The daily commute or how to keep yourself happy.

Image courtesy of  Donjuanna on Flickr

I have discussed my daily commute before. As it is bloody cold, wet and dark at present, I have ceased my cycling for the moment and am relying on the combination of walking, train and tube again. Every morning when I stand waiting for my train, I marvel at the numbers of commuters cramming every 10 minutes into the train to London. These trains are not little 2 wagon affairs, now, they are appropriately 300 meters long and apparently have about 1000 – 2000 commuters  on it. As you can imagine, finding a seat can be very difficult, especially when the trains are late and everybody is trying to cram into the last standing space to be at work on time.

So, depending on the amount of space I have, I have devised an entertainment strategy to get through these mind numbingly boring 30 minutes in the morning (and evening)

What you need:

  • One Guardian (The Independent has become unreadable for all its ads and lack of content. It’s soon going to be extinct anyway)
  • One FM-radio enabled media player (or phone, in my case)
  • One media player containing podcasts and music
  • One book (preferably small paperback)

When the train pulls in, you quickly have to decide what will be the best way to entertain yourself, depending on the amount of passengers waiting with you and the amount of passengers already on the train.

A rough guideline would be:

  • Easy standing space (sharing the dedicated standing space in the middle of the carriage with maximum 4 middlesized men {women always find a seat. don’t ask me why. It’s a cosmic mystery}):  Fully extended Guardian plus some wake up tunes from the Ipod)
  • Moderate standing space (ca 6 men sharing): G2 and Music
  • Awkward standing Space: (ca 8 men sharing): Paperback and Music. This necessitates a paperback that can be held and used with only one hand.
  • Crammed standing space: (8+ men, no space to move whatsoever): Either Mediaplayer with a long podcast (30 minutes+  so you don’t have to touch the Ipod dial) or Radio 4’s “Today” show on FM Radio)

If you follow these easy guidelines, you too can have an entertaining and educational commute.

Just don’t forget to brush your teeth and use a bit of deodorant. For the rest of us.

Dahon Speed D7

Behold, my mighty new folding bike.

As I have recently moved to South East England and restarted to work in London, I decided to finally do something for my ever expanding waistline and save some serious money.

A win-win situation? You bet!

So, how was I able to accomplish this amazing feat? I bought a Dahon Speed D7 folding bike. Before making the acquisition, I checked out the numerous cycling forums (of which there are literally thousands), compared prices (from 100 pounds to 2000 pounds) and models (and if you think that nerds could be easily drawn into fisticuffs discussing Windows, OpenBSD and Linux then you should see the level of passion that users of Bromptons, Dahons and Birdies can get themselves into). Have a look at the folding society’s homepage, and you know what I mean.

With other words, it’s not easy being a first time folding bike buyer.

After pondering the issue for 2 months I decided on the Dahon Speed D7. The bike offered the best mixture of price, compactness, weight, quality and accessories. I will not bore you with any meaningless technical specifications that I don’t understand either, but the most interesting bits are:

  • Weight 11.7kg
  • Folded size 33 x 64 x 81 cm
  • 7 Gears

According to the manufacturer it’s the most popular folding bike in the world according to their sales numbers, and who am I to doubt them. So, how is the ride? Well, it’s exhilarating. I haven’t had as much fun going to work since living next to a penguin colony in New Zealand. Due to its tiny wheels (tire size is a meagre 20″ x 1.5″) its very, very easy to manoeuvre, thanks to its seven gears it hums along at a decent speed. With me having to cycle to the train and cycle from the destination station to work, I manage a daily round trip of 13 km. According to my calculations this will set me back 2000 calories a week, which should result in a weightloss of 1 kg in a month. That’s not bad at all, and it’s incredible fun.

And, because I don’t have to take the tube for the last 5 km, I save a cool 6 pounds every day, meaning the bike has already paid for itself after 2 1/2 months.

So, thumbs up for the Dahon Speed D7. If enough of us would ride these babies, London would be a more pleasant, cleaner and healthier place.