A couple of weeks ago I was in the Isle of Man for the TT and was talking to my brother and mentioned that I’d been using an exercise bike prior to my ski trip in March, but had no space for it now.  I think it was in the context of me not wanting to ride a few miles to a pub, that had a beer he wanted to try, as I wasn’t feeling particularly healthy.  My brother suggested I just get a proper bike instead and it prompted me to think about the Ride2Work scheme that’s offered as a benefit at work.  The scheme allows somebody to use salary sacrifice to buy a bike (for the purposes of travel too and from work, plus some use outside of work) saving on tax and national insurance contributions (Evans Cycles have some details here: Ride2Work).

When I got back to work I had a look over the scheme and chatted to a mate who is really in to his cycling for some advice on what I should be looking at.  I also went along to Evans Cycles near the Trafford Centre and Chill Factore and booked in a test ride of a Hybrid bike I liked the look of – a Cannondale CX2.  Because I’m freakishly tall they had to order one in in extra-large.  It arrived in on Thursday, and I liked it – so went ahead with the application which our HR dealt with mega-quickly.  I would have had the voucher the same day, but Evans seemed to have an issue sending it, so in the end I got it on Monday when I emailed asking for an update.

Picked up the bike on Monday prior to football – getting to the Trafford Centre and back again in record time (and being early for football).

Yesterday, Tuesday, I rode it to work for the first time; and I can’t believe how ‘wobbly’ I felt after the 3km trip!  I’ve not cycled properly in a long time – probably since the last time I was in the Isle of Man for the TT back in 2009. Very different to using the exercise bike.  It took me 11mins and 38secs to get in and 11 mins 8 seconds to get back.  Not bad overall as it’s not that much longer than it would take in the car!  Today I rode in again and I improved on the previous days times (bizarrely both by 1 minute and 5 seconds each!).  I’m tracking my progress via Endomondo – and so far find it an interesting to compare what I’m doing; hopefully that’ll be a motivator to keep cycling in and to improve on my speed.  Endomondo tells you the distance, time and average and maximum speeds (along with a funky graph of altitude and speed over the distance).  There’s also a map.  Here’s a link to my ride back today.

The weather has been kind, so far, but I’m living in Rochdale.  Rain is inevitable, so this evening I’ve prepared appropriately by attaching mudguards to my bike:

Front mudguard…

Rear mudguard…

I also did some other prep’ work.  I attached lights – certainly not something I’ll need for a while though I guess the need is only getting closer given I’m posting this on the summer solstice.

Light attached…

I also attached my pump and the d-lock holder.  To be honest I’ll most likely carry them in the bag I take to work – but they’ll be handy when I go on a weekend cycle.

Pump installed…

Lock attached…

My immediate intention is to cycle in pretty much every day.  I’m close to work and even on a rainy day it shouldn’t be a big deal.  I also hope to go on some moderate rides (along the towpath – it’s a hybrid, not a mountain bike) once I’m feeling more up to a bit of distance.  I’m thinking the Winepress at Hollingworth Lake would be a good option (up Rochdale Canal… and there’s beer at the destination, it’s also pretty-much downhill all the way back).

Of course the bike needs a name – as all my vehicles since my first car have had a name.  Nothing’s come to mind so far though… ideas on a postcard! 😉

And here is the bike in completion.  It’s pwetty and shiny. 🙂

The bike!