All entries for Thursday 06 January 2011

January 06, 2011

Cycling on a budget

Today was the first time I cycled to the campus this year. I stopped cycling in November when it got too cold and I have totally lost shape. I used to do the approx. 5 miles in about 30 minutes. Today it took me 50 minutes.

I started cycling late last year due a number of reasons. First of all, the journey to campus in the mornings was a terrible experience with all the traffic jams. After reaching campus, I would then have to go round and round all the car parks looking for a parking space. Sometimes it could take me more than half an hour to find a parking space. Public transport is no better - there is no direct bus and I would have to change 2 buses in order to reach campus, taking nearly and hour to reach the University from my house in Radford.

Finally with the rise in petrol prices and the prohibitive parking rates and the fact that I no longer have a scholarship means that I can't afford to come to campus by car anymore.

So cycling was becoming a very attractive option. Plus, it would be a great workout and hopefully I could regain back the pecs I lost a couple of years ago.

I didn't have a really large budget and to be honest I was quite naive to think that cycling was the cheaper option. Maybe it is in the long run but the initial outlay is quite high. I mean, all the good bikes I liked cost a few hundred pounds. You then need to think about a helmet, lights, cycling pants, security locks, etc. and they are not cheap.

In the end I decided to buy a used bike and went on to eBay. I was lucky and won a great ladies bike for just £16/ - I don't really care but to my daughter's dissapointment, I decided to take off the pink stickers. I invested a bit on a new chain after the old chain broke twice. The old saddle was terrible and after a bit of searching, I bought a new WTB saddle over eBay for just £12 including postage.


As a student, I don't think you should spend that much on a bike.

There are loads of bargains on eBay and you might be able to get a good one as I did for less than £50. However, be ready to upgrade some parts.  Later on I also found out about Action 21, a charity that promotes environmental, social and economically sustainable projects in and around Warwick. They sell recycled bikes which have been thoroughly checked by trained mechanics with prices starting at just £30. They sell bikes each Friday at 10am at Action 21's Re-Useful Centre: 5 Ramsey Road, Sydenham, CV31 1PL.

If you a bit of a mechanic, you can ask around for some of the old bikes rusting in the backyards of a number of houses. Some may actually give it to you for free. That could be a great DIY project. Moreover, classic bikes with flaking paints are now in fashion after a few celebrities were seen riding them. The bad news is that this has resulted in a hike in the prices of old bikes. What used to be available for a couple of pounds on eBay now go for around £50 and more for a rusting old Raleigh  - it's ridiculous. 

Of course if you have the cash, you can go out a buy a top of the range, carbon fibre road bike with top of the range spec. but I would make sure I kept it in my room when I am not riding it. I would be sad if someone stole my bike (it happens even in our campus) but not as sad as I would be if I lost one that cost me around a thousand pounds.

Dilip Mutum

This blog records some of the thoughts and experiences of Dilip Mutum at the University of Warwick. He has been blogging since 2003 and this is but one of his many blogs.

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