It’s Thursday again, which can only mean one thing: time to put another fellow cyclist under the spotlight as part of London Cycling Diary’s ongoing "cycling 10" series. This time it’s Rodney Olsen’s turn to step up to the plate — or the starter’s blocks, as the case may be.
How long have you been commuting by bicycle, and what made you decide to do it?
I didn’t even learn to ride a bike until I was 16, but it
was back then that I first started commuting by bike. I didn’t commute
by bike all that regularly and the cycling stopped when I got my
license and a car at 17. I guess I cycled because I couldn’t drive.
I started to regularly commute by bike some years later and
for a while it was still a mixture of riding and driving. I guess I’ve
now been commuting only by bicycle for around 10 years.
Can you give a brief description of your route?
route at the moment is far too short. I live about 6.5km away from the radio station where I work. I did work in the
city for a while and I had a daily round trip of around 27km. When the radio station moves in about a year I’ll have a
round trip of around 30 to 35km. I’m very much
looking forward to the extra distance.
The route I travel takes me along a couple of busy roads but
no major traffic routes. The road surface is good and there are a few
places on the journey where there’s little or no traffic.
get myself out of bed early enough in the morning I take a detour and
ride around 34km before I start work. When I do that,
I cycle through the wine-growing area of the Swan Valley, then a couple
of semi-rural areas, past paddocks of cows, sheep and horses. It’s a
magnificent way to begin the day.
What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle?
by bike gives me a ‘buffer zone’ between home and work and then between
work and home. The cares and concerns of each place can be left behind.
It means that I can give myself fully to my family life at home and
fully to my work life at work. It also gives me some time to myself. I
love my family dearly and try to be with them as much as possible, but
I’m naturally a loner. Having a daily dose of being on my own on my
bike satisfies the need I have for being alone.
And the worst?
The worst part of commuting by bike
is the small percentage of motorists who have no idea what they’re
doing on the road. I pass or get passed by hundreds of drivers every
day and most of them are great but that small percentage means that
every week and sometimes every day I need to take steps to avoid
someone else’s stupidity.
What sort of bike do you ride?
ride a road bike when I commute. It’s an aluminium frame, 18 speed. I
also have a mountain bike which is handy if I discover a flat tyre on
my road bike two minutes before I’m about to leave for work.
What’s your favourite piece of cycling kit/clothing/gadget?
wife bought me a remote control for my iPod Mini some time back. It
fits onto my handlebars and lets me control the iPod in my back pocket.
I listen to songs on shuffle while I’m riding, so it’s essential to have
volume control to level out the various songs recorded at varying
Helmet or no helmet?
are compulsory throughout Australia but I used to wear one even before
it became law. I don’t fancy the prospect of scooping up my brains off
the road if I should ever take a serious tumble.
Cycle lane or no cycle lane?
aren’t any cycle lanes on my current commute, but when the radio station
moves I’ll spend a lot of time on some very nice dual-use
Are you a member of any cycling organisations/clubs? If so, which ones?
I’m not really a member of any cycling organisations but
I have done a lot of riding with Bike for Bibles, raising money for
literacy projects in developing countries. I’ve cycled across Australia
five times as well as cycling in Canada and a couple of times in India.
Each of those were fund-raising ventures as well as being amazing life
What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to get on board their bike?
drive or get a lift to work only two or three times a year for various
reasons. On those days I become incredibly aware of just how much
energy I’m lacking. Commuting by bicycle gets my body and mind ready
for the day ahead. If you’re looking to get more out of your working
life you should seriously consider starting your day right — with a
good bike ride. You’ll feel and look better for the effort.
Rodney Olsen, 43, is a radio announcer in
Perth, Western Australia. He is married with two children. His blog about life,
faith and family is at www.rodneyolsen.net