British Cycling member Andy works in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire - a place completely surrounded by hills - making his daily round a pretty challenging one. He's also got a funny story about a horse.
Above: Andy's picturesque commute - at this time mercifully free of falling horses.
Name: Andy King
Workplace: Hebden Bridge
Tell us about your commuting rig: Planet X Kaffenback - random collection of parts from (mostly) Tiagra to Ultegra (just the rear hub). Built for reliability, not speed.
What’s your commute like? 16 miles each way, sometimes extend the ride home to between 20 and 30 miles. Hills feature! 1000 feet on the way to work, 1300 feet on the way home. Much more on extended commutes.
How many days a week do you commute by bike? Two to three days a week. I managed 100 commutes last year, way behind that schedule this year following our snowy, icy extended winter.
What do you enjoy the most about bike commuting? Getting my exercise fix in while I would otherwise be sat in the car.
What’s your least favourite thing about commuting by bike? Crap driving. Awful road surfaces.
What are your main reasons to commute by bike? Mostly for fitness and general love of all things cycling. So that my non-commuting rides can be just for the fun of it and don’t have to be for fitness at all.
Have you got any funny or interesting bike commuting stories or experiences to share? A couple of weeks ago a horse nearly fell on me. I was riding up the hill at about the third lamp post in the attached photo. There was an almighty thud just behind me and when I looked back, this horse was lying on its side in the middle of the road with bits of broken fence all around it. It eventually stood up, but with the air of a drunk on a high street looking for a kebab shop. A bit disoriented, not absolutely certain of its whereabouts, but sure as hell there was somewhere it needed to be that didn't have a white line running down the middle of it. I don’t know if it had just been leaning against the completely rotten fence just above the wall, or if it had stumbled from further up the banking.
I leant the bike against the lamp post and approached cautiously, not sure if the biting or the kicking end was more dangerous. The first car on the scene (fortunately, it wasn’t busy just then) parked up on the other side of the animal and we corralled it into the lay-by on the right of the road. Having got it there, my co-rescuer jogged off to the closest farm while I tried to supply comfort and keep it from going back on the road. The horses buddies coming to the still intact part of the fence to exchange notes seemed to calm it a bit. Gradually it calmed down, allowing me to hold on to its halter and stop it from going off to play with the traffic.
To cut a rather duller end of story short, the farmer turned up (a bit reticent about claiming ownership, perhaps still worried about being sued for allowing a half ton of potential lasagne to play on the road), cut open a corner of fence which Dobbin cheerfully trotted through. The fence temporarily mended, I made my excuses and left.
What’s your killer commuting tip? Just do it. Get into your cycling kit without looking out of the window in the morning. No dithering.
Are you a British Cycling member? If so how does your British Cycling membership support your bike commuting? Yes. A bit of insurance and legal support (hopefully never needed) and a bit of campaigning at national level.
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