A winter resolution, update 4

August 20, 2009

Earlier: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Winter is almost over — I hope. On today’s bike ride into work I climbed up from Hataitai and then sailed down the northern slopes of Mt Vic and tried not to be distracted by the beautiful sunlight glistening on the harbour.

For those of you who just joined us, a couple of months ago I decided that I was spending too much on buses and taxis. I realised that fear of getting wet and the amount of gear I hump around were barriers to using my bike every day. So I costed out panniers and a carrier and a rain jacket, and worked out they would pay for themselves in a few weeks — as long as I rode every day.

I toughed it out through June and July, and now in mid-August I’m definitely in the black. It is pleasant to think as you trundle home: I saved six dollars today.

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Even in a rainy Wellington winter, your chances of riding in a good storm are pretty low. In three months, I’ve only got really wet maybe twice. So I feel vindicated in not spending a whole heap on full-on wet weather kit. Of course this assumes you have a little flexibility about picking when you leave…
  • Once you are used to cycling every day, you lose the the “oh cripes I have to saddle up” feeling. It’s just a normal way of getting around now, and it isn’t onerous.
  • The bicycle beats the bus most of the time.
  • Even if you get other exercise, adding 45 minutes of cycling to your day makes a really noticeable difference to your fitness.

Because I am scrupulously honest (except when I’m not) I confess I haven’t quite lived up to my initial resolution. One thing I haven’t managed to do yet is use the bike to get to the Sunday markets. The reason is that I have regular early afternoon commitments on Sunday, so it’s just proved to be a little logistically tight. But I’ll give it a crack soon, promise.

A final observation: as we noted earlier, Bruce Sterling suggests that we should only own:

  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.

For me my Ortlieb panniers are in all three categories. Of all the purchases I have made in the last year, I think I’ve got most jollies out of them by a considerable margin.



  1. I am in the process of buying a vintage bicycle (very cheaply) It has paniers and a carrier and I am going to get a basket too. You are an inspiration

  2. Bruce Sterling’s sterling advice may be based on 19th century artist & designer William Morris’s exhortation to ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ (He may not have been a fan of emotional attachment, I suspect.) It’s a maxim I use when tidying up: if it’s ugly but useful it can stay; if it’s beautiful but useless ditto; if it’s both at once it’s headed for the bin.

  3. When I am clearing out, for a move say, as I will be again very soon, I ask myself about each thing: am I thankful for this?

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