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Cyclescheme 7 for long distances. The size and weight made me go for a Brompton. Of all the folding bike brands I tried out, Brompton offered me the smallest footprint and also the lightest option with their Titanium variant. “I bought it through the Cycle to Work scheme, which was mentioned when I was offered the position in my current company as one of the workplace benefits.” Since getting the Brompton, Beto hasn’t looked back, cycling to work every day in all seasons and conditions and revelling in the freedom that riding offers. “I love the speed, the feeling of getting to places with so little effort,” he says. “I love how alert it forces you to be, always looking at your surroundings so you’re aware of everything around you – instead of falling asleep in a bus or in the tube. “I love the constant sightseeing, passing by London landmarks and never getting tired of them. I always glance at Tower Bridge when I cross London Bridge, and I love how the bicycles are just immune to traffic.” Beto’s daily commute is typical of the teeming thousands of people who travel into London from the suburbs. But for him it’s more of a beneficial physical and mental exercise than a stress-inducing slog. “My commute starts at Croydon,” he says. “I take my folded bike down the stairs from my second-floor flat, unfold, and then cycle 10 minutes to East Croydon station. “Most of the roads are residential and quiet, except for a few hundred yards which run on a narrow and busy single carriageway with no marked cycle lane. I share space with buses and lorries. It gets quite busy the first part of the morning. There’s also a rather uncomfortable right turn which

Fact file

Name: Beto Montejo Lives: Croydon Occupation: Software engineer Commute: Three parts – cycle from home to station, train, cycle to office. The first stage is mostly on residential and quiet roads, then in the city it’s very busy. Total cycling distance of about five miles. Frequency: Five days a week. Cyclescheme bike: Brompton Titanium. Why I started cycling: I got tired of how crammed the buses and tube got during peak times. The amount of money and time lost on this was unacceptable.

makes me wish I had eyes in the back of my head. “During peak time, there’s a generous amount of trains that go through East Croydon towards London Bridge non-stop. I always get to comfortably place my bike in the luggage rack or in a corner. Sometimes I also get to sit, which is a luxury! “I get off at London Bridge and from there it’s a 15-minute cycle to the office. I get the chance to pass a few London landmarks: London Bridge, Monument, Bank, St Paul’s, Holborn Circus and then up Gray’s Inn Road. “It’s a very busy route, lots of buses but also lots of cyclists so there is safety in numbers. Total commute for each trip is about 45 minutes, of which 20 is in a train, with a cycle distance of

about five miles. “My office is near Chancery Lane. I fold the bike up again and bring it with me to my desk where I store it underneath. “With a regular bike, I could not do half of those steps – bringing it up and down the stairs, up to the office and on the train during peak hours. The Brompton just makes things easier and more practical. “I’m a casual cyclist. I only cycle part of my commute so I don’t feel the need to wear Lycra for the short trips. I do have facilities at work to take a shower and change but I don’t use them since I hardly sweat on such short trips. “After a few weeks I did feel fitter. In the beginning my legs used to hurt a bit at the end of the week, but now I don’t feel a thing.” He has no regrets about taking advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme and buying his bike. If he didn’t cycle, what would his commute be like? “Miserable, long and boring. It would take almost twice the time if I didn’t cycle, not to mention it would also be almost twice as expensive.” Beto, then, is a confirmed cycling commuter convert. What’s his advice for anyone considering following his example? “It’s never too late to cycle; you’re never too old, ” he says. “Cycling will save you tons of time, time that you can use elsewhere. You’ll just love it the moment you figure out that you won’t depend on anybody else to get to places – and that you’ll be immune to traffic.” And now he’s got the bug he’s even considering extending his fiveday-a-week habit into a recreational weekend hobby. “Of course,” he says. “Maybe I’ll be fit enough to do a sportive one day!” www.cyclescheme.co.uk

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Cycle Commuter #17  
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