Bicycle commuting – the story so far

So I’ve been cycling to work (in the UK it’s called ‘cycling’, not many people call it ‘biking’) a couple or three times a week the past several weeks, and I must say I’ve been actually liking it quite a lot.

The first thing is that I’ve lost a bit of weight! Brits would say I’ve lost ‘half a stone’ (one stone being 14 pounds for some ancient reason), I would say I’ve lost 3 kilos (100kg in mid-May to 97kg this morning), Americans would say I’ve lost about 7.5 pounds. 🙂 So…yay me! I can almost start wearing my size Large clothes again instead of relying on my XL shirts. I actually did have some comments a couple months ago from the folks I work with, when I wore some Large T-shirt that I’d just grabbed from the dresser that morning.

Just check out this chart from my almost-daily weight checks:

Secondly, I’m saving fuel (petrol/gas/whatever). The prices have gone up in the UK – not quite as much as in the US, but they’ve still gone up. A US gallon of regular unleaded is well over $8/gallon, but since I’ve been here the UK petrol prices have ‘only’ gone up about 20%, whereas prices in the States have gone up rougly 80-90%. So I can see why folks in the US are freaking out about gas prices, but while some people here are upset or angry, the impact isn’t quite so harsh. Still, it costs me about £5 to drive to work and back (25 miles), so there is a real monetary benefit to cycling in.

Third, I’m appreciating more and more the utter utility and freedom of a bike again. I used to ride a bike everywhere: going to the store for my mom or dad, popping over to friend’s houses from half a mile to several miles away, everywhere. Not only am I getting ‘out’, I’m getting OUT! And I’m not restricted by car lanes or narrow alleyways either, it’s like being between on foot and being in a car.

I need to get some pictures of my bike, everyone on the forums I go to seems to have pictures to share. I’d go into a little detail about it but I’ll just wait for the pictures 🙂

Speaking of forums, I read a few cycling forums on either side of the Atlantic, and it really dismays me that some guys (mostly in the States) seem to have a really bad time cycling, especially with verbal/auto abuse, horribly unattentive drivers or impossible street intersections. It’s strange, but when I read the UK bike forums the riders will complain about another cyclist going through a red light or having to pass the same cyclist several times on the street, but US cyclists have to contend with things like drivers who swerve at them or who actually try to kill them. Different complaints for different areas I suppose…I consider myself very lucky that I live in an area of England that seems to be quite attentive to cyclists. Plus, we’ve had some good weather lately so I see well over a dozen cycle commuters every day, whether I’m cycling or not.

At the moment I bike in 2 or 3 times a week, depending on my after-work schedule and how tired I am. On the days I play poker at work, I drive in for sure. If I’m too tired from the night before and can’t be bothered to get out of bed, I’ll drive in those days. If I’m ready to go and able to drag myself out of bed by 6 (in the AM), I’ll cycle all the way in (16 miles) because I need to leave by 6:30 or 6:45 in order to get to work with enough time to shower and change. If I want to cycle in but can’t wake up in time to do the full ride, I’ll load up the trunk rack, drive a few miles to a village about halfway to work and cycle in from there, about 6 miles one way. I know it sounds complicated but basically it comes down to how tired I am 🙂

Overall it’s been great, but unfortunately it’s been another excuse to buy more crap for my bike, like a new (used) bike rack, an extra set of wheels so I don’t have to change from knobbies to street, tools, pannier bags (those bags on the rear rack of some bikes), etc. At least I’m using it, though! But I do need to stop.

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