Rory O’ Donnell reflects on the pure freedom of just hopping on a bike, and saving money with new second hand alternatives to a sometimes costly mode of transport.
Getting on a bike for me is like flopping down on a couch after a long day’s work, or slipping into a warm bed on a freezing night. It’s probably the only reason I come to college most days; the excuse to cycle. When I had more money than I could spend, I used to dish out E70 a month on a public transport ticket but, these days, the lack of money has ‘reduced’ me to doing something I now love.
‘Are you mad!? Cycling 12k everyday into college!?’ What I think is mad is waiting for a bus that probably won’t come, dishing out the best part of 6 euro for it when it does arrive, and finally, completing what was supposed to be a 20 minute commute in 40 minutes.
Since I started cycling 4 years ago I’ve lost weight, saved money and become WAY more punctual [I'm still known as 'that guy that turns up 5 minutes late for class sweating and out of breath', but still, WAY more punctual!].
When I started cycling, bikes were still a bit of a niche. The only people that cycled were kids and ‘those people that wear all the tight gear and helmets and stuff’. As a result, cycling was expensive because you were either a parent willing to pay whatever it takes to shut your child up or an enthusiast who wanted the best.
In the last 2 years in particular, cycling has become way more popular. I used to have no problem finding a space to lock my bike up to but lately it’s becoming more and more difficult.
Budget cycling is on the rise, something that happened during the whole ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ phase, so you have places like Rothar and Cork Community Cycles, popping up in Dublin and Cork where you can buy refurbished bicycles for a fraction of the cost of a brand new one – although they do push up the price of the ‘retro’ looking bikes to about E150 – E200 just to spite us.
Cork Community Cycles is fantastic for second hand bikes but they’re only open on a Saturday, so in effect, there is no real second hand bicycle shop in Cork.
Which is where Cillian Reid and The Bike Shed fit in. I met Cillian just over a year ago after answering an ad for a second hand bike. He was based in a garage in Wilton where he fixed and refurbished bikes. Fast forward 365 days and he has a work shop only 5 minutes from UCC that targets students who want to get from A to B faster. So far most of Cillian’s customers have been visiting students from the continent and beyond, especially Dutch, German, and Chinese students.
Irish weather. Not as bad as you think it is. So far this year I’ve had to wear my rain-gear thrice and I refused to cycle once. That’s 3 days out of 52 so far! Your commute is too far to cycle? Nonsense. If you live in the suburbs you have no excuse.
Getting a bus or a driving is way more time consuming; Traffic, finding a parking space, money for petrol or bus ticket, bus stop/ parking space nowhere near where you want to go.
With a bike that’s no problem, you can get a bike from Cillian for 100 yoyos, park it wherever you like, skip all the traffic, get fit, save money, look bad-ass, improve your health, become more punctual, the ladies get the men, the men get the ladies – the pros by far outweigh the cons.
The Bike Shed is aimed at students and their limited budget. If you want a bike – go there, if you have a bike but it need to be fixed – go there. Bikes are coming back so you might as start now so you don’t look like a dolt when everyone is pedaling rings around you.