*** This is a guest post by my friend Victoria Neilson. It turns out that I’m not the only person in Auckland who cycles to pole-dancing classes ***
My husband, Derek, me, and our silver Subaru Impreza had been the comfortable two people plus one car Auckland family until we moved into our first house. My work was no longer on the way to Derek’s, which means dropping me off work would increase his journey from 8 minutes to 40 minutes.
As the nice husband Derek is, he doesn’t mind such annoyance. However, I do. But he indeed needs the car because he has many site visits whereas I normally just sit in front of my work computer and run Matlab.
My first attempt to solve the problem was to carpool with some of my workmates who lived nearby. However, it turned out as much maths modelling as most people are bored by as I has to go to work 30mins earlier than needed and often leave 30–60mins later than others. For a while I went to work with a mechanical engineer (who gets up early) and came back with a software engineer (who goes to bed late). This was quite annoying as I had to frequently organise things with 2 people. It was especially inconvenient when the fridge was empty and I needed to do some quick shopping for dinner in the evening, as I had to beg my colleague to stop at shops and wait for me.
It was looking as if we had to join the majority living in the city – get a second car. But this just seemed to be so unnecessary as my work was only about 10-20 minutes drive away. The added cost of the car, petrol, registration and maintenance just doesn’t seem to justify the purchase.
So a few weeks ago I said to Derek: I’d like to transport myself with a bicycle. We then went to the local Avanti shop and bought myself a mountain bike, some road tires, a helmet, a hi vis jacket, some lights and a lock. Everything together cost $1,000.
I’m no expert in bikes. All I know is that my bike has disc brakes, a fairly light body (probably because it’s a small bike) and 24 gears.
Going to Work and Grocery Shopping
The least busy and most efficient cycling route I figured out from home to work is about 5.1km long and Google suggested it’d be a 20mins cycling trip, which later turned out to be fairly accurate.
It has been great to get to work early in the morning on a bike. My muscles are well exercised before I spend the next 8-9 hours sitting down. It’s such a brilliant way to start the day.
My office is a very male dominated work space so soon enough I realised I’m the only person using the girls shower. Since I work for an appliance company, I can simply just dry my gear in a dryer if they get too wet and be ready before I ride home in the afternoon. Everything seems to be just perfect.
A small shopping trip on the way home normally adds an extra 10mins on the road but a large portion of that comes from waiting to cross a main road or dealing with cars.
I didn’t use to visit these local shops as the roads around them are quite awkward to drive around and countdown is only 5mins drive away from my house. However, on a bike they were much easier to get to. It turned out that the butcher has a much bigger and better selection of meat than normal supermarkets at cheaper prices. The vegetable store, while not necessarily as well presented as the supermarkets, definitely has some real good deals. The bakery is run by a hot Chinese girl and they have some real interesting stuff that you can’t get from normal bakeries, such as greentea flavoured mooncakes.
I hated shopping in Countdown. It seems to target specifically at large families as all their specials are always applied on large numbers of merchandises. But now I can get to the local stores much easier, we get to enjoy much better food at fairer prices. Last weekend we roasted a free range chicken with rosemary stuffing, then had chicken toasted sandwiches and used up the rest of the chicken in 2 chicken pies. Everything added together costed no more than $20 and that was for 2 dinners and 2 lunches for 2 people.
Sports and Other Activities
I play a bit of volleyball during my spare time, both indoor and beach. A year ago I also started to take pole dancing lessons for fun. I know what you think but I have my own rules regarding to this which is never pole dance outside the dance studio or my house.
The usual place we play beach volleyball is actually in a nearby park where they have this lovely sandpit, and the pole dancing studio is very close to the park.
The distances between my house to these two places are about the same and it takes about 30mins to get to them. I later figured out a back way to get to these places which is through a foot bridge that cars can not get to. This has shortened the journey by a long way.
There is so much more I can write about how great cycling is. It’s great for the environment, saves us lots of money on petrol and changes our lifestyle massively, in a good way. Derek now can get an extra 30mins sleep in the morning and is much more relaxed on when he wants to come home in the afternoon. We now eat better food and go out at most once a week compared to 3-4 times/week in the past because it’s just so convenient to cook at home! Ok I can go on forever about all the benefits but I guess you must be getting tired of reading it now so I will just mention one last benefit: cycling keeps me in shape.
There is a smallish scale at work that has a weight limit of 60kg. Out of curiosity as I haven’t weighed myself for nearly a year and partially because I was a bit of a show off, I got on the scale in front of some of my colleagues a couple of days ago. I was in my boots and winter clothes so frankly I was slightly worried about upsetting the scale.
But the scale was fine and it showed I weighed 53kg. That was my weight 15 years ago when I was still in school. I’m pretty sure all the cycling I’ve done in the past few weeks had a lot to do with this. =)