I’m Alison, and I use my bike to get about in Portsmouth for both chores and hobbies
How do you use your bike around Portsmouth?
Most mornings I get up before 6am to cycle down to Southsea for a sea swim and/or yoga at my gym. It’s about a 7 mile round trip. Occasionally I pop into the supermarket on the way home, the hairdressers, go for a coffee or just for the sheer hell of it, cycle to Old Portsmouth which adds on a few extra miles. It’s hard work on my heavy steel bike, especially loaded with wet swimming gear, two very heavy D-locks and a normal one.
One day last autumn I decided to take a look at the far end of Eastney. When I reached the ferry it happened to be there so I took a spontaneous trip across to Hayling Island and cycled home from there, again loaded with my wet gear & heavy locks.
A nice little adventure.
Most Saturday mornings I cycle to Park Run at Lakeside, North Harbour where I meet up with family who come from Waterlooville and Highbury so it makes sense to meet in the middle. It’s not a particularly pretty cycle in parts but it helps warm up the leg muscles before the run and keeps the legs moving on the way home.
What do you like about travelling by bike?
I love cycling my bike and at 6.30am it’s even better, especially when it starts really cold and dark and then the sun is rising. Sometimes as I’m cycling along, the street lights go out one by one as I reach them. On the way to Southsea I go the quick way as there’s not so much traffic at that time of the morning but on the way home I mostly take the more scenic route, along the seafront, through Bransbury Park and if it’s dry under foot (or wheel), I go via Milton Common which is lovely.
I’d much rather cycle to places than take the car, it’s a lot less bother, keeps me fit, helps the pollution problem too. I’m disappointed if it’s torrential rain and I have to go by car. At the gym car park you can only park for free for 90 mins, when I’m on my bike I can stay as long as I want and maybe participate in another class
What isn’t so great about cycling in the city?
I was lucky that I was given Willy (as in ‘Free Willy, because he was free) from a neighbour. Sadly there’s no way I would leave a good bike, even with the locks, outside the gym etc., which I think is what puts a lot of people off, but if you can, get an old bike (we call it a ‘pub bike’) just for these types of trips and you won’t be so disappointed if it’s not where you left it! My locks probably cost more than what my bike’s worth. Occasionally I go on my ‘good’ bike and that’s such a different ride altogether, so much easier. On Willy I just look like a slow old woman on a bike, on the other (I still look like an old woman on a bike) but in lycra and much faster.
What else would you like to add?
I used to cycle long distances but I haven’t done so in England for a few years, the most over here being around 60 miles now, but I love getting out into the countryside cycling up and down the hills. I regularly meet up with a friend, who also cycles, for lunch and a chat in a country tearoom near Chichester.
My adult children cycle too and have had many adventures abroad cycle touring together and alone, as have I. In fact, my daughter and I are planning a last minute trip for a couple of weeks’ time.
From the PCF Team
We thank Alison for sharing her story. She shows that if you travel by bike many options can open up to you. Whether it’s not worrying about whether your parking will run out, or deciding to take a scenic route home away from the traffic. A bike doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just get a good lock and enjoy the freedom.
Would you like to share your story about ordinary people doing ordinary things on their bikes in the city? We’d love to hear from you.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Bob Simcox