[LIFESTYLE] Cycling to Work #ThisGirlCan

I used to be on my bike a lot, I used to run a lot, go to multiple gym sessions … all sorts. Various illnesses and issues meant that over the last few years I’ve really only done gentle walks, swims, and karate (I need to get back into that!) … but #ThisGirlCan… and I’ve been getting back on the horse… well, the bike!

Over the summer, I’ve been getting used to the bike again, with help from TFGM Cycling, including provision of a safe traffic-free-as-possible route on PlotARoute, and a confidence training session, and I’m also signed up for a maintenance training course, as I’ve been gradually equipping myself! Over the last 5 weeks I’ve been building up cycling into work, starting with one day, now onto 3-days a week, max will be 4.

My motivations … I was spending 45-60+ minutes commuting via train/bus/foot anyway – the bus spends a lot of time in traffic/at stops, and if I’m not spending money on other forms of transport, I can use it to hire my lovely cleaner, Sarah. I’m too tired of an evening to go to the gym, and not really enjoying it anyway without a buddy to go with, so also saving that ££ – and I can go to the Aquatics Centre for the odd swim!

Dave Walker, one of my favourite cartoonists, captures this pretty well here, and yes, I’m sleeping better too!

Dave Walker Cartoon
Used with permission @davewalker

This motivation (as I’ve been trying to get students to think about their motivations today, it’s on my mind!) has to keep me going through rainy days, cold days, buying extra bits of kit, and falling off the bike (so far, one fall into a very solid metal barrier, and an ‘unexpected stop’ into a kerb that left me tangled in the frame, and still rather purple from that (that was Friday) … have cycled the last couple of days without incident, and once I can sort RSI-type symptoms in my thumbs it’s actually quite pleasant … once you ignore smashed bits of glass in the road, crazy other road users, pavement users who don’t look before stepping in the road, etc..

First day back to cycle commuting after Friday’s accident. Waited for quieter roads!!

A photo posted by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

I’ve been playing with Strava as an app, as I like the social aspect to exercise (though getting to work feels very functional) – it disappointed me yesterday by giving the mileage 2-3 miles short, but otherwise it’s been interesting, and nice to get a thumbs up from other friends out and about!

I can put in swimming, hiking (although that confuses it), I don’t run so… but you can see where the big hikes are:strava-activity

At the end of each journey it generates a report like this, giving distance, time, speed, etc – and also seems to give awards for ‘Personal Record’ – gamifying exercise:


There’s a privacy setting on the app, where you can set boundaries for private areas, which the app shouldn’t show to your friends on Strava, and you can also share each route with Facebook (once you select, it defaults to sharing everything, so I’ve deselected that!). Once cycling becomes just an everyday event, maybe I’ll abandon the app – let’s see!

I’m also enjoying getting involved with hiking, having joined The Ramblers, particularly the Manchester Weekend Walkers, and anything that MMU organises… and for a less strenuous day, rejoined The National Trust.


Powerful video by James Cracknell

“On 20th July it’s exactly one year since James Cracknell was seriously injured in a cycling accident in America. His helmet saved him. James has made a short film to encourage others to wear cycle helmets. To show your support, pass the film to your friends and most importantly, when you’re out cycling, use your head. Use your helmet.”


Loire Valley Tomorrow

Dear all

I hope that you have a great couple of weeks. I will be wearing my “Keep Calm and Carry On T-Shirt”, and “Keep Calm and Carry On Apron” whilst I cook for 82 people on a campsite in the Loire Valley with Oak Hall, and as I then bike-sit, and drive down to Provence on the wrong side of the road, before coming back to get back on track with my projects.

Looking forward to taking up my 0.4 post as a Lecturer in History at the University of Winchester on my return, along with a number of projects to finish! And I suspect I may have a blog entry or two to do.. I’ve set a number up on my other blog: ww2poster!

Holiday Walking Thoughts

It’s my holiday week, although I still seem to be spending an incredible amount of time online, but this morning refused to get up until I’d finished reading Teri Hatcher’s Burnt Toast and Other Philosophies of Life (yes, I read fast, it’s a both a pleasure and an expensive hobby!)… which I found in the charity shop yesterday.

I was intrigued by the idea that the choices you make about eating burnt toast say so much about how you value yourself (or not) [big ideas that interest me are valuing, engagement, expectations, choice, learning!]. She questions whether you try to scrape off the black, smother it with jam to hide the taste, throw it away or eat it “because you’re willing to settle for less? Maybe you don’t want to be wasteful, but if you go ahead and eat that blackened square of bread, then what you’re really saying – to yourself and to the world – is that the piece of bread is worth more than your own satisfaction.”

Found the book really interesting, if over-emphatic in its desire to demonstrate that Teri is an ordinary woman… well, I guess she is, but there’s certain stories in the press that she’s taken the opportunity to squash! Found a lot to empathise with, and some practical ideas for moving forward! Don’t be prepared to spend another 10 years eating burnt toast…

Women & Cycling
I went for a beautiful walk in my favourite weather – sunny and breezy – and thought through some of what I’d read in the book, then generally emptied my mind! No chance to cycle as my bike is back in Winchester and I’m currently in Suffolk, but going through Monday’s Guardian (finally), and seen a big story which is pushing forward cycling as a new ‘fashion’ for women… even Top Shop are coming out with a range of cycling accessories! Sustrans has recently launched, to encourage women on bikes, and Bird on Bikes had it’s inaugural event earlier this year. The Guardian has definitely got people talking!