Our latest colleague profile features Simon Gallantree, a member of our Data Team.

Simon refers to himself as a ‘fair-weather’ cyclist but as you’ll see, his idea of fair-weather cycling is a little bit different to the rest of us.

Simon first started cycling 7 – 8 years ago when he bought a second-hand road bike; he started off slowly at first, cycling a mile, then pushing himself further each time, until he eventually managed to cycle to Barlby and back – a total of 28 miles!

After a year he realised that if he was going to keep this up he was going to need a better bike, as potholed roads and thin wheels aren’t a good mix, and he was getting a lot of punctures. He did learn the importance of always carrying a puncture repair kit though, particularly when he had to walk his bike 8 miles home with a puncture.

He upgraded to a cyclo-cross bike which has everything a road bike has, but with some extra features such as thicker tyres that can handle pot-holes better. Simon describes it as ‘a road bike on steroids’ and over the years he’s upgraded the seat, brakes and pedals, and it was this bike that accompanied him on his first sponsored ride, the Selby Three Swans Sportive for Yorkshire Cancer Research. The first one he did was 30 miles, but he’s since done the 68-mile version that took him just under 7.5 hours.

So how do you train for something like that? Simon’s next sponsored ride is in September, again for Yorkshire Cancer Research, so although he cycles regularly anyway, he started training seriously in May, doing a mix of shorter rides (6 – 7 miles) and longer ones (15 miles). He cycles most days with the odd rest day thrown in, because, as with any exercise, it’s important to listen to your body.

Cycling doesn’t just have physical benefits; Simon says that when he’s out on his bike it gives him to time to think things through.

So, what advice would Simon give to anyone thinking about taking up cycling? Here’s what he suggests:

  • Do your research – having the right bike can make a huge difference to your cycling experience.
  • Have a puncture repair kit (and learn how to use it) – there are plenty of kits around that are small and compact, so easy to carry, and you can get pumps that attach to your bike frame. Simon learnt the hard way that punctures don’t care how far from home you are.
  • Go at your own pace.
  • Get an onboard computer – these are a good way of keeping track of your heart rate/speed etc so you can monitor your progress.
  • Have the right equipment – having a good pair of cycling gloves will make your rides much more comfortable, particularly if you’re going to do longer distances, as will a decent pair of padded shorts.

Simon recently took part in The Insurance Emporium’s Bike Week 100 initiative to commemorate the 100th annual Bike Week; an initiative that encourages workplace cycling. Employees from across the company (both office-based and remote) took part in a bikeathon to raise money for a local cycling charity, York Bike Belles, managing to clock up just over 405 miles between them!

Here at The Insurance Emporium, we take our hobbies seriously, particularly when it’s something that can have such a positive effect on our physical and mental health, such as cycling. Whether you’ve been cycling for years, or are just thinking about taking it up, it’s good to have the peace of mind that bicycle insurance can bring. You can tailor your policy with a range of optional benefits to make sure you end up with a policy that suits you, leaving you free to just saddle up and go.

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