Hi! We're Cynthia and Sabina from La Ciclista Café in Sheen. We opened La Ciclista last year aiming to support the local cycling community with a coffee shop with bike parking and yummy treats!
We're both already cyclists, but with the opening of our new venture as well as Cynthia having two young children and Sabina having teens at home, cycling as part of our everyday lives has taken a back foot.
When we were approached to take part in this exciting challenge, we both believed that this was the little kick we needed to get back in the saddle and ditch the car.
So we ditched our cars for a week each, and this is what happened.
Day 1: Sabina "To and from work"
Successful venture to and from home to work abode, a few obstacles getting out of the house - two parked cars, one skip, numerous bags of rubble and various pallets strewn about.
Pulled up next to half a dozen other cyclists by the train barriers and was greeted by envious stares eyeing up the gorgeous Trek.
Felt very virtuous 'cycling' up Sheen Lane overtaking stationary cars and lots of irritated drivers stuck in traffic.
This bike is a thing of beauty!
Parked inside the shop because, well, why not show it off?
I realised quite quickly that I needed some panniers to carry items, as a backpack doesn't quite replace the boot of a car! So the Richmond Cycles team helped me out and provided me with a great pair of Ortlieb panniers.
Day 2: Sabina "Husband's Birthday Treat"
Day two was my husband's birthday so he got to ride the (read in a Gollum voice) precious bike. We rode to a special place in Richmond for his birthday brunch, I had to ride his "normal" bike and felt it hard to keep up with him wizzing on the Allant +.
We didn't use the car all day and it felt great not to pay for parking, not struggle to find a parking space and not be stuck in traffic. We locked the bikes outside in our sight as we didn't feel 100% comfortable leaving a bike out that was on loan to us. If (when) I will get my own e-bike, I will invest in a good lock and get it insured to avoid any worries.
Day 3: Sabina "Shopping time!"
Armed with my two panniers, I went to do my food shop. I would usually use the car for this and do a big weekly shop, but I felt that going with the e-bike I was more conscious with what I put in my basket. Not only I saved money on petrol and miles, I actually made a conscious effort to shop for what I needed.
Pasta, pesto, Sagrato wine and cheese, did I mention I was half Italian?
I have been using the bike to go to and from our café everyday now and it feels great to get there quickly and efficiently. Overtaking traffic and getting a workout at the same time. For those who don't know, those bikes aren't press go and go, they are pedal assist, meaning you still get some exercise, you just don't dread Richmond Park's hilly side.
Day 4: Cynthia "Taking the kids to school and testing the e-bike out in Richmond Park"
I took the brave step from my first day on the bike to take the kids to school. As a mum of two eight year old twins, it was quite interesting to take them to school without using the car. I opted for the kids to be on scooters as I was able to pack them away easily in the panniers. Usually, schools allow kids to keep the bikes on the premises but due to the Covid restrictions, we weren't able to do that.
I then took the bike out to Richmond Park. As a keen cyclist, the park is somewhere I was quite familiar with so I was looking forward to giving it a run for its money.
You can see my experience from the video below. My verdict: I love this bike, it's smooth, fast and easily manoeuvrable. It helps conquer the hills with ease. Downsides? On the flat, it can feel slow and sluggish if you are used to riding a road bike with slim tires.
Day 5: Sabina "Watching the offspring race in the Pairs Head"
Today was my day off so I was able to use the bike for the whole day to run various errands which I would normally use my car for. As a mum of teen children, I would normally take them to their friends (pre-tier 2) but this time, I told them to walk or take the bus, because mum's got an e-bike to ride!
What I've particularly enjoyed was being able to wizz past traffic in the Richmond area, not look for nor pay for parking and get a huge sense of freedom.
When I rode over the bridge, I was able to watch the offspring race in the Pairs Head and as a keen rower, I was very excited to be able to stop and watch. This is something I would never have done with the car, just stop and watch. In fact I feel like the bike has given me a strong sense of freedom and brought colour to my commutes thanks to the sounds, the smells (not always good) and the views.