07 December 2006

How it all started

It was 14 June 2005, and I'd been promised a free cooked breakfast. Welcome to 'cycle to work day'. For years I had thought about doing it, but had always come against an obstacle big enough to put me off (ie not that big) - until the next year, and the next, and the next...

For a start, I didn't have a bike. And I didn't want to buy a new one because I didn't have anywhere to store it - under cover at least. So, one day, I went to dump some garden debris to the local tip and saw this rusty old bike. It needed new brake pads, but was otherwise serviceable.

Still, now I had a bike but the June day came and the weather was awful. I did start to use the bike to cycle to and from the tram (Whitefield) - a 7' ride as opposed to a 15' walk. The first time I did it I got the mock leather of the saddle ripped off by vandals, but no incidents after that (I replaced the lost saddle cover with an Asda bag, and carried a supply of spares as, every now and then, some young git was bound to rip that too).

Then June 2005 came. The weather was glorious. I had been putting on weight steadily over the years and stood at 105kg. OK, I'd given up sugar in my coffee but clearly something more radical was needed.

So, on the morning of Tuesday 14 June 2005, having bought a helmet and a new saddle, I set off at 0700, fully expecting a 90' journey.

It only took 45' - some ups and downs but on the whole it is downhill Bury to Mcr. When I got to the office the canteen was closed so I had to wait a further 45', drinking lots water, famished and shattered. In the evening the return journey took 75' - it was rather hot, I had to stop a couple of times to get a drink and catch my breath. When I finally got home I felt I was walking on wooden legs and despite drinking gallons of water I was chronically thirsty for days. But I was hooked. I tried it again - w/out the cooked breakfast - and again and again.

Eighteen months later I cycle to work almost everyday. I'm down to 90kg with only a small change to my diet (namely: eat loads but avoid fat!). I do the 7.5 miles in an avg of 45' downhill (best time 39') and 55' uphill (45' best). I've done it throughout all four seasons, in rain, hail and snow. I've had one minor fall, 3 bikes (more on that later) and my share of small mishaps.

I should explain I do not see myself as a 'cyclist'. Nor am I a 'bloke on a bike'. I think I am something in between, a two-wheeled commuter. What the difference is, the joys and pitfalls on my 'journey' is what I hope to discuss in these postings. We'll see...

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