It's now been five years since I started my crazy cycle commute. Total mileage is hard to estimate; I made quite a low estimate that first year. I, of course, do not have a cycle computer of any kind and even if I did I doubt it'd survive the weather all year round. However, based on 227 working days a year cycling, I must be at around 45000 miles.
Five years on I am also riding the same shitty £200 fixed gear (now six years old); In fact over three years of those miles have been done on fixed gear; my road bike only lasted two years and didn't get used all year round. Ok, a LOT of components have been replaced, but the frame is still the same, stem, brake lever, the forks were up until a few months ago and one of the rims and hubs is the original (but on opposite wheels). Speaking of the wheels, they are utterly crap. The rear is a 32-hole rim on a 36-hole hub and I've just discovered the front rim is bending out on one side all the way round. I still have inner tubes as bar tape and that brake lever I have is the wrong kind for my handlebars. Those handlebars are probably the highest grade component on my bike, Strada Shallow Drops (currently retailing at a whopping £10 from Planet X). If you are ever looking for sympathy as to why your bike isn't good enough to go out riding on, you're not going to find any from me.
One of the most interesting things about this anniversary is not the distance nor the bicycle, however, but that during this past five years I can count on the fingers of an amputee's hand exactly how many times I have been out for a cycle that is purely for pleasure:
To be fair, there are multiple reasons for this:
- I simply cannot justify/afford unnecessary wear and tear - As I have frequently documented here, I can barely afford the necessary wear and tear. Ok, I do quite often cycle at weekends, but only because I've been sent out on errands and even though this does not result in an increase to my cycling budget it does to the emotional one.
- By the time I get to the weekend with, a pretty consistent, six hours sleep a night, I'm knackered and the thought of getting up early on a Sunday morning and cycling seven miles just to get to the start of the local cycling club's ride doesn't appeal to me. Ok, I have to get up early in summer anyway to let the chickens and ducks out, but I CAN GO BACK TO BED! I am not at all concerned, though, about keeping up with swanky road bikes on my shit bike - I do plenty ok.
- I simply wouldn't be allowed. There is conflict between how I view "my" time and the wife and kids do: I see going to work everyday as giving up "my" time to benefit them, they pretty much see it as "my" time and therefore I should use the time at the weekend to benefit them. The truth is no doubt somewhere in between. But I can certainly emphasize that if I'm away at work for 12-13 hours a day Monday to Thursday and then 9-10 hours on a Friday, then my wife shouldn't have to be stuck with the kids whilst I go out cycling at the weekend.
- I have too many other jobs to do at the weekend. Somewhat in conflict with supposedly using the weekend to spend quality time with the wife and kids, I have to spend hours at the weekend with my share of the chores: mucking out fields and chicken coups, mowing the lawns, trimming hedges, etc. If I went out for a ride I'd still have to do all that work (I know from running errands).
Well, I had hoped to write a nice positive post to mark this anniversary, but this seems to have come out mostly, although probably truthfully, negative. This has been a hard five years.
Official anniversary is actually tomorrow, but, although I may well be sent out on an errand, I'll not be commuting.