Work / Ride Balance

By Matt Bowers
28 February 2019

It took two days of using the train when I first started at Rocktime to convince me that the 6-mile commute could and would be better covered by two wheels. It was summer time after all and how hard could it be to turn myself into the cycle commuter I had always dreamt of being? Just like the 40% of my colleagues who also ride to work here at Rocktime. There was the added bonus of knowing that I am also having a positive impact on the environment along by helping to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

It had been a long time since I had rode a bike with any more regularity than a once a week ‘9 miler’ and even then, there had never been the added pressure of getting in on time. Thoughts running through my mind included what if I get a puncture, what if it rains and I don’t have the right gear and the biggest of all, what if I’m just not fit enough to cycle the distance, work effectively and then have the energy to be able to cycle home, let alone do it all again the next day and remainder of the week!

The route I picked wasn’t the shortest, but at the time I thought it would be the flattest, it took me through Poole Park, past the Quay and along the relatively quiet road up through Hamworthy. Only the (what at the time felt like a mountain) small hill coming into Upton caused me to dig deep.

To my surprise I wasn’t tired at all and if anything felt more alert and productive throughout the day (without facing any type of afternoon slump in energy). The ride home was a more relaxed affair than the one I took in the morning and I have the bonus that part of my ride took me around Poole harbour with a cycle friendly no car allowed route through a park (on one side park, the other water for great views). Only the final hill to the top of one of the chines Poole and Bournemouth are famous for takes the smile off my face.

After this I started to track my rides via an app and eventually start sharing the results with my other cycling colleagues so that we can compare times This opens some friendly competition, which in turn helps to spur me and my efforts along. I feel like it helps me to become part of the team faster and on a more selfish note to see how much I am improving, which again is a big motivator to keep riding.

Over the next three months we have one of the best summers on record so there are no excuses not to cycle. I find that I lose weight, I’m stronger and fitter than I have been in a long time and the ride is easier, with even the final hill turning into something I am able to sprint up and not feel out of breath.

September and October come and go, and the nights start to draw in but I feel like a machine knocking out the miles. By November I am starting to ride less and less, and drive more and more, using rain, the decreasing temperatures and the ever-increasing dark nights to excuse myself from something I have really enjoyed doing and had become part of my daily routine. The problem I find is that once you are out of the habit, it is hard to find the habit again. I watch on enviously as other cyclists zip past whilst I’m sat in traffic, but I just can’t bring myself to join them. I ask myself, have I been spoilt by the perfect summer we have just had. Have I gone soft and am I now just a fair, warm weather cyclist?

I rode only a couple of times over the next few months and close out the year with a final ride on New Year’s Eve, I can feel that my prior level of fitness has escaped me once more.

It’s now late February and I have finally made the step to get back on the bike with the evenings becoming lighter and warmer. Admittedly the weight I had lost is back, the fitness I had gained is gone and chance of a Strava PB is now a long way off, but I find myself smiling and feeling light of heart as I dodge through the early morning traffic, the run of green lights makes me pick the pace up a little. I can feel summer just around the corner and maybe, just maybe I’ll manage to clock up more miles than the rest of my cycling colleagues this year.

Let the competition begin!

I feel fortunate to work for a company that is very pro cycling and health in general. Rocktime has gone out of its way to provide facilities that make cycle commuting an easy choice for both my colleagues and myself. In all honesty, had this not of been as openly available, I may still be driving and not looking forward to the daily commute.

 

 


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