May 04, 2007

First cycle to work

So today was my first crack at cycling to work.

So what I hear you cry! Well, for me that means a 23 mile route from here= to here=

and obviously back again this evening.

Took just over 1hour 30 mins, which isn’t bad I think. The route is largely back roads and lanes except for the run through Warwick and out plus the last bit up Stoneleigh Lane, which isn’t that bad as the traffic isn’t really moving.

Interesting to note that this took me 1:30 to cycle and often takes 45mins in the car – so cycling only doubles the journey time. I though it might have been longer so that’s an interesting outcome.

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  1. Steve Rumsby

    Well done! And welcome to the cycle commuter’s club. At 23 miles each way, I don’t suppose you’ll be doing it every day, but I hope you keep it up. Twice a week and you’ll be doing about as many miles as I do all week including my lunchtime runs!

    And that is a pretty good time, too.

    04 May 2007, 09:44

  2. I think once a week is enough for me at the moment!

    04 May 2007, 09:45

  3. BTW – whatever happened to the idea of bike lockers – did that ever go anywhere?

    04 May 2007, 09:46

  4. Chris May

    Nice work :-)

    The lockers idea, as far as I know, hasn’t gone anywhere. If I were you, I’d try and find somewhere in the office (or at least inside the building) to keep your bike.

    04 May 2007, 10:03

  5. it’s sat behind me in the office – at £120+ a pop I can’t afford to let one of the wheels go walkies…

    04 May 2007, 10:07

  6. Steve Rumsby

    I don’t expect cycle lockers to appear anytime soon. I don’t think cycling has a high enough profile here yet to persuade people to spend that kind of money. We need to get more people cycling, and preferably more senior people…

    04 May 2007, 10:13

  7. Catherine Fenn


    04 May 2007, 11:30

  8. 23 times 2 if 46. My God man! 46 miles?!

    04 May 2007, 13:50

  9. IS IS IS not IF

    04 May 2007, 13:50

  10. 46 miles – yes, but with a rather large break in bewteen…

    04 May 2007, 13:55

  11. Tom Sharp

    Well done. That puts into perspective my claim that my potential cycle route is not possible at 11 miles one way!

    I have some questions tho;

    Surely on the cycle commute days you can bring virtually nothing with you?
    Do you have to leave office clothes at the office?
    Do you have to factor in time for showers?

    ^(all the above are my reasons for not cycling to work, oh, plus laziness)

    04 May 2007, 14:57

  12. Steve Rumsby

    Surely on the cycle commute days you can bring virtually nothing with you?

    A rack and panniers allow you to carry a lot of stuff if you need to. You wouldn’t want to carry a lot for 20-odd miles, unless you desperately wanted the exercise, but you could. I regularly ship a laptop backwards and forwards in a pannier, for example, although that’s only for 5 miles…

    04 May 2007, 15:31

  13. I left a bag of stuff here on thursday so i only carry bare minimum. It took a bit more planning but not really a problem. I’ll take it back home on tuesday next week.

    Of course I factor in showers – not fair on the colleagues to smell all day!

    On the pannier front – I have a roadbike that I am not to keen to start mucking about with framewise so I was wondering if anyone has any experience of

    04 May 2007, 15:56

  14. Steve Rumsby

    I’m considering buying a road bike sometime (well, something a bit more roady than my current bike, anyway) and I’ve wondered the same thing. I’d be lost without panniers. I hate cycling with a rucksack on my back. I’ve looked at the same product, but I doubt it would take the weight I currently carry in my panniers on a Monday morning and Friday evening (especially the laptop). I would be OK the rest of the time, I think. And being able to clip it off for my lunchtime rides would be a bonus. I might just have to live with using a laptop rucksack when lugging the machine around, or else use my current bike when I’ve got a lot of stuff.

    I’ve not come across anybody who has used one of these things, though, so I too would be interested in personal experiences.

    Do you have mudguards? This being Britain, it rains even in the summer and you don’t want to have to ride 23 miles home with spray going everywhere you’d rather it didn’t:-)

    04 May 2007, 16:23

  15. Chris May

    Those sticky-out-rack things are a bit rubbish IMO. They scratch your seat tube, and bounce like crazy once you’ve got any weight in them. I’d just get yourself a decent courier bag (I have one of these which has lasted me for 5 years so far…), and try not to put too much in it. Shoulder bags are much more comfortable than rucksacs, especially if you’ve got dropped handlebars.

    Leave the laptop at home, and just get a USB hard disk if you need to move data around (or a broadband connection!) .

    If you can take a change of clothes in on a non-bike day, then all you need to carry in is your toolkit and wallet/phone/keys. You can probably fit that lot into the back pocket of your riding top and do away with bags entirely!

    (Top tip, btw; get a rain jacket that’s small enough to roll and fit inside a water-bottle cage, then you can carry it on the bike if the weather looks dodgy)

    04 May 2007, 16:38

  16. Jules

    I’m surprised you recommend a shoulder bag rather than a rucksac, surely rucksacs distribute the weight more evenly which is better for balance and I would have thought they were more comfortable as well. Also, if you put a jacket in your water bottle cage where do you put your water bottle?

    07 May 2007, 10:45

  17. Some people use saddle bags. No weight on body or sweat patches. Weight balanced on either side of the wheel line.

    There is also a product which fits like a pannier to the bike but which converts to a rucksack for walking.

    07 May 2007, 16:03

  18. nick

    There is a really good way of finding out distances mark a route out on :)

    07 May 2007, 22:20

  19. Chris May

    @Jules: Rucksacs put the weight too high up on your back, if you’re using dropped bars. This can lead to/exacerbate all kinds of lower back problems. Shoulder bags put the weight very low down on the base of your spine / top of your bum – hence putting much less leverage on the spine. A decent shoulder bag, with a second strap to go accross the chest, fits just as securely, and is just as well balanced, as a rucksac.

    If you have flat bars, and the more upright riding position that goes with them, then this is much less of a problem – which is why mountain bikers tend to have rucksacs, but roadies / couriers don’t.

    I have 2 water bottle cages :-)

    @George: The main problem I have with saddle bags is that it’s hard to find one which is big enough to fit an A4 folder in, but which doesn’t flap about like a sail and/or allow stuff to roll around inside when it’s empty. Do you know of such a beast?

    08 May 2007, 11:46

  20. Mark Swift

    Again, maximum respect for even attempting that sort of distance to work. I commute on my bike but its less than 2 miles door to door and probably too short, so sometimes take a detour on the way home!

    On the bike storage front, keep it in the office! I lost two bikes on campus, both of which were securely locked in a bike rack and could be seen from my office window.

    08 May 2007, 14:30

  21. @George: The main problem I have with saddle bags is that it’s hard to find one which is big enough to fit an A4 folder in, but which doesn’t flap about like a sail and/or allow stuff to roll around inside when it’s empty. Do you know of such a beast?

    Afraid not.

    08 May 2007, 15:35

  22. Richard Fern

    I’m hearing all kinds of interesting stuff on lockable garages for bikes – we should all start aggravating for this. Or Chain our bikes to the VCs desk for a week.

    Well done Tom – puts my 4 miles each way to shame. Incidentally, it takes me as long to cycle as it does to drive – go figure.


    11 May 2007, 15:08

  23. Alison Bell

    Just picked up on your blog.
    Looking at provision for cyclists is one of the items that came out of Warwick’s Future and we (including Estates under our remit of Transport) are looking at what we can offer. We are aiming for the campus to be a green icon and therefore encouraging use of cycles makes sense. This seems like an appropriate forum to ask:
    What would be good in terms of provision that the University could provide? eg:
    -lockable cycle sheds
    -lockers for gear
    -showers in more places than just Uni House and the sports centre
    -visits by a cycle repair person onto campus (incentives for cycling could include a free “MOT” once a year?)
    -a buddy scheme for devising routes
    What else?

    11 May 2007, 15:38

  24. Hi Alison,

    lockable sheds are the main thing for me. The covered shed at the back of Uni House could easily have a card key entry gate on it, or alternatively some bike lockers would be good – ones that we could rent for a year in the same way you pay for a car parking space.

    Uni house already has showers/lockers but no doubt some extra provision would make sense too.

    Not so sure about the cycle repair thing – may be more important to other users than me. Ditto for the buddy scheme – not sure anyone else would want my ride!

    I think the key thing is secure storage for the bike itself. I can’t hope on the bus to go home if something happened to it.

    The MOT is a good idea though.

    11 May 2007, 15:44

  25. Nick Hillard

    Tom …. In collaboration with various others, we are looking at fitting a gate and swipe card access to the brick shelter to the rear of Uni House. This work is in addition to the £50K that is currently being spent on cycle storage improvements around the campus. Plenty of work to be done, but bear with it.

    Regards, Nick

    11 May 2007, 16:19

  26. Not so sure about the cycle repair thing

    Nowadays most people expect the things they buy to be maintenance free. However even the most reliable bicycle is way behind a modern car in terms of maintenance intervals and cheap bicycles are particularly bad. What can happen is people buy a cheap bike, use it a few times and then give up in disgust.

    Many cyclists don’t even realise that tyres pumped up hard make the bicycle easier to pedal and punctures less frequent.

    Many bicycles are in an un-roadworthy state – lights don’t work and brakes are insufficient.

    The only bicycle shop in Kenilworth refuses to maintain bicycles bought elsewhere

    A FAQ about commuting by bicycle to campus might be useful.

    11 May 2007, 16:46

  27. Jules

    Chris, I still don’t see the advantage of putting a rain jacket in one of your water bottle cages because you would need to stop and dismount to put your jacket on if it started raining. I think it would be better to carry two water bottles and keep a rain jacket in your bag.

    15 May 2007, 07:40

  28. Mark Swift

    I agree with George, many new cyclists give up when their bikes go wrong. The provision of a on site repair man once a week would help those of us who either don’t have the time or the skills to keep our bikes in good condition. A free yearly bike MOT or another incentive can only encourage the uptake of people cycling to and from campus. Charging rent for bike lockers certainly wont. If its raining, cold or if I need to be somewhere else after work, the thought of having to pay for car parking still makes me cycle in!

    15 May 2007, 14:48

  29. Chris May

    Jules: The advantage is I don’t then need to carry a bag at all – phone, keys and wallet in pocket, change of clothes waiting at work, tools, tube + pump under the saddle..

    Alison: Like the others, lockable sheds would be the best thing the uni could do for me (I’d like some on westwood, since that’s where I’m based). During the winter time my bike features about £300 worth of (removable) lighting – not something I’m keen to have out on display in the open. At the moment I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep it in the office during the day, but it would be better, I think, to have somewhere weatherproof, secure, and with CCTV monitoring.

    16 May 2007, 07:59

  30. Catherine Fenn

    Response for Alison:
    ‘What would be good in terms of provision that the University could provide?’
    lockable bike sheds would be priority (I’d like some on Gibbet, since that’s where I’m based) currently bike gets parked in very public area (bringing it into the office not an option)
    lockers/drying area for gear – would be bonus. Draping stuff around the office (especially when wet) can get on colleagues nerves…
    showers – we have 1 at gibbet, so it’s a good job it’s location is a well kept secret!
    ride tax free scheme – on face of it would seem incentive if Warwick signed up? (haven’t looked into this myself as with current security levels would expect upgrade on current bike to vanish pretty quickly :(

    16 May 2007, 09:27

  31. Adam


    As many others have said – fair play for attempting such a commute!! My school run used to be 22 miles in each direction which I complained about for years whilst reliant on the school bus. When I had the freedom of a car the journey time dropped to around about 25 minutes – the whole journey was made up of wide, quiet 60 mph B-roads – from around about 2 hours. I never even considered using a pedal bike at that distance…. impressive :)

    18 May 2007, 18:50

  32. Adam


    Good find – sorry, I only noticed after posting my reply. As we have pool cars this is actually something to think about – employees can cycle in to work from home and then use the pool cars should they be required for viewings/management etc. Also this is a nice way for us to prove to the revenue that pool cars aren’t being taken home at night!

    18 May 2007, 18:53

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