What is a bicycle to you? How did you come to it?
To me, cycling is like flying, a sort of meditation, my hobby, my job. It is what I like the most. I am a group exercycling instructor, founder of fitness project IAMCYCLE. When I was working as a group coach, I thought that I wanted to become one of the best in step aerobics. But when I walked by the cycling training room looking at these iron horses, I thought it was so cool to spin pedals in a big room with 15–20 people in sync with the music! So once I tried it and realised it was what I needed! After that I never got off a bike. I immediately replaced a kick scooter that I used to ride on my way to work with a bike. It wasn't just a bike, it was a track bicycle. Bikes of this type have a fixed drivetrain with only 1 speed. They are called 'fixies'. They were adopted from track cycling for the city. Rather quickly, a new movement and subculture were formed. I got acquainted with many people who had fixies. We used to ride along the streets of Moscow together! It was great. This is how I got keen on this transport once and for all. Later, I bought a racing bicycle, went in for training and participated in various amateur competitions.
How often do you ride a bicycle?
In spring, summer and autumn, this is often a main means of transportation to me. Thus, I ride at least 20–25 km a day from home to work and back. When I go riding with friends, it is usually about 50 km. It is rather funny that while most people ride a bike to work because they spend the whole day in an office chair, I simply change a bike at work and ride in a gym. So, as I said before, I never get off a bike and it's no exaggeration.
Which is better: to ride alone or in a company?
I believe these are the two different types, different experience. I like to ride in a company. With my buddies or with my group. You keep it under control and yet feel relaxed. Riding alone is like meditation. On exertion, our body is stressed making our brain operate in a very different way. During a ride, I think over all my duties, plans. Sometimes I even manage to solve some problems that I couldn't solve or had no time due to daily routine and bustle.
Asphalt embankments or paths in a park
Mostly, I ride a racing bicycle. Asphalt and highway are its natural environment, of course. So I ride this type of surfacing the most. Apart from that, we organise trips to Sochi. We ride mountain bikes (MTB) and e-bikes, which are designed for mountains and rough tracks, through magnificent nature reserves of this lovely city. And it is a different sort of excitement. For example, you go up the hill for about an hour, gazing at the forest, its brooks and small rivers, and breathing fresh air. And then you joyfully go down the hill at a high speed. It is a specific kind of emotion. It's like flying. (laughs).
To a beginner, it would be better to pick an area where the traffic is low and with no motorways around. We used to ride in several Moscow parks. Gorky Park and its embankment, Olympiysky Park and Meshchersky Park. Of course, we obey traffic laws riding along the city streets.
Cycling culture in Moscow
Nowadays, the cycling culture is on the rise in Moscow. Many people go in for cycling. You can easily rent a bike anywhere you are. Many bike lanes are built. This is great! However, riding along the motorway is rather dangerous. Drivers do not always treat cyclers as fully legitimate traffic participants. It is, probably, one of the factors preventing people from going in for cycling in Moscow. This attitude is changing today but there is still a long way to go.
Morning or evening
For a promenade, I prefer late evening. The whole city is lit up. That's incredible!
On suits and equipment
My principal piece is a helmet. When I go for a long ride, I put on cycling shorts and shoes. When it is a short ride to run some errands, I only use a helmet.
Life hacks and recommendations
We often go to one of our favourite tea houses when riding with my friends. A chocolate bar and a cup of nice tea to cheer up and have a chat of how they spent their day.
5 recommendations to a beginner
Iconic buildings with interesting designs
Natali Lisapedova on a Cycling Culture in Moscow
Horizontal skyscrapers, cylinder-shaped houses, collapsible partitions and two-storey accommodation units
Architectural masterpieces of Moscow
Cycling through the renovated streets of Moscow
Four one-of-a-kind houses
On Moscow cycling community, comfort and safety
The route through the parks
The riddles from The Master and Margarita