This year I surpassed some pretty modest goals. I started the year on a heavy ’90’s Mountain bike and have ended it on a ‘cross bike that I bought through a salary sacrifice scheme. When I got the bike in April, I felt like Chris Hoy such was the effect that the reduced weight had on my rides. No longer was I plodding along, busting a gut to get speeds of 24kph out of the old beast. I could now cruise at those average speeds without even trying, covering twice the distance and feel no more tired. In fact, now that it’s winter, I’m doing those speeds with a little more effort by my cold legs and this must have something to do with the relatively recent discovery of my new best friends-the big chain ring & the layer formula, not to mention a reasonably mild autumn (well, down in the East anyway).
So I caned my 3000km target this year having ridden over 5000km of which nearly all have been “commuting”.
In fact, I’ve done over 4000km on the new bike since early April.
Now I won’t lie to you, I cannot ride the same route every day-I’d get bored. So I do tend to go out on longer rides to get to and from work; Due to Dad’s taxi doing the school run, I can only commute twice a week. Until I found an app produced by a well known orange and black branded UK motor vehicle parts and cycle store, I had the calculator out working out how much I’d “saved” with each trip by calculating the distance of my car trip to work and back rather than my longer cycle journeys. I’m not sure how accurate it is (apparently I use £7.11 of petrol for each round trip, roughly 25.1 miles/38.5 km) but it’s convenient & allows a no fuss method to work it out. The only problem is that I prefer to use km, not the miles that this app uses but that’s OK as it calculates the petrol savings for me as it uses the shortest route based on the post codes that I enter.
So using this method to track my “savings”:
- 58 work commutes = £412
- 15 school commutes = £43 (this is when I drove the car on the school run, left it parked & rode home & back again to collect the boys).
- + other trips that I made on the bike rather than drive (the pub run and supermarket mainly)=£34
Total petrol saved =£489
- Minus £120 for repairs and maintenance & £50 per month salary sacrifice = £370
Grand total= £119
Its not very scientific I know and I have probably spent more than my “savings” on cycle clothes and food to fuel my body. I will use the app in 2015 for commuting distances again and provide a monthly analysis if only to keep track in my increasingly busy life.
What commuting did allow me was a greater presence to my routes and how the changing seasons and wildlife. I have managed to avoid 2 live badgers (and only seen 1 dead one on the side of the road), saw loads of healthy looking skittish bushy tailed foxes & have become used to the meandering cows as they greet me on Woodside Green on my early summer rides.
In July I joined a local group & headed up to watch part of stage 3 of TdF 2014. 2 hours of waiting was followed by a “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” moment as 2 riders were followed by the peleton 2 minutes later. I loved the short ride down to Finchingfield afterwards on traffic free roads. I joined the masses, got myself a beer and a hotdog and watched the race on a big screen on the green. What a day! I’ve still got the full recording saved and that arrow is pointing at me about an hour after the start…
Aside from that enduring memory and the revolution within the melon committee that banishes thoughts of driving in uncomfortable weather, one of my enduring memories are the family rides
They’re short 10km spins up to the pub and back and sometimes rides home from school and what warms my heart is that the boys actually WANT to do it with little direct influence from me. OK, so I actively plant the seeds in their impressionable heads-they see it as normal for me to ride to work these days and the little comments below inserted at opportune moments are having a promising effect:
- “when you’re older boys you’ll be able to go out and ride by yourselves…”
- “…I didn’t have to rely on my Mum and Dad to take me places because I could get there on my bike…”
- “when I was your age boys I was out on my bike all day exploring during the holidays…”
- “Cycling gives you such freedom…”
Ben who is only just turned 10 is even talking of riding to and from school when he’s at senior school (insert maniacal laughter here…).
So it’s been a grand year on the bike and 2015 is looking equally so. Goals to be posted later. Happy New Year everyone!