In the Spring of 2013, I finally stopped procrastinating and started cycling to work and back, instead of driving. I didn’t do it every day to begin with, but now I cycle my daily commute 99% of the time. This small lifestyle change has made me so much fitter, and it has also lead to some surprisingly huge numbers.
Mileage and time
Initially, my round trip was 32 miles, which was a struggle for me, as I hadn’t ridden very much at all for many years. Since we moved house, the round trip has been reduced to a very manageable 20 miles. I work compressed hours, my 5-day work week squashed down into 4 longer days, so by the miles, I do 80 per week. Knock off 5 weeks annual leave, and the odd work from home day, and I think I cycle in for around 45 weeks of the year. This equates to 3600 miles/5795km – or from my front door in England to Timbuktu in the West African country of Mali!
In terms of time, it takes me 45 mins to cycle the 10 miles, which is 25 minutes slower than driving outside of rush-hour, and the same time as driving in it (sometimes it can take up to an hour!). So, the reality is that it only took the small lifestyle change of setting my alarm clock 25 minutes earlier (just 25 minutes!) to allow for the following surprising statistics to unfold…
By the feet
I’ve mentioned Georges Lane before now, and it’s the name of that hill which has given rise to the name of this blog. He’s a steep bugger, to say the least. I noticed on Strava that someone has christened that hill ‘George’s Balls’ – sounds about right! And it is predominantly this hill that has generated some really interesting numbers. The hill is an up-and-over and then down the other side type, so I get it both ways, there and back. The total ascent for my rides per day is 899 feet. Per week this is 3596ft, and per 45-week year, 161,820ft. So I plotted the numbers into a geeky spreadsheet that I made to see how my ascents added up compared to the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, collectively known as The 7 Summits. This is what I found out:
So I’ll ride up Kilimanjaro eight times each year, cycle up the mighty Aconcagua an unbelievable seven times, and gasp my way up Everest a staggering five times! I was utterly shocked when I crunched the numbers. If all of the summits’ individual heights are added up, that’s a grand total of 142,114ft, meaning I’ll cycle nearly 20,000ft more than their combined height in a year too. The strength benefit to my legs from this is probably enormous (I’ve no idea how to work it out, if anybody knows, please leave a comment), and I’m more than convinced that it is this backbone of cycling which enables me to run the ultra marathons without having to run huge distances each week.
And all possible due to me getting out of bed 25 minutes earlier.
In addition to the health and fitness benefits, commuting by bike saves me around £800 per year on fuel, plus all the other associated wear and tear on a car. Since doing this, Sharon and me have been able to go down to a one-car household, so have saved so much there too. The bike itself cost me £600, which for me is a lot of money to splash out on a bike. But here in the UK, many companies operate a Cyclescheme, which means you can buy a bike for up to 25% off the original price and spread the cost over 12 months. For me, it was £50 per month very well spent.
I’m a huge advocate of the idea that small lifestyle changes done with consistency and regularity will add up to remarkable things. I really am a very average bloke, yet I’m able to run 50 and 100-mile races. I’m also very stubborn. If I decide I’m going to do something, I do it. So if a very average, stubborn bloke can cycle the 7 Summits and run stupid distances for fun, what can you do? What lifestyle change have you been procrastinating about, and what stops you beginning? I encourage you to start. The act of beginning leads to doing and this can take you to some amazing heights…