Welcome to The Bike Blog’s inaugural post. As you could have gathered, this blog is about bikes, bikes bikes bikes! I think bicycles are amazing. They make you filthy rich, leaner, sexier, funnier and they even give you better hair. Yes, seriously! With anything, you can spend small fortunes, but if you’re sensible, bikes really are dirt cheap. They are efficient and practical, powered by carbohydrates and body fat, don’t cost loads to maintain. You don’t have to be an expert mechanic to keep them running, they don’t need a pricey MOTs or require emissions taxes. At worst you need to be prepared to learn how to change a tyre in event of puncture, but there are ways and means to minimise the risks of flats. We will get around to those later. You can either have your local bike shop do all the servicing and maintenance which won’t cost much, or if your only a really tight budget, you can do most of the maintenance at home. It’s one of the most accessible and friendly sports I know, and did I mention? Its really really practical. You’ll never need to worry about starting the car, or buy another bus or train tickets for those local journeys, which will do wonders for your bank statements. Yes there’s an initial down payment for the bike and accessories, but the more miles you clock on the bike, the sooner you will see the bike earning you money.
A brief history
I grew up with bikes, living in a rural area, getting out and about on a bike was my favourite way to pass time. I must have spent hours rolling around in the dirt, building make shift ramps for epic jumps, creating off-road race tracks and riding on the local trials and roads. It just what boys did at that time.
I recently rekindled my love for the humble bicycle after 15+ years out of the saddle. I now ride my bike almost every day, most months I fit in excess of 800 miles in the saddle. It had me wondering, why did I ever retire my pride and joy to the garage, where it would inevitably collect dust, begin to rust and eventually be sold on or scrapped? I have no idea what my father did with it.
As I grew older I guess I began to focus on other things. Building ramps and racing the other boys in the village probably lost its novelty. Increasing time was spent on studying for exams… cough, cough, playing video games and eventually even girls became more interesting than bikes. I was never really the athletic type, so going on to become a pro rider was never going to happen. I guess I just had better things to do and it quickly became part of my childhood memories, rather than an everyday part of my life. But why?
A series of poor choices
Life has its ways of bully us into becoming lazy. Giving up the bike was encouraged due to increasing ‘danger’ on the roads. I was fortunate enough for my parents to set me up with a driving instructor. As a young adult with a drivers licence in hand, what possible reason would I have to cycle everywhere? At the time I had a 12 mile journey to college, and eventually a 7 mile journey to university, yet despite the crippling traffic, chronic shortage of parking and rising fuel costs I was charmed by the automotive industry and thought the most sensible approach was to journey these by car. I don’t know how people formed these horrible habits, or how driving cars has encroached so far into most peoples lives, but looking on it from the outside as a cyclist, I no longer get it! Driving is no longer easy, convenient or cheap, so why do people persist?
The attitude of getting everywhere by car, bus or train, or not at all, is so ingrained into us all that the bike isn’t even a consideration for transportation for most people in the UK. According to the CTC national cycling charity, nearly 43% of UK’s population own a bike. Yet only 8% of people cycle 3 or more times a week, and even worse, only 34% of people can admit to cycling at least once a year. Who are these other 66%? Get of your lazy rear ends out of the couch on wheels and ride!
Car culture is bringing this nation to its knees, nobody seems to bat an eyelid while our roads are full to bursting with the amount of cars on the road, yet the average journey made by anyone is only 7.1 miles. The average person could cover this distance on a bike in 40 minutes. Yet during rush hour, inner city driving would probably take far longer in the car. All this driving has serious implications for our health, environment and wealth (as individuals and as a nation). While cycling will never be suitable for every journey made by every individual the answer to all our problems, The answer to many of our daily woes is simple, switch to riding a bike for those local journeys.
I’m not 100% sure where this blog is going just yet, but please join me for the ride (pun intended!). I plan to share some helpful guides and how to’s for those both new and old to cycling. Whether that means empowering individuals with the knowledge and equipment needed to finally commute to work, or go on a quick trip to the local shops, or even just for improving general fitness. I’ll bring you some great product reviews that will get you out on the road or out on the track with minimal expense.