I recently started a new job. It is only a few hundred yards away from my old place of work but metaphorically it really is a million miles away. I have swapped the shackles of the big corporate machine to join a much leaner and exciting technology company and with a change in job has come a chance to commute by bike to work on a more regular basis.
Thankfully my new workplace is well-equipped for cycling and it seems like everyone in the office is a very keen cyclist. I am beginning to think that it might be the only reason, apart from my good looks, why I got the job.
In my old job there was never an issue with finding a space at the bike shed or indeed having to wait for a shower. Different story now; if you are not in early enough then the bike rack is full and you will be waiting for a shower. I felt like the new guy at school when I started to cycle in and people started to ask me about my bike. This never happened at my old work.
I am not claiming that this is a scientific study by any means but the majority of the people that work here look lean and fit. Perhaps it is because they have not been trodden on by the corporate machinery or perhaps it is the healthier lifestyle that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. We also have a very neat health insurance scheme that rewards healthy living and activity. I can only speak for myself but the carrot method definitely works.
After a couple of years of not commuting by bike and turning into somewhat of a fair-weather cyclist/ part-time runner, it took me a while to get back into the routine of commuting by bike. I quickly had to re-learn how to cycle safely in busy traffic and how important preparation was. If your bag is not packed the night before then you have no chance of actually cycling to work, especially in the maelstrom of getting the kids ready for nursery.
I hadn’t realised how much I had missed the commute to and from work. Recently one of the main advantages of getting out of the car and onto the bike has been the silence. No more listening in despair to the Brexit coverage that has dominated this country for the best part of three years. Yes the exercise is great for my mental well being but it turns out so is disconnecting from the world a little bit. Disconnecting from the radio and disconnecting from the phone for a precious half hour of cycling outdoors. Truly, life's better when it is at its simplest.
Having sent my trusty workhorse, ex-commuting bike to Croatia I am currently using my lovely Cannondale SuperSix Evo as a commuting bike. It has done nothing to deserve this. It is much too lovely for the battered roads and horrible weather. It was as shocked as me to be riding in the rain for perhaps the first time in its life. It groans at every pothole and puddle.
This bike is far too nice for the brutality of commuting.
For the sake of my bike this situation cannot go on. The winter roads will destroy it. I have already watched as one bike succumbed to the long winters and I will not let the same fate befall another. I need something sturdy. Something metal. Something that allows for tires wider than 25mm. Something with disc brakes perhaps. Something with a more relaxed geometry. Christ, I might just be getting old.
In the time I have been away from commuting it seems that more and more people have been bitten by the cycling bug. This is great to see and shows that where there is a will there is a way. With more bikes on the road one can only hope that the infrastructure improves accordingly.
Sunshine. In Scotland. A rare but welcome occasion.
Maybe it is the move to a much more interesting job where I don’t have to spend the best part of my day answering one thousand pointless emails that has improved my mental well being. Much more likely though is the fact that I am able to commute to work by bike.
I know that cycling to and from work is not for everyone, especially in a country that treats cyclists with contempt. We live in a country and era where obscenely long commutes to work, certainly in some parts of the country, are the reality and the only option is the mighty car. Some people worry about the weather and no doubt at times it can be dreary. Some people don’t have access to a shower at work or even a safe place to keep their bikes. I understand all of these reasons and empathise. To those that don’t have a valid excuse then what is stopping you? Even just one day a week. Trust me, once you start you will never look back!
You can see my typical route to and from work below in the Strava activities. I cycle slightly further in the mornings to ensure that I get my Vitality Health Insurance points for the day in the bag and can continue to get some of the excellent rewards. It also has to be said that I like to get home as quickly as possible to see the kids and make the dinner so I tend to take a much more direct route.