I have my health for a start and at a high level for my age of nearly 50 considering that I spent my youth drinking and smoking my way to an early grave. The seeds of the idea of riding my bike to work came late to me in the summer of 2011. At the turn of that year, I was fat, overweight (110kg) and desperate to lose it and become fitter. It was a mid life crisis of sorts. So I decided on the couch to 5km running challenge, downloaded the programme and set off in the cold & dark early mornings of January to make that change. I also started to eat more healthy and mindfully. Except that I started to run as if I was 18 again, unbeatable and indestructible. It took a couple of weeks to strain my calf which laid me up for a further 2 weeks of frustration and delay. I started again only to succumb to the same injury.
It was then that I remembered my old beat up MTB in the shed. Desperate to burn calories I started to ride it along the converted railway path at the back of our house. I wasn’t fast and I didn’t go far but I was reminded of my teens and early adult years riding a 2nd hand 10 speed to and from school and uni before I had my driver licence. It wasn’t until I switched on the tele one day and came across the TdF and the stage where a rider crashed, gouging his jersey and a fair amount of his skin on a barbed wire fence. He just got back on a rode to the finish! That riders guts and determination inspired me. I was hooked and followed that Tour to the end. One Sunday while out for a post lunch ride, I took a wrong turning and got lost. I made it home and was pleased with the 35km, my longest ride. Once I knew how far I could go, I started going further on my Monday day off (at the expense of the garden). Then one day during a ride I thought, “Wait a minute, how far is it to ride to work and back?”. A look on an online map when I got back told me that the shortest route is only 19km. I was already doing over twice that on a Monday so the distance seemed easily achievable. There is a cycle change facility at work so once I got the building code, investigated getting a locker and tested the shower I was ready to ride in and back one day a week out of a possible 4.
Little did I know what I was actually doing. I had no idea that I would end up saving £9.50 per day doing something that I actually like doing. That is the cost of the round trip in petrol and car parking. I quickly realised that I only had to leave home 30min before I left by car. I now aim for 3 or 4 commutes per week A year later when I purchased a new bike through the cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme, I did realise what I had started. I was now getting between 6-8hours per week of cardiovascular exercise and it is a part of my daily routine. So much so that I consider that this is normal as do my family and work colleagues. Although a number of people think that I may have a screw loose when I cycle into work during what is to them awfully cold, wet or windy weather. The added benefit of fitness allows me to compete with and outperform many people half my age near the end of a long hot day playing a good standard of club cricket.
It is cost neutral as the savings on petrol (not including “wear and tear” on the car) are used on bike maintenance, clothing and my own fuel intake. I have even managed to buy another bike and upgrade the children’s and my wife’s bikes AND keep it cost neutral.
And then there’s the views: