Sitting out in the lunchtime sunshine, dressed in a shirt and tie, relaxing with an overpriced flatbread, Martin looks as if he’s just arrived from an afternoon stroll out of the office. But in the background his bike, drop barred and mounted with panniers, is resting on a piece of railing having taken him from one work meeting, and back onwards to the office.
“I had a big Raleigh,” Martin explains, “when I went to uni in Glasgow, but I faded a bit when I left.” It’s a common tale, as is the route back into cycling, “I got back into it for exercise. The kids were at home, and I was motivated to do it. I took the Water of Leith path from day one.” It wasn’t immediately all plain sailing. He invested in a hybrid bike which had, “too many gears. For starting out you only really need seven gears, there’s less to go wrong.” That hasn’t stopped Martin’s son from graduating to using that same hybrid bike today.
Martin’s route takes him from Balerno, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, through the city centre to McDonald Road, and the off-road route is one which is, “pleasant when it’s not muddy.” He found he was switching to the road, and then the bike to work scheme offered him the chance of a do-it-all bike. A Specialized Tricross was the choice. Mudguards and rack can come and go, which means that it’s been used for everything from commuting to fast long distance rides, and all in between.
But he declares the most important thing about a bike is tyre choice. There’s a holy grail of fast rolling, but tough enough to withstand potholes and glass. The subject is one which will ignite debate for hours on end, but Martin insists it’s worth trying different tyres, because the difference in comfort and speed can be surprising.
I comment on Martin’s business attire, but he isn’t averse to more cycling specific clothing. It all depends on context. “If I’m going straight from home to a meeting then I’ll be more casual, but if I’m going to the office I’ll just leave the suit there and change.” With meetings in amongst the day he has no need to change out of the suit.
“Just try it, do it,” is Martin’s simple advice. He wishes he’d kept going after university, rather than having a gap in his cycling history, but is more than glad he re-found two wheels.