Almost six years ago to the day, I bought a shiny new bicycle from a shop in the Centro Historico in Mexico City. I loved that bike and rode almost every where on it. Fifteen mile round trips from home to classes and back again were common. The ciclothon on Sundays. Random rides up mountains. I attributed the sudden disappearance of my psoriasis to the buckets of sweat that all that riding induced. That was one of many health benefits. Most people thought I was completely nuts for wanting to ride the streets of Mexico City, what with all those hordes of crazy drivers on the roads. I thought they were nuts for wanting to get in a car and join the hordes of drivers going nowhere fast.
I’ve missed cycling these last few years since I’ve returned to the UK. I did have a bike, but it was a 35 year old hand me down with suicide gears and a pedal that didn’t like staying attached to the rest of the bike. Not a pleasure to ride, really. I’d looked at a few bikes in the shops. But I’ve not had the money spare to splash out on a bike. Until now. Thanks to the company I work for signing up to the excellent Ride To Work scheme that the government set up a few years back.
The scheme is a simple one. My company buys the bike from the shop they’ve agreed to run the scheme through, and I rent the bike off them for 12 months. There’s substantial tax relief involved, and I will pay a total of £168 (14 monthly payments of £14) for a bike and accessories worth £275. After the twelve months is up, I can take up the option to rent it for a further four years at £0 per month. At the end of that period I can buy the bike at it’s market value which will be £0. So, despite the complex tax avoidance system, the bike is effectively mine. It’s a freaking bargain, and I am back pounding the streets with two wheels once again.
It couldn’t have come at a better time either, given my recent move into Bournemouth. I don’t need to justify the cost of the bike, but were I forced to do so, I’d point out that I won’t be spending £40 a month on buses. So I’m saving £26 per month, not spending £14. 🙂 But lets have a look at my chosen steed. My old Benotto in Mexico was a genuine mountain bike. I’ve chosen a slightly more civilised style of bike this time. It’s a hybrid. Or so its labelled. Meh. It’s a mountain bike with slightly skinnier wheels.
Like my old Benotto, I chose black. I am a two wheeled, pedal powered Limey version of Knightrider. Just with a little less Hoff and a lot more more huff. And puff. But I’ll get fit again soon. This bike is the 2013 Specialized Crossroads. The bike has a sensible number of gears. Just seven, all on the rear axle. Who on earth needs a hundred and seventy gears on a bike anyway? Really, I don’t think I’ve ever used more than half a dozen gears on a bike. The rest are just wasted cogs.
I also much prefer the twist-shift gear change to the more usual thumb levers. It’s just easier, and I like easy. My thumbs do get exercised though. One of them anyway, with the little bell strapped to the handlebars. I bought a few essential accessories to. A pair of lights, which make me visible at night time. They’re cheapish one though, so while I can be seen as I’m going along, I can’t necessarily see where it is that I’m going exactly. I have a very sturdy D lock to keep thieves at bay. And I have a Specialized helmet than matches the bike which looks very nice on its hanger in the closet. I’ll wear it when I’ve had a haircut. Maybe.
I’m riding the bike now, of course. To work and when I’m out and about. But I’m really looking forward to warm summer evenings and long rides along coastal paths, through forest parks and through town for a lark. Roll on May!