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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a cycling cat!

Robyn Davidson
21 Apr 2022

Meet the adorable cat riding around London with her owner, Travis Nelson

‘Try and be kind to people, there’s a lot of crap going on in the world.’

It’s not every day you get to interview a man helping bring some positivity to cycling with the help of his cat.

But Travis Nelson is often seen pedalling around with his furry feline through the streets of London.



Sigrid, a five-year-old Norwegian Forest cat, is used to the outdoor life. When she was younger, Travis would take her on walks, go camping, or even venture to the beach in San Francisco.

As Sigrid is deaf, she has a very expressive (read: loud) meow to let Travis know she wants to be let out while cycling.

 

Before going viral, Travis would spend time blacksmithing and making knives, plus working on restoring a classic car in storage, rebuilding the whole thing from the suspension to swapping out the engine.

The engine for the ’63 Chevy Nova is being used as a table stand for his laptop during our interview.

‘I came over from San Francisco for a job initially. It was right before Brexit and Covid, then I got made redundant when the pandemic hit.

‘I started riding my bike a lot in lockdown because there wasn’t much else to do. It was nice to get out and that led to the idea of getting Sigrid in a basket. It worked!’

The pair head out for a ride at least two to three times a week.

‘Sometimes it’s maybe a bit more, it depends. I don’t really ride by myself anymore unless I want to see something in particular.

‘Then I spend far more time than I’d like to admit like editing video footage, but I want to make that one minute on Instagram is as good as it can be.’

Nelson typically posts more on Instagram due to the drawbacks of TikTok’s algorithm.

‘I have 200,000 followers on TikTok, but if the algorithm decides it’s not cool or whatever, it’ll only get around 2,000 views. But if you post something on Instagram, you know your followers will see it in their feed.

‘It’s a different kind of audience. It’s less social media and more about sharing and presenting something.’

Travis and Sigrid ride for fun, but they also want to spread the joy to others. Especially at a time when we’ve all suffered over the past few years.

‘It gives me more of a purpose. Before I started riding with her, I was riding to kill time and then for fitness.

‘Now when I go out, it’s not really stressful. I like training, right? But the stress of that is gone now.

‘I go out to make people happy and just relax. My fitness has certainly suffered, but the fun has amped up.’

Cyclists receive a fair mix of reactions when out of the bike. Perhaps the secret to avoiding negativity or injury is for us to expense animals through work.

‘I think people probably give us a little more space and act a little nicer about it.

‘There was one case where a guy in a white van pulled up next to me at a light. He saw and commented on the camera and asked what I was filming for.

‘I said I had a cat and his mood just changed dramatically. It’s funny, tough guys like builders and van drivers tend to be the softest when it comes to meeting Sigrid.’

But one of the best interactions stems from a former Top Gear presenter…

‘We rode past Jeremy Clarkson one time. We didn’t stop and talk to him but that’s still one of my favourite interactions because he had such a look of confusion.

‘On Remembrance Day we ran into a group of soldiers who had been drinking all day. They were so excited to meet Sigrid and wanted to hold her and post photos.’

Travis has a Bengal too, called Yiva (meaning ‘she-wolf’), but doesn’t take her out on the bike like he does with Sigrid.

‘Sometimes she really likes to be outside, but she doesn’t like cars at all. I wonder if just her experience being around roads in the US has made her very cautious.

‘I'll take her down to the canal for a walk and then go to the park – she loves that.’

Ultimately the main message Travis and Sigrid try to spread is one of kindness and happiness.

‘Cycling is very diverse, a lot of different kinds of people cycle and every type of cycling is valid.

‘On top of that, just try and be kind to people and be happy because there’s a lot of crap going on.’


Photography: Travis Nelson via Instagram (@skintension)

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