I've been cycling to work 2-4 days a week for three months now, and figured I should recount my experiences for those thinking of doing the same. Or those who are surprised that someone with my portly figure can cycle 12 miles to work and still do a day's work. And then cycle back.
First off, my motivations. I'm 33 with a young daughter and another kid on the way. And no matter how much enthusiasm I put behind a new fitness regime - whether it be gym based or outdoors - my enthusiasm tends to fade after a few weeks. Meanwhile I slide into middle aged obesity with too little resistence. I want to see my kids grow up.
And I've been paying a small fortune to South West Trains to sit on a stationary train outside stations. Time to take things into my own hands.
It was of course a risk buying a bike. What if I got bored with it? What if the distance was too much (12 miles in, 12 miles back)? What if I got knocked off?
So I threw caution to the wind, and picked up a bike. My company, LBi, do a great scheme (called BOOOST) where the cost of bikes is heavily subsidised, and payments are spread over 18 months. And I figured that getting a decent set of wheels would be more likely to inspire me to keep it up. I told the stockist what my priorities - safety, weight and speed, in that order - and he recommended the Ridgeback Genesis Day 6, shown above. Mine doesn't have the drop handlebars, mind.
The ride itself has been pretty good. It takes about an hour to get in, which is how long most people spend in the gym, so it's not like I'm running the marathon or anything. And of course some of it is downhill. Doing it back the same day is pretty tough, but I seem to be managing OK.
The main obstacle - apart from drivers not using their freakin' indicators (what is wrong with you people?) - has turned out to be kids throwing stones. My route takes me through the People's Paradise of Lambeth, and there's this one spot where one kid acts as lookout and tells his mate round the corner who is coming. They've missed me every time so far. Little tinkers. If they're reading this, then here's my route - Bring It On. *
And then there's the peds. I used to be one, so I know what its like - you're locked away in your cosy iPod bubble - and then a bike comes out of nowhere. Well, now I'm the bike. So we've exchanged words...."Get off the road", "SHADDUP......prick...." and we'll see where things go from there.
I was right about being inspired by a decent bike, by the way. Normally I look forward to climbing on, even if its raining. Haven't this week mind, I've been ill and don't want to push it. Plus there has been particularly terrible weather.
* Of course I don't say that their faces. I don't like stones - at least not ones thrown at my face.