Hi I’m Gary,
Like many during lockdown I was looking for ways of keeping fit and active to balance my desk-based job and my daily ‘commute’ upstairs to my work-from-home office. Cycling ticked all the boxes for me: to get fit, to get fresh air and to explore Winchester and its surrounding villages and towns.
My family – my wife and I and our two very young children – moved to Winchester from Putney in September 2020. I have a relatively active lifestyle (hockey, running and the gym) but I never considered cycling while living in in London – the roads where we lived were too busy and unsafe either for commuting or for pleasure. And a drive or train ride into Surrey for some cycling was too much effort.
But that’s all changed since we moved to Winchester. I started off last winter training indoors with a smart turbo which I hooked up to a road bike kindly given to me by my father-in-law. I signed up to Zwift, an online cycling training site where users can interact, train and compete in a virtual world. It is perfect for anyone juggling a busy working life and a family. It has so many pre-programed training sessions as well as lots of challenges and virtual locations to explore, like New York.
As the weather improved, I started to take my cycling out onto the roads, exploring everything Winchester and the surrounding areas has to offer. We are surrounded by brilliant and interesting roads. Within 5-10 mins of my home in Fulflood, I am on a quiet country lane enjoying a great view or on the way to a coffee shop or pub! There are some fantastic mountain bike routes as well.
The mixture of rolling hills, flat sprint segments and climbs makes for a fun and varied playground. I am now out on the road 2 or 3 times a week. I get help from free apps like Komoot to plan routes and Strava to monitor my progress.
Whilst it has been brilliant, there are certainly initiatives that could be put in place to encourage me to cycle even more and more importantly to give my wife – and our kids as they get a bit older – the confidence to join me.
The one-way system is badly congested and really needs a dedicated cycle lane. If heading out east of Winchester I always do a big detour to avoid the town centre and I never consider using my bike when I go shopping; I either walk or, if feeling lazy, drive!
My 3-year-old son, George, has begun to cycle using his balance bike. He really needs more safe routes that he can use, in due course, to practice his cycling skills and transition to the road. Perhaps the old leisure centre car park could be converted to a training area for young cyclists. In time, I would love to cycle with him or to see him ride on his own to all the various activities he’s started to take up like rugby and swimming. We just need some safe and well-planned routes!