(25th April 2012)
I have been cycling frequently for most of my life, but only short journeys in fair whether. I have always shunned the idea of getting cycle clothes, and thought of it as pretentious. Not seeing the necessity for wearing special clothes, unless actually racing or something, I had assumed that road cyclists do it just to try and look professional. But now… I reluctantly, I have finally understood the point of Lycra, even for quite short journeys. I’m kind of ashamed to say it, but it turns out there is a point to dressing like you’re on your way to the Superwoman auditions after all. The only real downside now is that other people who see me cycle past in all my gear will think I’m a pretentious idiot.
Basically as far as clothing goes, the keywords are “breathable” and “windproof”. Beginning my quest in winter, I used to wear 2 t-shirts, 2 jumpers, thermal leggings, trousers, hat scarf gloves etc, and feel cold yet sweaty on winter most rides, because normal clothes are not windproof. Now, I have a set of long fleecelined cycle leggings, a moisture wicking t-shirt, and a windproof jacket (plus hat, gloves, scarf), that’s all I need to keep warm without feeling sweaty at all. Not only that, but the clothes are cyclist shaped, and seamless, meaning that it’s comfy to wear them, and there’s no jeans digging in at the waist (and other areas). I also have a gortex raincoat that actually does keep the rain out and is breathable too.
But all this brings me to the big question of money. Ok, so you want to cycle and feel comfortable… how much is this really going to cost and is it really cheaper than driving or taking public transport all the time? I initially said that I had wanted to cycle instead of owning a car, for the health, environment and cost benefits. Of course those are not the only reasons. My main motivation is that I enjoy it.
I saw a comment on a guardian the guardian article: “How much money (and time) does cycling to work actually save you?” which read “Choosing to cycle is a way of life that has massive psychological and physical health benefits. It is not just for your commute. Anyone who needs to do a cost analysis…just don’t bother and stick to the lazy/stressy/obese lifestyle.” Rather provocative, but a fair point. None the less, I’d like to show what the financial, health and environmental benefits are from my own perspective, in the hope of encouraging others. Another reason for doing a “cost analysis” is that when I was embarking on this project I was rather surprised by the escalating costs. It was too late by then and I had already started, and was finding myself needing to spend more than I had expected to continue viably. For example, having spent £270 on the bike itself, I was surprised that I found I suddenly had to spend an extra couple of hundred on accessories from mudguards to changing the saddle, handlebars and pedals in order to feel happy with it.
Regardless of all this, “Per mile traveled, bicycle riding costs the frequent cyclist less than half as much as mass transit and only one-quarter as much as driving — even assuming cyclists must replace their bicycles every three years due to bicycle theft and bad pavement.’ according to this Australian website: http://www.bigbucksauto.com/automotive-articles/benefits-of-riding-a-bike-looming-average-cost-of-a-car/
In my next post I’ll talk in more detail about the financial benefits of cycling, and in later weeks, I’ll address the environmental and health benefits.