Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
a06275
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Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby a06275 » 1 Aug 2019, 8:51am

Hi guys,

I'm a big guy and am wanting to use cycling as a way of getting fit/healthy. I used to be a fairly avid cyclist about 10 years ago (20-40 miles most weekends and once/twice a week 10-mile-each-way commute to work), although I was still very big (24 stone). Unfortunately, since marriage and kids, I've pretty much stopped entirely now and am a couple of stone heavier to boot.

The problem I have is that I went to Center Parcs recently and experienced electric bikes, and am now a convert. My intention is to use my company's bike to work scheme to buy one, but I cannot work out how I can reasonably do the commute. These are my options:

1) Cycle as much as possible
Route:
  • Cycle from home to Maidenhead station
  • Take bike on train from Maidenhead to Paddington
  • Cycle from Paddington to Moorgate
Problems:
  • I'm too large for a folding bike (I'm currently 26+ stone), so I can only realistically ride a non-folder.
  • Full-size bikes can only be taken in/out of Paddington between certain hours. While I get an early train in (arriving 0635), the earliest I could get back to Paddington would be about 1645 so that's outside of the allowed hours for full-sized bikes on the trains

2) Cycle from Paddington
Route:
  • Drive to Maidenhead station and park
  • Cycle from Paddington to Moorgate
Problems:
  • Given that I'm going to be potentially buying a £2k+ electric bike, how can I possibly find somewhere safe to leave it at Paddington?
  • While I could justify the spend by offsetting it against the saved station parking costs, this doesn't remove those costs, therefore making it all a lot more expensive

So, what do I do? I can't think of any other viable alternatives, but am hoping that you guys who do this stuff all the time can think of some ways around it! All help greatly appreciated. I would point out, for anyone concerned, that I've recently had a full cardiac investigation and been given a total all clear to exercise, so effort isn't the problem ... the electric bike is to avoid being a sweaty mess when I get to work!

st599_uk
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby st599_uk » 1 Aug 2019, 2:29pm

Are you allowed to book a bike reservation on a 225 or similar, then the bike would go in the guards van?
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slowster
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby slowster » 1 Aug 2019, 3:30pm

How far do you live from Maidenhead station, and what is the terrain like?

If it's a mile or two (or three or even four), and it's not so hilly that it would be too much for you to do at present with your current weight and fitness, I would suggest buying a cheap and cheapful non-ebike for that ride, which you could leave locked up at Maidenhead station. A basic reliable second hand bike should do (it's also less likely to be stolen, and if it is stolen, is less of a loss). There are often a lot of outfits that sell such bikes, e.g. http://cyclehub.org.uk/, and they should be able to help you select a bike suited for your current weight.

I would not personally bother cycling in London, because I never found it pleasant, and I think it's just not worth the risk (unless you have a route that you find both safe and pleasurable).

You could still buy the ebike, but keep that at home for rides in the evening and weekends. The fact that technically the Cycle2Work scheme requires the bike to be used more for commuting than other purposes is something no one really cares much about, and frankly if you only ever used it for fitness and pleasure instead of commuting, and lost significant weight in the process, everyone is going to take the view that that is a damn sight more important and worthwhile than sticking to the letter of the rules.

David9694
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby David9694 » 1 Aug 2019, 10:17pm

Is there any “mileage” in riding a Boris bike? I commuted into Paddington for a few months in 2012 and there are bike docks around there. I used to head along the side streets parallel to Euston Road, which wasn’t bad cycling. You could set yourself a goal of getting to a different dock and continuing by tube. If you can’t get a bike, walk down to Lancaster Road or maybe Baker Street tube. E bikes are even worse than regular bikes for secure parking.

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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby Vorpal » 1 Aug 2019, 11:16pm

a06275 wrote:[*] I'm too large for a folding bike (I'm currently 26+ stone), so I can only realistically ride a non-folder.
[*] Full-size bikes can only be taken in/out of Paddington between certain hours. While I get an early train in (arriving 0635), the earliest I could get back to Paddington would be about 1645 so that's outside of the allowed hours for full-sized bikes on the trains[/list]

They aren't cheap but Bike Friday do both electric assist & folding bikes for heavy riders https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bike ... r-upgrades. They cutomise options, so I might contact them to see if they can build an electric folder for you?
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a06275
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby a06275 » 2 Aug 2019, 8:07am

st599_uk wrote:Are you allowed to book a bike reservation on a 225 or similar, then the bike would go in the guards van?


I don't know! I'll phone GWR and see if I can get some more detailed info from them. Good idea though.

slowster wrote:If [...] it's not so hilly that it would be too much for you to do at present with your current weight and fitness, I would suggest buying a cheap and cheapful non-ebike for that ride, which you could leave locked up at Maidenhead station


Unfortunately there is a fairly major hill. Worth considering is that it's downhill on the way there, so I would only end up hot and sweaty at home, rather than the station, so possibly a workable compromise.

slowster wrote:I would not personally bother cycling in London, because I never found it pleasant, and I think it's just not worth the risk (unless you have a route that you find both safe and pleasurable).


This is a genuine factor that I should look into. I am in London pretty early (6.30) so I should be missing the major rush hour, but it's obviously still a busy city. I would definitely be checking out the routes and seeing what's available!

slowster wrote:You could still buy the ebike, but keep that at home for rides in the evening and weekends. The fact that technically the Cycle2Work scheme requires the bike to be used more for commuting than other purposes is something no one really cares much about


Again, this is a good point. I'm not sure if I could do it though ... I'm naturally a very honest person, and I would find this very uncomfortable to do.

David9694 wrote:Is there any “mileage” in riding a Boris bike?


I've used them a handful of times and they're definitely convenient, but they are really heavy and not very enjoyable to ride. I don't really think this would work for me at present. Point taken about the electric bikes "theftability" though.

Vorpal wrote:They aren't cheap but Bike Friday do both electric assist & folding bikes for heavy riders


Thanks, but if I do use the work scheme, then I'll be stuck with whatever Evans Cycles can offer. They at least have a fairly wide range, even if they would probably never be my preferred supplier!

***

On a different note, one thing I have been wondering about is how secure the bike parking is at Paddington. I chatted to a station guard yesterday who suggested that they almost never had thefts from the two bike parks (because I'm a season ticket holder and can use the "other" one), although I was certainly taking what he was saying with a big pinch of salt. Does anyone know good ways of verifying what he's said? Can one speak to the police, for example, to find this stuff out??

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mjr
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby mjr » 2 Aug 2019, 8:46am

There used to be a map of bike thefts on www.stolen-bikes.co.uk

If you search my posting history (click my name and then Search user posts), it has routes to various London stations. From memory, Paddington to Moorgate is easiest by CS3 and Quietway 11 but fastest by LCN0 which is the old Seven Stations Link on quieter roads parallel to Euston Road.

I do not know how safe an ebike would be parked in London so not sure I can be much help. Get one where you can take the battery with you and I guess what remains could be an unattractively heavy bike.
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Brucey
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby Brucey » 2 Aug 2019, 8:54am

you don't say what distance is involved riding to Maidenhead station? IIRC from Paddington to Moorgate is about four miles, and basically flat.

E-bikes are quite seductive and perhaps have brought you the point where you are thinking about cycling, which is all well and good.

But....IMHO the truth is that if you really want to get fit and/or lose weight they are often little more than a red herring.

Certainly this seems to be true for the Paddington to Moorgate leg; an e-bike doing 15mph will take a little under 20mins if you have a clear run. However even if you are only prepared to put in the same amount of effort as it takes to walk, on a normal bike, you will typically manage about 10mph on the flat, in which case it will take you about 25mins to do the same run. If you are not prepared to put in even this amount of effort then 'cycling' is arguably not going to do you much good anyway.

So my suggestion is to use a bike/e-bike for the run to Maidenhead station, and another (ordinary) bike for the Paddington to Moorgate run. This sidesteps the (not inconsiderable) annoyance of taking a bike on the train. The second bike can be a 'beater', a Boris bike, it really won't make much difference unless you are truly worried about five minutes. If not a boris bike this bike can look revolting (unappealing to thieves) and still be good enough. If you spend proper money on the Maidenhead bike, it needs to be locked, parked carefully, insured etc. That way it'll just be annoying if it gets pinched when it is parked, rather than expensive.

cheers
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 2 Aug 2019, 9:25am

Fully agree with Brucey.

Use a beater parked at Paddington, though, not a B**** bike. The latter are very difficult to find at Paddington at peak times - I’ve walked a mile in search of one in the past.
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Barks
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby Barks » 2 Aug 2019, 1:35pm

I commuted from Maidenhead to London (Westminster) through Paddington for a few years and used two cheap bikes, one at each end. Both were scratched second hand hybrids but drivetrains were good and I looked after them so reasonably efficient. No hills on your London route to speak off so no real need for an e-bike and if you live south or east of Maidenhead station then same applies there - if to North West side then e-bike would be helpful on the way home but not essential. I cycled up Grenfell Road on way home without any real difficulty, it just took a bit longer than the lovely downhill in the morning - wearing my normal work clothes throughout so this way round avoided any really sweaty clothes during the day.

Barks
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby Barks » 2 Aug 2019, 1:47pm

Forgot to mention there is a secure bike cage at Maidenhead Stn - 10yds down the alleyway to right of main Stn entrance.

londonbikerider
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby londonbikerider » 2 Aug 2019, 6:12pm

20 minutes from Paddington to Moorgate during working hours? That sound very optimistic!

Euston road would be the easiest road, but it's not great.
I am not very familiar with the "Cycle Highways" or whateverthey call them, but I'd probably try to go through back roads to Regent's park, Parkway/Camden, King's X then Pentonville rd. (it's uphill, sorry!) and City Road. I'd prefer the latter to Old street, is flat but busy and narrow.

David9694
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby David9694 » 2 Aug 2019, 11:22pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:Fully agree with Brucey.

Use a beater parked at Paddington, though, not a B**** bike. The latter are very difficult to find at Paddington at peak times - I’ve walked a mile in search of one in the past.


+ 1 with Brucey : an ebike isn’t a route to improved fitness. I’m grateful if they offer an alternative to the car and if they keep people who’d otherwise have to give up rolling, that’s good too.

I wonder what bike docks are like at 06:30, for our early riser. Maybe central London is relatively bearable at that hour, Earth Hath not not anything to show more fair, and all that

brynpoeth
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby brynpoeth » 3 Aug 2019, 7:59am

Move to a place near work
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francovendee
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Re: Help me get on my bike? Advice on commuting via Paddington

Postby francovendee » 3 Aug 2019, 8:40am

I visit London often, having family living near Marble Arch.
In my opinion cycling in London is very dangerous. Firstly from the level of traffic and secondly from the fumes.
Great idea to try and get fit and lose a few stone but can't you achieve this at the weekends?
If you can get the family all out on bikes it'll be good for everyone and you'll benefit.
Even with young children a way can be found to take them with you.
My grand kids have enjoyed riding and going out with Granddad, especially if he makes a show of not being as fast :)