commuting? Drop us a line or comment below.

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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”



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