Cyclescheme is the UK's most popular cycle to work benefit, creating more cyclists than any other provider.

Steve Malone - West Midlands

Steve Malone - West Midlands

I am a super commuter! I roll my steel horse to and from work every day come rain or shine, bendy bus bomber or mobile phone and sat nav tapping minicabber.

I'm there, holding the line and pumping the pedals to and from work 6 days a week, usually riding on the seventh but making a caf̩ and not a desk my destination. Since taking over a new team I have converted 5 colleagues to the joys of the daily commute, relieving the earth's burden of 11 kilos of fat in the process the figure is going up, monitored on our wall based 'fat map'.

My car cost me £400, it covered 1009 miles last year, my bike cost £600 and covered 9,950 miles last year. Pasta is cheaper than petrol; my wife might argue about the emissions though! Having successfully campaigned for my organisation to retain the C2W scheme my aim for 2014 is to run a 'commuting team', converting 22 drivers into riders, regardless if it's one commute a month or every day, I hope my offer of an early shove off to change boots for bibs and shirts for jerseys is incentive enough! 

Challenge No2:

The hesitant cyclist!

We asked the Super Commuters to approach a hesitant cyclist in their workplace and talk to them, in a bid to understand any barriers that stand in the way of getting them in the saddle and riding to work. Here is how Steve got on!

Steve approached a collegue called Chris and asked him the following questions:

1) How far do you live from work?
I currently live ten miles away from work give or take a few hundred yards.

2) When was the last time you rode a bike?
Around 5 years ago, canal towpaths mostly. I just got used to the car and moving 10 miles away stopped me ever using the bike for work.

3 ) Do you like the idea of cycling to work? 
Yes, parking and petrol prices make the idea really appealing to me. I’m getting heavier every year and try to keep fit in my own time so using a commute could combine the 2!

4)Are there some things that put you off cycling to work with some regularity? 
Lots! Cars, they don’t see you and if they do they don’t care! The British weather puts me off, riding in the rain or being really cold is not a nice idea. The facilities at work are better now (thanks to you) so a nice hot shower takes the edge off it. Silly things like getting a flat tyre or just being really tired as well. We can never be sure we will finish on time so riding home at 2-3 in the morning is not too good after 14 hours on shift...

5) What achievable measures would encourage you to cycle to work more often? 
Better road networks and safer measures would help. Public transport which supports bike carriage like in Europe so I can get half way then ride the rest would be good. In terms of work; it’s much better. The showers and facilities are good now; we have a drying room for wet kit and bike shed so it’s much better. Some sort of financial incentive would be nice!

Action Plan

Specific – Your aim is to ride to work 6 times in May. Try 3 times using your bike and other means either in out or just one way and 3 times here and back. I’ll ride to your place and take journeys 4-6 with you.

  • Journey 1 –Ride the 4 miles to Nuneaton Station – Use train for rest of in trip and out
  • Journey 2 –Ride the 5.5 miles to Bedworth Station; use the train for the remainder.
  • Journey 3 – Drive to A444 junction and then ride the 6.3 miles in. Get a lift back to your car.
  • Journey 4 – Try the journey in and out but take it easy, take a quiet route – lift home
  • Journey 5 – Same as above but travel half way home as well (to Bedworth Station)
  • Journey 6 – Try in & out, take it easy

Measurable – Use Strava! Record your journey and make a note of how you feel the next day, you might be able to try more miles a bit sooner?

Achievable – You are already undertaking some exercise so this plan should be attainable.

Realistic – Yep, the train times all fit with our shifts, I’ll make sure you are off on time and if not I’ll sort a lift out so you are not stranded.

Time Scale – 4 weeks

Chris agreed to this challenge following my pointing out how many extra doughnuts he could get away with eating cycling 20 miles a day and that he could shun Asda for Crispy Crème with the £200+ he would save on fuel. Of course he agreed! Chris loves them doughnuts. I started off by pointing out that only Virgin Trains are bike fascists, the local trains are happy to take bikes and the short hops between local towns are no slower. I also reminded Chris that out public sector I.D gets us free local train travel. He became more interested by the minute. Having given his very retro Dawes a once over and spent a few pounds on clothing using a well-known website that rhymes with dribble Chris was ready to roll. I met Chris at home for his first ride to the station, upon getting there the fact that he does do alternative training and exercise shone through and he carried on all the way to work. First day; 10 miles off the bat at 14mph average! Chris used the train to get home as planned due some apocalyptic weather but a text the next day told me that would not happen again due to another few quid spend at a well-known German supermarket on some waterproof kit.

A few days later Chris arrived on his bike unscheduled and informed me he would be riding half way home, totally exceeding his action plan but I was not going to discourage him. The next day Chris arrived (looking leaner already), again on the bike and chatting excitedly about a 16mph average, a good 1mph higher than yesterday, and the fact he was rifing all the way home; a finger to the wind gave me a hint at the fate which may await his journey home. After our days off I saw Chris’s car. The wind had done its job on his ride home and his legs were still sore but he promised to ride in next day. Having already ridden 5 commutes in 2 weeks, smashing his action plan to pieces I reminded him not to go too crazy but that failed and Chris rode the rest of the week, in and out, 80 miles. And, that’s how it has carried on since. Chris is now a daily commuter, sometimes the wind, late finishes and early starts see him on a train but I still think that counts!

Chris SORNED his aged Audi today, he is now from a 1 car (on the road anyway) household and has not resorted to doughnuts and intends to spend the money saved on a sleek new bike. Strava has awakened the beast in him and he even rides on his days off. Result!

Challenge No1:

Review your Endura Luminite II Jacket:

First Impressions - The garment arrived well packaged in one of those massive zip tie bags that you keep ‘just in case you need it’. I’ve kept it, just in case I need it. Removing the jacket the first thing I noticed was the weight, I have been using an Altura Jacket for the past 4 years, it’s great but a hefty mountain bike oriented rip stop fabric, if I push on (i.e I’m really late) I quickly resemble a cheap boil in the bag chicken breast, lots of water coming out and a bit shrivelled up. The jacket is very light, but it’s also thin. I liked the abundance of reflective strips, rear mounted LED feature and foil over the velcro tabs to stop the fabric being pulled in transit.

How does it do? – I am a 39” chest and just over 6’ racing snake. The small fits me well and the sleeves are cut long to avoid the water in gloves issues. I have not managed to damage it yet but don’t think it will be in the same condition as my Altura in a few years, my rucksack has already caused a few worrying friction spots - now gaffer taped. I have found I needed an extra layer on my 05:45am run with this jacket but the wind proofing is better than expected for such a thin fabric. It can flap about at higher speeds but it’s not meant to be ‘aero’. The glove friendly good quality zipped pockets, internal deep pockets and big ‘boot’ (big zip up pocket in the spray flap at rear) are welcome additions. These big pockets are really handy and I’ve already used them to avoid using a bag on anything other that my first day back work clothes change over. The addition of a headphone port is one that will always draw comment, should ear phone use be encouraged? Not a discussion for now but I never heard any one criticised for driving with their windows up. The vent zips are long and very welcome in the current cold morning warm evening conditions. The hem point toggles are handy in the wet, the neck does have one, keep searching! My only grips was that the LED can become dislodged and I needed to remove it for use with a bag as it was being pushed into my back, it’s a nice feature but does need to be monitored, I would not rely on one tiny LED but some may and a rider would not notice the light had fallen until the end of the journey.

Overall – An excellent, lightweight but weather-proof jacket which works well in -3 to 17 temperature with correct layering; it has not been hot enough for me to test in truly warm weather but the full zip and vents are promising good things, the sleeve test proves that they can be rolled up to the elbows for that racers tan look. The visibility is excellent and the fabric stands out well in day light and darker conditions. Put a bit of gaffer tape over the LED and you have a near perfect commuting comrade.

Review your Roadhawk Camera:

First Impressions: The unit is well packaged and comes with easy to follow instructions. It’s nice to see they included all the leads, a mini SD card and SD converter so everything is good to go. The first charge only took 3 hours from my PC. Another nice touch is the multitude of charging leads included, the camera can be charged up in the car, via mains, usb etc.

In Use: Mounting the camera brings up some issues. There are some mounting brackets included but sadly none fit onto anything other than a BMX style pot helmet or motorbike/full face lid. I commute in a standard vented helmet and none of the mounts fit. Another issue being that I don’t really want a big mount stuck to my helmet as I’d only use the camera every now and then. I also have a ‘racing’ helmet , a full face for my mountain bike, and my commuting (heavier) lid. The mounts are fixed with a glue pad so can not be interchanged. I’d like is a bar mount but there is none included, I tried the sticky velcro strips on the stem but the camera just points at the sky and fell off after a few minutes use. Eventually I managed to fit a velcro strip to the back of my lid and use the small fabric mount to stick the camera on. When removed the velcro strip is no too intrusive. The on/off button is fairly small and needs to be held in for 5 seconds, its small and not glove friendly. I found it best to look at the indicator light with your helmet off, make sure it was recording then put on my lid.The unit is small and light, I didn’t notice it on my head; the early Go-Pro was noticeable on a helmet so it’s nice to see some progression.

Footage/Practicality – The footage from the camera is good. Clear with a long depth of field. The sensor reacts well to light changes and is acceptable in dusk/street light conditions. The memory capacity with an 8gb card is about the same as the battery life at 40ish minutes. Not very long but it’s a tiny and light unit. If the camera is for self preservation/evidential purposes you probably know your hot spots and can switch it off and on as required if using fingerless gloves. The sound quality is dire but not many cameras manage to filter wind noise very well. When stopped of at low speeds it does improve and speech can be made out.

Overall – For the size and weight the image is impressive. Sadly it’s not a cycle specific unit and the lack of bar mount makes it’s use fairly limited. Helmet footage is always a bit shaky and if your roads are anything like the tarmac I roll on there is a fair bit of vibration and movement in the footage. Bar mounted footage is always more stable and makes use on different bikes easier. .MOV footage took some converting on my PC but that is probably more down to my devotion to Windows 95 and trying to use an outdated movie player. I downloaded VLC Media Player for free and it works well with my ancient machine.


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