the pros and cons of cycling to work

It’s easy enough to calculate how much money cycling to work saves me. I’m a civilian cyclist, not one of the hard nuts in Lycra and sinews like steel cables. It’s apparently called utility cycling.

Biking to work scores as an experience compared to driving if it isn’t raining, particularly at this time of year.  I get to hear the birds, indeed cycling regularly I get to even know some of them blackbirds individually by song.

I hear the high-pitched excitement of the nestlings as Dad comes to the nest bearing food, and the sparrows get up a racket in the hedge because it’s just what they do at this time of year.

Another plus is that a bike journey is very repeatable in duration. My journey time varies by less than a couple of minutes a day, probably from the one set of lights.

I had hoped that cycling might help me lose weight. I am someone who hated sports at school, and despise exercise unless it does something useful for me. Walking for the sake of it? Nah. Walking a few miles to go see something interesting or to shoot pictures in an interesting landscape, now we’re talking… Thus working out how to avoid the cost of a gym subscription has never been a problem for me. I don’t see the difficulty, pay good money to smell stale sweat and ache afterwards, what’s to like about that 🙂

The nasty little secret is that biking doesn’t do that much in terms of calorie consumption. Not the way I do it. I average 8-10 mph over a distance of 13 miles round trip. These guys reckon I use about 260 calories each way with leisure cycling, which I find hard to believe. That’s about a Mars bar a day each way, not that I eat rubbish like that any more. However, according to this post, I would use somewhat less than half that just sitting at my office desk, so the difference is a marginal 300 calories.

Whatever the reason, leisure cycling makes precious little difference. There’s only one way to lose weight and we all know what it is. You don’t need to pay anybody for a fancy diet plan or crap like that, just knuckle down and eat less. It works well enough for me but it takes months.

There’s no point in cycling like a nutcase because the time I save en route would be wiped out and then some by the time it takes to shower and change at work, and the experience would be worse so I wouldn’t keep it up.

For the keener cyclist there’s another financial incentive. It costs an outrageous amount of money to knock a couple of pounds in weight off a bike, going to titanium bits and bobs. Knock a couple of pounds off the rider does the same thing to your ride, costs nothing and won’t get nicked with the bike either!

That’s not to say cycling has no physical benefits. It does improve my fitness and stamina, and makes hiking easier.