This is Fuji. She is my new sweetheart.
One of my new employers takes part in the Cycle Scheme, a government initiative to get more people cycling their commute to work. I already own a road bike – a late 80s Raleigh frame with Raleigh Custom A components, in need of a bit of TLC – but I want to do that up as more of a tourer to take out on (hopefully more regular) long rides. That means I needed a bike for zipping around London and commuting to and from work on. I also needed a bike that would withstand the potholed London roads and be as low maintenance as possible. The answer? Single speed.
No gears. No fuss.
As far as an off the peg single speed bike goes the Fuji Feather is a bit of a bargain. Super light, nice high ratio to whizz around town, aggressive handlebars, neat and responsive – I’m in love. This 2012 model RRP’d at £550, but I got it on sale for under 500 and purchased it through the Cycle Scheme, allowing my boss to subtract monthly repayments for the bike directly from my salary. My one year London travel card expired a week ago and so Fuji is now my primary mode of transport: cheaper than a travel card, better for my health, and a hell of a lot more fun than the tube during rush hour. Luckily for me my legs are in good working order because I’ve ridden 104 miles in the last week alone getting to work and home again.
I got myself a new helmet and a decent bag through the scheme too. My Eastpack rucksack just wasn’t cutting it when it came to lugging clothes and books across London so I got myself a Chrome messenger bag. They’re not cheap (mine was reduced to £109.99), but they’re as sturdy as they get. It’s waterproof, has pockets aplenty, a well padded shoulder strap, a decently positioned stabilising strap, reflective detailing, and is big enough for a laptop, files of work, several books/DVDs for teaching, a D lock, and a change of clothes. What more could I ask for?… Possibly that they invest in designing a female specific one, because my right tit did not appreciate riding miles over potholed roads with 10kg of weight digging into it… But that aside this bag is awesome.
I’m a big fan of cycle commuting (I only got a travel card for the tube when I moved further out of London for a year), but these first 2 weeks back in the saddle have reminded me of a few things I had forgotten:
1. It’s knackering.
It’s a 12 mile round trip – hardly a marathon. But getting up at 7am, getting a 30 minute run in by 8am, and then bombing 6 miles across East London on the bike and back is taking its toll. My quads are aching like a mother… It’s time to unpack the foam roller.
2. It makes me hungry all the time.
I’m eating a very generous breakfast after my morning run (8.30am), a pasta based lunch before work (12.30pm), and a jacket potato with some sort of protein/vegetable combo for dinner in the staff room (6pm) with fruit and yoghurt, and this week extra mid-morning snacks of wholemeal toast (10.30am). Yet I am still hungry. I don’t get a break at work during my 2 – 10pm shift except for dinner at 6pm, and so by 5 I am ravenous and all my colleagues begin to look very, very edible… I’ve tried eating a banana when I get off the bike, but to no avail. Cycling has turned me into a piggy. Tonight I bought a sandwich and a bag of crisps and an extra yoghurt, which I ate in addition to my regular dinner and I’m still not that full.
3. I look like shit.
Helmet hair is not a good look.