Times are hard at the moment, I’m not dropping below the breadline just yet but I think most of us will admit that we have to reign in the spending at the moment. This post is about how I have saved money through cycling, not a lecture on why everyone should cycle everywhere but just my personal experience.
It was 12 months ago now that I decided I would start cycling, before this I was pretty unhealthy and did little exercise of any sort. It was the reason for improving my fitness that really pushed me to start, the fact that the weather was also beginning to get better also helped convince me. Like most people I already had a bike gathering dust somewhere in the garage so one nice Saturday afternoon I got it out and just went out. I didn’t get very far, around 6 miles and I was sweating and came home, however I did enjoy getting the fresh air. Over the next few weeks I kept it up cycling up to 10 mile a couple of times a week. At this point I wasn’t cycling to commute anywhere it was purely recreational to improve my fitness. Surprisingly it worked very well, I was not riding at any high intensity by any means but I was noticing myself dropping a few pounds.
After about 6 weeks I was getting pretty confident on the bike around traffic and in general but I was finding that doing the same route was getting a little boring. Over the next month I stepped up the distance to 20 to 25 miles and also started doing different routes, I found this much more enjoyable and instead of forcing myself to go out I found that I was missing riding after a couple of days. This was also about the time that I really got my base fitness up to a reasonable level where I was barely becoming tired and my speed was definitely picking up. However the hills were almost killing me, but a friend told me that was normal and I would soon get used to them. Fitness was not the only benefit I found, that it was also a great way to relieve stress. Not that I would call myself a stressed person but I was loving the routine going out after a hard day at work and getting some fresh air.
So after 3 months of cycling I decided to join a cycling club, I was a bit apprehensive at first because I had heard that some of the members took their cycling very seriously and I would not be able to keep up. Although after turning up to the first meeting I soon realised that it was for all abilities and everyone was really friendly. Surprisingly I was not as unfit as I thought I was and even though I was riding with the slower group but I was holding my own. After only a few weeks I was completing the weekend club rides of up to 40 miles which I never thought I would have been able to do when I first started.
Now this is where I took the big commitment to begin riding to work, it was a 20 mile round trip which equals to 100 miles a week. I knew the weekend before that I wanted to commit to riding to work but I woke up on the Monday morning and it was throwing it down with rain. I had a waterproof bag with a change of clothes in and although I was very tempted to reach for my car keys but I grabbed the bike instead. Although I got very wet on the way, by the time I had dried off and changed in work I felt pretty good. I have now not driven to work in the past 2 months and I’m not sure exactly how much fuel I have saved but I guess it must be a lot. I have also been riding to other places as well such as friends houses and trying to cut out as many unnecessary car journeys as possible. I know what you must be thinking, it sounds like a lot of hassle riding somewhere when you have a car. Well yes it is but not that much if you plan ahead. I make sure I have everything ready the night before for the morning, and that I leave myself with enough time to get somewhere, lock the bike up, and get changed. Working in a city also means that the journey time is pretty similar; on some days I imagine I am actually quicker on my bike. I have had a lot of hobbies in my time but I am convinced that cycling has become much more than that and is now part of my everyday life, and will continue to be so.
Well if anyone else has ever thought about starting riding more, then I hope my this article has been a bit of help. Let me know what you think of my story and if you have had any similar experiences.