Cycling to work has, here in the UK, has never been more popular.
It offers health benefits, green credentials, and the option to avoid sitting angrily in traffic. And that’s before you factor in the chance to commit mild tax fraud with impunity.
Many work places run a cycle to work scheme, through which you can buy a brand spanking new bike whilst paying no tax on it whatsoever. Conveniently, you only have to claim to ride the bike to work; proof is not needed. The fact is that if all these people actually cycled to work our roads would now be clogged up with bikes, not cars.
Either way, tax loophole or not, you cannot deny that the cycling commuter is on the rise.
In true Darwinian fashion there is one who has risen above the crowds and carved out their own niche in the cycling habitat, whose biking behaviour on a twice daily basis singles them out as a rider of rare commitment; I am talking about the super-commuter.
Personally, I’m a walker to work, and as I stroll around the corner at the end of my street each morning my local super-commuter swings into view, predictably and timely, like one of Jim Carrey’s neighbours in the Truman Show.
Judging by the direction he’s heading, his impressively wiry physique, and the fact that I know a man who knows him, I’m led to believe that he rides around 20-25 miles per commute (one way). Even with my limited maths I can tell you that’s 40 or 50 miles a day, giving him a weekly commute total of 200-250 miles.
Add that to any mileage he racks up over the weekend for fun and we are talking one serious mile-muncher.
Hour after hour on the bike has whittled him into a perfect union of man and machine; it’s difficult to imagine him performing any task that doesn’t involve pedalling.
It’s possible he never got around to learning to walk, having leapt aboard a balance bike as a toddler and barely ceased pedalling since.
He rides with a fixed impassive expression, serene, in his element, and unflustered. If he has a cold or a dose of the dreaded man-flu I suspect he simply leaves home fifteen minutes early to mitigate any potential poor performance on the bike.
If you asked him how many miles he rode last week he’d say, well, I went on the club run on Sunday morning, that’s all.
Apparently not counting the two hundred odd miles he rode Monday to Friday; this is just the daily commute and hardly worth a mention.
I imagine things change once he reaches his place of work, where he flounders, incompetent, away from the pure simplicity of the bike. His serotonin levels no doubt drop steadily as the day passes, until by late afternoon he is rendered uncooperative and incomprehensible by his drug like need for vigorous aerobic exercise.
Once released from the constrictions of a day at work he is back on the bike and emitting the calm demeanour of a Zen Buddhist. Busily righting the imbalance brought on by a desk job in a stuffy office and a dozen colleagues who think a new by-pass is the solution to the stress of the morning commute.
The super-commuter knows differently.