Ever wondered how your commuting experience differs to others? Each month we share the story of a real Cyclescheme commuter and ask them seven questions to sum up their experience from their two-wheeled commute. This month, it's Paul from Southampton.
It's not often we get to hear, first-hand, how cycling to work can make a difference to your lifestyle. We all know that it's good for you and that it's environmentally responsible, but it’s always encouraging to hear a personal account from someone who has made the change from four wheels to two.
Each month we'll be featuring one Cyclescheme participant and hearing their story. We’ll ask the same seven questions (hence the name, The Cyclescheme Seven) in a bid to build up a picture of cycle commuters across the UK. From John O'Groats to Lands End we're scouring the country for the real cycle commuters who take to their bike each morning. We want to share the inspiring and, sometimes funny, stories that people have. If you'd like to feature on our website, just drop us a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org with "I'm in' in the subject line.
This month, we caught up with Paul from Southampton to find out how his cycle commute has changed his life.
Pictured above, (left) Paul kitted out ready for a Sportif, (right) with his three children setting off for a weekend ride.
CS: Where in the UK are you?
Paul: I live in Southampton, Hampshire
CS: What was your main motivation for getting a bike through Cyclescheme?
Paul: I had been thinking about getting a bike for over a year to help lose weight, as I was just over 19 stone in August 2009. In the weekly newsletter at work they had an article about the cycle to work scheme, and after reading it I decided to finally get one, and use it to cycle to the train station, a total return trip of 8 miles.
CS: What bike did you get and why?
Paul: The first bike I purchased using the scheme was a Trek Mountain bike, at the time I didn’t know anything about bicycles, and decided a hard tail mountain bike would be the best all round bike for me, as I could use it on and off road!
CS: How much did you spend with your Cyclescheme certificate?
Paul: I have now used the cycle scheme twice, the first time spending a total of £600 on a bike and cycling accessories, and in July 2011 I purchased a Marin Lombard Cyclocross bike for £800 to use as my Winter bike (I now have three bikes)
CS: How often do you commute to work by bike?
Paul: I commute every day, all year round; I really regret it when I need to take the car.
CS: Where do you commute from and to?
Paul: Instead of just cycling to the nearest train station I now cycle 15 miles from Southampton to Winchester, catch the train to Basingstoke and cycle a further 2 miles to my office, totalling 34 miles a day, and in the summer months I cycle from Southampton to Basingstoke, 38 miles each way at least once a week.
CS: How has cycling affected your daily life - do you feel healthier? Have you saved money?
Paul: Cycling has not just affected my life, it has become part of it, as my wife loves to say, I have become a cycling geek! In March 2010 I purchased a road bike in order to train for a charity cycle with my work and 4 months later cycled from Brussels to Frankfurt, about 315 miles in four days. I now cycle everywhere, and at every chance. As a family I will take my 3 kids out using a bike seat and trailer, and cycle to the beach or to the woods with a flask of coffee and a pack lunch. I have lost nearly 3 stone in weight and enjoy taking part in the 100 mile sportive in the new forest, completing my last one in just under six hours. I currently save £30 a week in travel expenses and my need for speed has meant that I have finally kicked my social nicotine habit. I would not only recommend using the cycle scheme, I would say it’s one of the easiest and most positive ways to change your life for the better.