About a month ago I was given a free bike. It had little in the way of useful tyres, a severely warped rear wheel and is painted cerise. However it was both free and steel-framed, both good for "customising". Two miles of cycling on a flat tyre got it home, ready for some fixing and before I knew it I was cycling to work, doing about 100 miles per week. This series of posts looks at the results of this.
So what has cycling to work every day taught me?
The Value of Money
Money normally just happens - it comes and goes from my account as it pleases.
But now every £2.70 represents a 12-mile grueling cycle ride. Buying something I don’t really need means I did all that effort for nothing - is a trip to Costa worth all that cycling. Of course contrast that with a trip to [Harris + Hoole] and I feel I should be cycling further - they’re coffee’s good.
Saying that, I’ve not become stingy, just more aware that I’ve put in effort to “earn” that money - work and student loan just happen, whether I like it or not, whereas cycling is a conscious effort to save money, so I don’t like the effort being wasted on something I don’t need.
The Value of Cycle Maintenance
Cycling isn’t free - not in the slightest! One day in and I spent fifty quid on new inner tubes, tyres and the like. I’m averaging a serious puncture once every two weeks thanks to giant nails hiding along the towpath, which tends to mean buying a new inner tube for a fiver, or tenner if I buy a Slime SmartTube (review possibly coming in the future).
The Value of Time
Cycling now takes up at least two hours of my day. Unlike the tube I can’t spend this reading, writing or drawing.
But it lets me think. And thinking time has been far too rare recently. Whether planning an upgrade to the bike, a future project or how I could live on a narrow boat it’s good to have some time to get me head round the problem.
The towpath is also a little more sedate than the rest of London - the water gently laps at the banks whilst a boat chuggs past at walking pace. The driver may even nod or wave, despite being in London. Even cyclists sometimes thank one another as they pass. And there’s no swarms of commuters intent on getting to that train by the shortest route possible, whoever or whatever’s in the way, even closing doors.
The Value of Other Cyclists
Cycling’s now fairly popular at work, and makes a good discussion point. As far as I know I go not only the furthest, but on the worst bike. A new best time to work can lead to a discussion over the morning coffee, and a flat tyre sees a gathering of cyclists acknowledging their shared pain.
Lunchtime often seen adjustments to the hairier of the bikes, but the first rule prevents me going into detail.
The Value of Food
My final point is one about food - something I refrain from mentioning on this blog for reasons I don’t fully understand. I’m burning about 1000 calories extra per day now, which means I can’t skip breakfast, need a decent lunch (Hummus seems to be made from pure energy) and start to suffer when my cupboards run out of food.
And so it worries me that I might need to cut a second new hole in my belt to stop my trousers falling down!