I know from the messages that I am receiving that you’re enjoying the interview series as much as I am! This week we’re heading to another great city and someone who gets around it on two wheels. This week I am pleased to be joined by London Cyclist Andreas Kambanis. I love finding out about new ways for people to get outside in the city and Andrea’s blog really shows you how to make the most of cycling in London.
London Cyclist Andreas is a true outdoors fan who loves cycling (obviously!), hiking, whitewater rafting and swimming. The latter definitely has something to do with his amazing Grandma!
The thing that I especially like about Andreas’ blog is that he’s not about being a pro and even though he’s based in London, his tips work for other cities too.
So without further ado, I’ll go straight into my interview with Andreas so you can discover more about him, cycling in London and what makes him tick. Plus a sneaky tip about eating more cake!
Hi Andreas, thank you for taking some time away from your wheels and screen to join me for my interview series. We’ll start off nice and gently with an easy one. Can you describe yourself in one sentence, please?
I alternate between being an adventure travel addict, travelling from the Canadian mountains to hanging with penguins in Antarctica and, at other times, a workaholic, living in London.
That sounds like a very busy (and fun!) life you have there. There must be something about getting outside that helps you keep that balance. What is it about spending time outdoors that you enjoy?
I like that it clears my mind. When you’re pushing yourself to climb a mountain or doing a marathon swim, you’ve really not got time to think about anything else. Before you realise, you’ve gone from worrying about work, to having a huge smile on your face. I also love those moments when you see something and you just pause in complete awe of it.
Ah ha! You definitely do have a balance going on there and I have to agree that getting outside is a great way to clear your head and put a huge smile on your face. What is your first memory of having a love for the great outdoors?
I lived in Greece when I was young and have such a vivid memory of visiting family in England for the first time. It was just so green everywhere! As soon as we arrived I had to go outside and play in the grass.
We most certainly are lucky to have so much green over here (something to do with our plentiful rain!) Playing in the grass is definitely a good start, but when did you really start getting into outside activities?
I have a crazy Greek Grandma who’s 82 years old and has been swimming everyday for the past 20 years. For us as kids there was no choice, we’d have to swim a minimum of 1 km a day. Even now when I visit her in Greece, as soon as I land off the plane she’ll ask: “Have you got your swimming trunks? Good, we’ll get a swim in first and then I’ll take you home.”
Your Grandma sounds amazing, Andreas! What a superstar – I’m guessing that she has been a great influence on you! So as well as cycling, what else do you get up to outdoors-wise?
Hiking, cycling, swimming, white water rafting
That’s a good mixture of activities. Are there any that you love to do but aren’t so good at?
Hiking, cycling, swimming, white water rafting
Ha ha! There’s nothing wrong with that and thank you for being so honest! (see! you don’t have to be a pro to get out there, have some fun and do the things that you want to be trying!) I think we’re all getting to know our sports and activities and there is always plenty more to learn. I think it’s a great place to be. There must have been some challenges along the way, which has been your greatest to date?
We did the 3 peaks challenge recently and accomplished it in… 25 hours! It was mainly tough due to the hours and hours spent in the mini-bus travelling between the different peaks. The climbs themselves were great fun.
Well done! I know it is not an easy hike and it is easy to forget the travel between the peaks. I still think that is a great achievement. A lot of challenges come with lots of fun and some mishaps too, can you share any stories from your other challenges?
I cycled from Birmingham to London some years back along the Grand Union Canal. It was a really great experience. Despite packing everything but a bike pump! When we got a puncture and realised it’s the one thing we’d left from our kit bag, we felt rather silly. The scenery is beautiful and there’s something quite wonderful about travelling between these two major cities and staying almost the entire way on the canal.
Whoops! Sometimes it is the most obvious things that we forget – I’ve tried to go camping without food or cooking kit in the past! That definitely sounds like a fantastic challenge though and one that I would like to try one day. – I’m a big fan of canals, so pretty and serene.
I know that a lot of people would love to get out cycling but find it a bit daunting to do it in the city, what are your three top tips for anyone wanting to start out?
Cycling is such a great way to get around London. Quick, easy, cheap. However, a lot of people are put off because it feels unsafe. There are some essential things to know about safe cycling:
- First up, briefly glance over your shoulder regularly. This brings a drivers attention to you and gives you an awareness of the traffic around you.
- Second, don’t ride really tight with the pavement. You’ll find that drivers often give you the same space you give yourself on the left. It’s tempting to hug the pavement as you ride, but it’s not safe, as it gives you no space to move in if there’s an obstruction or a driver is passing you too close.
- Third, don’t undertake lorries because they have enormous blind spots and they may not see you or they may turn in to your path unexpectedly.
Definitely some great tips, thanks Andreas. Having cycled in Manchester, I can honestly say that making sure you’re visible to lorries and buses is so important! I have never cycled in London and think I might give a ‘Boris bike’ a go next time I’m down and need a break from wandering on foot.
What would you say to someone who was a bit reluctant or new to spending time outdoors? How could you persuade them to give it a go?
Spending time outside is a chance to get some exercise in, and exercise burns calories, which means you can eat more cake.
Brilliant! Simple and effective. I am sure that would make a great strap line! How about you though, how do you stay motivated to get out there when it is cold, dark and damp, especially being that you grew up in Greece?
I’m a bit odd – I love the cold, wet winters, as much as I love the hot, sunny summers, so I’m happy either way. Plus, I like to stay fit, and I’m not going to let a bit of rain and cold get in the way of that. A nice snug warm coat helps!
You’re certainly a guy after my own heart, all-weather is great weather as long as you have the right gear I say – especially a snug coat for the very cold days. And to come to an end of my grilling, what prompted you to start a blog about your outdoor fun?
It has been a pleasure to interview you and feature you on my blog, Andreas and I hope that it will inspire others to dust down their bikes and get out on the city streets (saving money and getting fit at the same time) Once I replace my bikes I’m definitely going to get adventuring on the roads and you have inspired me to grab a blue bike and see the world on the roll for a while. Thank you again, Andreas and I hope to interview you again in the future – and perhaps get an interview with your super Grandma for the blog too! (hint, hint!)
To find out more about London Cyclist Andreas Kambanis, you can find him in the following places: