Camino to work scheme. I think it’ll catch on…..

I think it’s about time I stepped up a gear, if you’ll pardon the pun…. The running is great but my challenge is to cycle 800km across spain on the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in October, so at some point I need to switch to two wheels in order to train effectively for the rest of the year. (apart from when I attempt the Great North Run!) So over the last few weeks I’ve been wearing the wifes defences down in order to get what all us married blokes call “permission” to buy a new bike.

Anyone who knows me will now be rolling their eyes skywards, my bikes are my babies and they live as close to my bosom as I can non surgically keep them. Just because having children made riding them more difficult it didn’t stop me loving them. The only tattoo I have (at the moment) is of a mountain bike…..

So when I decided the work commute might be achievable on occasion (when the wifes shifts, working hours and children duties allow) I knew I had a massive problem to start with. None of my bikes are suitable for the task. I’ve got mountain bikes. they’ve got mountain trail type gearing and mud plugging tyres and big sproingy (is that a word?) suspension. Britain’s roads aren’t THAT bad yet….. So I focused my attention on something that could eat the miles a little better.

Yeah I needed a roadie bike. razor wheels running elastic band width tyres and really weird roadie handlebars. That’s like swearing to a mountain biker. There are riders for roadie bikes and riders for mountain pluggers and never the twain shall meet. Really? actually that’s my teenage self talking. I just never thought I’d be contemplating a road bike. I avoided riding on the roads if I could. So many people have problems with their ability just to drive a car on them. But the higher gear ratios and lower rolling resistance of thinner tyres and power output of a fully rigid frameset made sense, I suppose. Time to welcome the devil to the fold….

But first, Jill insisted I sold one of my bikes to make room. I laughed! nervously. Then chose to ignore the fact that she said it. Then she told me that just because I had saved money by going pay-as-you-go on my iPhone (saving £35 per month by the way!) wasn’t free rein to spend the money elsewhere in the spoked department….. (Can you see she was stripping away all the best bloke excuses?) Ok, It was easier than I thought. This post isn’t designed to give lads a tick list of the right actions to take to pursuade your partner into letting you buy another cycle. Here’s some stuff you can try anyway:

1. Tell her riding a mountain bike on a road for the work commute is like driving a tractor on the motorway.

2. Eye up and set your heart on something around the £1,000 mark then halve it as a reality check. It shows you are limiting yourself and have control of the gadget urge. This shows the purchase is driven by your head as a necessity. Probably.

3. Continue to ignore those comments about selling the other bikes.

Good luck lads…

So, biggest hurdle out the way I now needed to look at ways to fund it. I settled on the Cycle to Work Scheme.

There are many cycle to work schemes running throughout the UK, If you are employed you can take advantage. To put it simply, your employer buys the bike not you, all you do is rent the bike for 12 months and the money is taken out of your wage before the taxes are. You save a fair chunk of money and in reality end the agreement with a small purchase payment to make the thing yours. The scheme has changed recently so it isn’t as generous as it once was but still worth a look. a couple of things worth noting:

1. The scheme and employers try to steer you towards a local bike shop so that they are on hand to look after repairs etc. Well on two occasions in the past I’ve fixed a local bike shops “repair” so put your foot down and shop where you like as long as they participate in the same scheme.

2. If the bike is on sale the shop may not include it in the scheme. This is usually because the scheme charges them a percentage of the bikes value to sell it through the scheme. So do your sums. End of year bikes (last years model) are always a bargain. any savings of 20% or so will still be worth telling the retailer to add the schemes fee back on, you’ll still get a good price and they will include the bike in the scheme.

3. Most shops will ask for a refundable deposit to hold onto a specific bike. This is due to the time it takes to sort out funding so they can release the bike to you. It can easily take a month to sort out.

4. watch the final purchase valuation. As you can see from the table anything over £500 and the final purchase payment you make will be a quarter of the bikes original value. Mine came in at £497. cunning……

However,

The  most attractive option for employees will be to pay a small, refundable  deposit (3% or 7% of the equipment value*) and continue to use the  bicycle for an extended period of up to 36 months.

At the end of  this period, Cyclescheme will refund the deposit if the employee does not wish to keep the bicycle.  No further action or payment is required if they  wish to keep the bicycle.

After  a year of roadside abuse I’m pretty sure my bike will be due some upgrades. Something you can’t do if you still don’t own it.

5. Your obligations are to insure your cycle. Because it’s not yours, it’s your employers. Specific bike insurance can cost as much as car insurance. You’ve been warned!

I’m up to the stage where my employer issues the certificate which I then exchange for my bike. I’ve chosen a Specialized Allez from Noah’s Ark Cycles. I’ve bought a bike from them before and they’ve been great, ring them and speak to George!

The most important thing is holding a new bike in your hands may be a great kick-start to riding more and going further this year. If that happens its only a good thing. I know I wont be wanting to get off my bike when I get to work. I always wanted to be a cycle courier in New York city, damn internet stopped the need for them and ruined my career prospects!

This blog: Tony Hemans and Glen Eccles will be cycling the Camino Frances from St jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela covering 800km in 6 days in October 2012. Tony hopes to raise a little for charity along the way as he prepares for the journey. His charities are; SANDS – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity, website: http://www.uk-sands.org/About-Sands.html and; CLIC sargent – for children with cancer, website: http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/Aboutus I’m not just bothering people for charity either so if you are trying to get fit, planning an adventure, long distance cyclist or just curious about my mid-life crisis then subscribe and share!
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