Varun started cycling as a way to get about when he was low on funds during his teacher training. He realised he could get rid of his car and instead use his bike which, as he said is “a million times more fun and a million times more engaging.”
“I just hate routine, it absolutely numbs my mind,” Varun said.
“I’ve got autism spectrum condition, I know that a lot of people with autism like routine, but I detest it. And for me being stuck in a car and doing the same commute, driving the same route over and over again was just mind numbing. And I realised that I didn’t have to do that.”
After Varun decided to switch to his cycle for his commute he didn’t look back. Now a qualified teacher working in a secondary school, he likes to think that by cycling to work, he’s showing the kids he teaches that it’s an option. He keeps his bike in the classroom and often gets questions about it.
The students see his bike every day and it tells them it’s possible to cycle to get around – driving isn’t the only option.
“I feel like I’m making a bit of a difference. I’m choosing not to take a motor vehicle on a journey I could be taking a cycle on. I’m not choosing to drive a car to the shops or to work and I just feel like I’m making the tiniest bit of difference as I go along.”
As well as finding a new, much more enjoyable form of transport, Varun has also found a community of people he can connect with. He has joined the New Forest Off-Road Club, a club that organises rides led by women and non-binary people.
“I’m a first generation immigrant and I have no family in the UK whatsoever and I’ve got a really small group of close friends, so before cycling they were the only people I knew.” Varun said.
“I found that as soon as I got into cycling that there was something of a common ground, that kind of brought me together with a load of people. It just makes me feel like I’m a little more part of something bigger really.”
He has also started competing in ultra races. “I’m really proud of the fact that I’m almost always the only Asian man and usually the only queer Asian man on the start line of all the ultra races I take part in. Regardless of what the result of any of the races are it just feels like I’m making something of a difference to raise visibility.”
You can find out more about Bikeability cycle training in your area here.