From Commuter to Climber

When Matt decided it was time to halt his middle-aged spread, he started commuting to work by bike. But he didn’t expect it to be remortgaging that would help him climb his biggest hill yet.

"I hit 45 and I was just… Well, a bit overweight, to put it kindly,” says 47-year-old accountant Matt. “I drank a bit too much, I didn’t really exercise… I thought: if I’m like this now, what will I be like at 50? I needed to sort myself out.”

Matt struggled to fit exercise into his life until the day, after one train strike too many, he decided to try cycling to work. He kitted up with a secondhand Peugeot bike – stylish but heavy – and a seriously ugly high-vis gilet. He also reluctantly invested in some cycling leggings, the first piece of Lycra he’d ever owned.

“My wife thought it was ridiculous – she said I was a total cliché,” he laughs. “A MAMIL – Middle Aged Man In Lycra. She said I should have bought a Porsche and grown a ponytail if I wanted to have a mid-life crisis!

“But then she saw the effects. The weight just melted off. I was full of energy, and sleeping better. The paunch was definitely shrinking. And I was more alert when I got to work. I almost gave up drinking completely, because I’d be cycling home from work drinks instead of getting the train. And I didn’t even miss the beers.”

Still, he wanted to take cycling a bit further, maybe do a charity event, and that elderly bike, with its grinding gears, was holding him back. He couldn’t bring himself to splash out on the sporty carbon-fibre bike he’d been dreaming of. But without it, the London to Brighton he wanted to try was going to be very tough – especially when he’d have to climb the notorious Ditchling Beacon.

“I know I’m not the fittest of cyclists yet, and maybe at my age I never will be, but I refuse to be the old guy waddling up the big hill on foot while everyone else glides past!” says Matt. “It’s expensive when you’ve got a family, though. I couldn’t justify spending over a grand on my bike.”

Turned out, it was the mortgage that got those pedals spinning. When Matt’s wife Ellie started looking at the family finances, she realised they were still on a really high rate after their fixed-rate period had ended. What if we remortgaged to get a better rate to help us save a bit each month to put towards the bike, she suggested?

“It only took 15 minutes,” admits Matt. That’s the average time it takes to use the online calculator and complete an Agreement in Principle from Lloyds, giving Matt an indication of how much he might be able to lower his payments by. He applied for the mortgage and was delighted with the deal he got.

Matt did his first London to Brighton this summer and raised a few thousand for his favourite charity while he was there. “I wasn’t exactly fast, but you know what? I sailed up the Beacon, past all the walkers and right past the guys struggling along in the granny gears. So I’m up for a bigger challenge now. The Tour de Yorkshire – 100km of hills and dales and all that. Plus it’s the same finishing line as the pros.”

With the bike of his dreams already in the bag, that’s one financial mountain Matt and Ellie don’t need to climb.

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.

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