In The Red: 'I'm sorely tempted get back on a bicycle after a poor start'

As some of you may recall, bicycles are not my strong point. Just under a year ago I bought one with the misguided ambition that I too might cycle where Agyness Deyn has cycled, and join London's hordes of smug, environmentally-friendly fashionable pedallers that zip around the Capital at virtually no expense.

It was, I thought, the perfect antidote to my credit-crunched (ie cancelled) gym membership not to mention my whopping daily transport bill. Little did I know that two weeks later I'd be spinning out of control in my local park on a "bargain" bike from a street vendor. Not only was it a man's model not ideal, but possible to turn a blind eye to it was also missing a brake wire, and had a defective seat.

It wasn't my finest investment and, needless to say, I didn't get back on. Instead, I just asked for the fitness equivalent for Christmas and put my cycling dreams to bed. Or so I thought. Then, the other day, I found myself in a cycling shop with a friend. They had a sale on, with prices down to a third of their normal ones. In fact, a lot of the bikes were barely more than my ill-advised street bargain. I didn't get one there and then, of course. But ever since I've found it difficult to get the idea out of my head. Instead of sheep jumping over fences as I drop off at night, it's bicycles with me on, accessorised by a wicker basket and bunch of flowers.

This is probably down to two things: the seasonal change (long evenings, sunny mornings and suddenly the dingy D6 from East London looks a lot less enticing); and the fact that my commute is about to get a whole lot longer. With The Independent moving its headquarters from the glass towers of Canary Wharf to the bustling confines of Kensington High Street, it's dawned on me that I'm destined to spend a good few hours of my life underground.

Unless I can find an alternative travel arrangement that doesn't cost any more (in fact, given my three-zone commute will end up costing a good 7 a day, preferably one that costs less), I'm going to have to get up a whole lot earlier, and kiss goodbye to my hopes of a suntan.

And so, here I am again, weighing up the pros and cons of cycling not to mention wondering whether or not I can really justify paying 100 or so having already written off one bike already? Considering how much I'd save in commuting, I suppose I could.

But how to guarantee that once I've bought the bike I would use it enough? That, I suppose, is the million dollar (or hundred quid) question. Answers, please, on a postcard.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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