Monday, 16 April 2012

The story so far

OK then, there's a little bit of catching up to do.  In general I have managed to keep myself fit and reasonably in shape.  Certainly no worse than many of my peers and perhaps better than some.  A job that for many years kept me moving around for most of the day helped a great deal.  However, about five years ago, I changed to job that involved a lot of sitting at desks and a regular car commute.

Ah yes, the car commute. 

Door to door it's about 23 miles which ought to take (and out-of hours does take) about 35 minutes.  However, at the times I travel, it takes anything from an hour to ninety minutes, most of which is spent grumbling in stationary traffic queues and desperately trying to find something worth listening to on the radio.  Coming home at night is the same in reverse, only worse because by then I'm tired, stressed and thoroughly grumpy.

I have, over the years looked at many, many other options from the practical to the downright bizarre.  However, the one I kept coming back to was to cycle to train station, get the train to the city where the office is located and cycle the rest of the journey.  Some weeks ago (and I can't recall the exact catalyst) but I'd finally had enough.  I decided to go for it and cycle/train/cycle to work.

I did the maths and at present (with fuel prices having risen the way they have) it costs me £10 per day for the privilege of sitting in a car in traffic jams twice a day.  On the train, it's £5.50 for a day return.

I also knew from colleagues who are keen cyclists about the Government's Cycle Scheme.  Basically, the company buys you a bike (and helmet, lock etc.) and you pay it back over 18 months from your pre tax earnings.  So you pay less tax and NI and effectively get the bike at a cheaper total costs than the ticket price. 

Finally, I figured that I'd need a folding bike.  I knew from train travel experience that some rail companies are funniy about allowing full-sized bikes on at busy times of day. It seemed though, from a bit of a Google search, that most allow folding bikes at any time, no problem.  However I was a little bit concerned about the distance involved.

It's 7.5 miles of mainly country lanes from home to the railway station and then 4 miles more from the station to the office.  I wasn't at all sure that a folding bike would be up to the job!  How wrong I was...

Two of my friends have folding bikes - one a Brompton and the other a Dahon.  Both lovely bikes and casual enquiry revealed that that both of them manage distances of over 15 miles regularly and with ease.  I was surprised but encouraged.

With the Bromptons being a little pricey, but still wanting a quality bike (and not a Halfords special) I opted for a Dahon.  Fast forward a couple of weeks and courtesy of the fine chaps at City Cycles in Leicester, I became the proud owner of a nice blue Dahon Vitesse D3HG.

The rest, as they say, is history...


  1. Very interesting about the pre-tax bike. Here in Washington, DC we can buy rail commuter fare pre-tax but not bikes. Maybe that's something I should advocate for :)

    Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures. good luck!

  2. Cheers! Your own blog has been quite an inspiration too. All the best! :-)