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My Cycle to Work Experiment

by Anshuman Sen
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Cycle to work

Cycle to Work- My Estyle

Updated with FAQ post queries from Dr. Vistasp Sethna

Update: As on 2 April 2019, exactly 10 weeks since my purchase, I have been able to recover the cost of the cycle. Saved 118 L of Diesel in commute rides at ₹ 8100.

My cycling journey started with commutes back in 2014. The love-hate relationship went on and off until December 2017 when I took up cycling for good. Over the last one year I cycled close to 12000 km with multiple long rides and BRM’s. However as my office was just 1 km from my place, I chose to walk down. This thing changed a bit in mid-November 2018 when I picked up an assignment at Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management.

The commute was a 24 km one way with a couple of climbs and a 1.4 km hill at 8% grade. This threw up multiple challenges and I almost gave up the idea of cycle to work. After a lot of struggle, I made a few changes and finally succeeded in making the cycle to work project for myself a success. Read on, probably you may find a few that are stopping you from cycling to work.

 

Challenges

Over the first 2.5 months I could manage to cycle to work only once every week out of the three days I was coming to college. There were many reasons and excuses.

 

The terrain was tough and I would end up getting late

My usual ride is of 23.5 kms with an elevation gain of 350 m. The last climb of 1.5 kms is a tough nut to crack. You must be wondering why Anshuman is fearing a climb. Well a college being a college does not have the most secure parking places. Which meant I could not get my Triban. The other option was getting the single speed BSA which would struggle on the climbs.

This single speed business would have been great in the city, but this terrain meant I was not managing to reach college on time. A slight hint of delay and I would hop on the car.

 

Changeovers

The last bit of the hill meant that I would be drenched when I reached college and definitely needed changeovers. Clothes, shoes and a definite wash up.

 

Cycle Safety

As I mentioned, the college offers an open parking space. I could never gain the confidence to take the Triban and leave it out in the elements. I had got the Triban after a lot of thoughts and it was definitely an investment.

cycle to work

That is the parking

 

Solution- Cycle to Work

I tried to break the mental barrier and managed to cycle to work back to back two days and realized that my knee was paining a bit. Put two and two together and found out that riding the single speed up the hill was definitely a bad idea.

I calculated my daily expense to travel by a car. At 47 km a day, with a mileage of 15 kmpl I was burning roughly 3 l of diesel. At the current rate around 210-220 INR daily. I travel to college 3 days a week. I calculated and drew up a budget of 8000-9000 for a new basic cycle. Even 6 speed would be good for me to climb a hill.

 

Riverside 100

Looked for multiple options and zeroed on the B’Twin Riveverside 100. A steel hybrid with 6 speeds. The cycle was available at a discount at 7,999 INR. A perfect fit for my needs.

Purchased the Riverside on January 20th, 2019.

 

How did I tackle the issues

Purchased a basic cycle

The Riverside cost just 8000 INR. Which is very cost effective in the cycling market. Also because this was a basic cycle, I was not worried about it lying in the elements. The 6 speed option was great for climbs as well as flats. Which ensured that I was being able to get decent average speed and not feeling tired.

Cycle to work

 

Saved time

Over time I realized that I was saving almost 15-20 minutes in the evening traffic. The morning ride was probably an extra 10 minutes over the car.

 

Changeovers

Well, I kept my shoes and a few things in my office locker. I carry my changeover in a bag pack daily. Sponge myself and get into a fresh piece of changeovers once I reach college.

How has Cycle to work helped me

 

Over the last 4 weeks, I have traveled to college by car only once. My combined diesel saving has been 66 l which is 4500 INR, more than 50% of the cost of the cycle.

 

Instead of spending my two hours of daily commutes sitting and cribbing in a car, I invest the same time in my fitness.

My college is in the outskirts, nested in between hills and villages. This means I get fresh air everyday morning.

As they would say, “ek teer, multiple shikar”

Oh and on days I manage to get up slightly early, I ride a few extra kilometers just for fun.

I would like to hear your cycle to work stories.

Follow me on Strava Anshuman Sen

 

FAQ’s from comments I received overtime

Q: How do you tackle slow-moving stop n go traffic?

A: I guess that is part of every commute. I at times pick the cycle and walk on the footpath or simply cycle through. No one in India seems to be using the footpath anyways.  

Q: Sponge with what?

A: I carry a small hand towel to sponge

Update: A gentleman on Facebook pointed me to this product. I ordered and I am quite impressed. using these now.

Q: Where do you keep the wet towel and cycling clothes to dry after changing.

A: Thankfully I have my own cabin and a cupboard. I reach 10-15 minutes early to college, clean up and put these to dry in my cabin. I use the quick dry cycling clothing hence they dry off easily. 

Q: How do they feel to get back into when its time to go home?

A: The clothes hardly get dirty in 20-25 km of riding. I don’t ride all out during commutes. I also ensure that I get a fresh pair every day. 

Q: What about the security of saddle (quick release), wheels, and lights/computer in college?

A: I have got a basic cycle, no quick release at all. Always ensure that I take the lights etc with me. I have to carry a bag for my clothes anyways, so keep my extra tubes and toolkit in my backpack.

Q: Do you use a breathing filter/mask or only your buff?

A: I have those neck warmers from decathlon which I use as a mask against dust and cold. However, my route is a hilly grade one and hence I need to peel it off to get some air in. 

Q: How do you manage with your office wear?

A: I carry a pair of changeovers in a backpack. 

 

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3 comments

Parvez February 26, 2019 - 12:39 am

Very nice Anshuman
You could join the WSSM race, which is on 10th March.

Reply
Anshuman Sen February 26, 2019 - 5:28 am

I usually have training sessions on weekends. Let me try and see if I could participate. Thank you.

Reply
How did I save 26 k in 2019- My Cycle to work experiment of 2019 January 1, 2020 - 6:19 am

[…] I have been cycling for commutes on and off since 2015. Back in November 2018, I joined my college, Symbiosis Institute of Digital and Telecom Management as an adjunct faculty and started cycling to college on my single speed bike. In January 2019, I decided to invest in a 6-speed basic bike to start my cycle to work more seriously. You can read the story here. […]

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