Words by Olga Shevchenko, MSc Applied International Development.
Reading may not seem like the most exciting place for cyclists – it’s hilly, has limited cycling routes and the roads, unfortunately, could use some serious maintenance. The drivers are also not as used to cyclists as they are in some other countries, like Germany and the Netherlands. Despite all of that, there are good reasons to be a cyclist whilst studying in Reading.
First is the amazing support the university offers. This support includes bike rentals and second-hand bike sales. You could rent a bike for as little as 10 pounds a term and get a free lock and a pair of lights. If you’ve got your own bike, university is regularly offering maintenance events.
There are also the cycling lessons, offered to students and staff for free. They are for all the levels: you could also learn how to cycle, even if you never been in a saddle. If you are an experienced cyclist but unsure about the road rules in the UK, there are training for this as well. For this and for more info on maintenance and bike rentals please see the university sustainability website at https://sites.reading.ac.uk/sustainability/travel/cycling/.
When you are set with both the bike and the confidence to ride it in Reading and the UK, you could start discovering exciting places around. My personal favourite is a ride to Silchester, a settlement about 13 miles down south from Reading. The ride will take you about one hour and will partly be on the National Cycle route 23. In Silchester you could see the remains of what once the old Roman wall was, and the cycling path there will offer you spectacular views of the English countryside.
Another suggestion is to cycle to Mapledurham to see a watermill. The route is about 10 miles long and includes some beautiful countryside alongside as well. On our trip there we stopped by the llama’s farm – so cute!
There is also the picturesque village of Sonning where you could get in about 15-20 minutes from campus by bike. It is also worth walking there along the river Kenneth. There is a quit shared path along the river that starts at the Reading city centre and ends around Sonning. My only complaint about Kenneth River side path is that it’s too short!
Based on my experience, I would strongly suggest you get two wheels and keep them working in Reading and around – it’s fun and eco-friendly.