If Marc Casale's commute doesn't inspire you, nothing will. A 60 mile round trip in all weathers, surviving mechanicals and canal dunkings. Marc is a commuting legend, pure and simple.
Workplace: Central London
Tell us about your commuting rig:
A silver Revolution Courier Nexus ’10, with unfashionable, but essential, mudguards. Cost: £250 one year ago.
What’s your commute like?
A 60-mile, basically flat round trip taking him two hours each way, depending on the wind and the weather. In summer, he rides on the canal’s towpath from Slough to Brentford, then further onto the A4 and Chiswick Road into Central London. In the dark winter months he sticks to roads all the way. He leaves the house at 6am and is at his desk by 8.15am, he leaves work at 6 or 7pm and is back home two hours later.
How many days a week do you commute by bike?
About two to five times a week, in all weathers. He gets dirty anyway. If he doesn’t cycle, he commutes by motorbike, which is worse in the wet and the cold: the choice is between getting wet and cold, or wet and sweaty.
What do you enjoy the most about bike commuting?
Getting away from it all for a bit. It relaxes his mind, it blows the cobwebs away. It keeps him fit. After a long, sedentary day at work, he needs to feel the wind in his face, not suffer a stressful journey by train or motorbike. The car doesn’t come into the equation at all.
What’s your least favourite thing about commuting by bike?
I would say (knowing him): erratic behaviour by other road users, especially by cars. They squeeze you out, not always unintentionally, and sometimes play silly games. All he wants is to get to work without too much stopping and arrive safely. He has had several tumbles. He once landed on the wrought iron railings in front of Buckingham Palace. He took the train home that day. He doesn’t mind the bruises, but he does mind the damage to his bike.
What are your main reasons to commute by bike?
Saving money is a big reason, but he started cycling to get fit for the motocross season. Cycling on the towpath is good practice for your upper body, as well as getting used to riding on slippery mud. He’s also lost a lot of weight (about two stone) which makes a big difference. He usually carries a big, very heavy rucksack (containing water, dried figs, cooked pasta for lunch, sandwiches, cereal bars, bananas, chocolate bars, plus tools and spares) and being lighter makes it a lot easier on his daily marathon.
Have you got any funny or interesting bike commuting stories or experiences to share?
He has fallen into the canal a couple of times, usually to avoid pedestrians or because he lost traction in a corner of the towpath whilst going at full speed. It has happened both on the way to and from work. He’s had to fish the bike from the bottom of the canal (full of rubbish and duckweed), climb out himself and continue, completely drenched. Usually, he has a few cuts and deep bruises that only show up a few days later. The number of times he’s had to perform emergency surgery on the bike en route are uncountable. I could go on and write a book about his adventures…
What’s your killer commuting tip?
Use Armadillo or Schwalbe Marathon Kevlar-lined tyres. Eat pasta at work about half an hour before you set off. And ‘read’ the traffic well, so you stay ahead in the race to work (they’re all so competitive!).
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