To continue my story of last week’s commute....
Despite the ignominy of two comedy dismounts, I also had a couple of successes and a useful lesson.
I found a slight detour, whilst cycling in early on in the week, some 20 year old went past me at about 24 mph, he looked like he was not really pacing himself and sure enough one mile later I went past him with his speed at something closer to 15 mph. This seems to be a very common event but more on that later. Anyway about 5 miles later I found myself cycling past him a second time, I knew he had not gone past me and now he was cycling closer to 13 mph – it could mean only one thing – he had a better route. I had a fairly good idea of what area this alternate route would be in, when faced with a dilemma such as this there is only one thing to do, I pulled out a real map! I used this route today and it is only about 10 meters longer than my old route but importantly it cuts out a big hill that I annoyingly go up then down again, so all in all a result! A fresher me arrives at work (I shall be using this route going home as well).
I have not as yet been able to cycle into work 5 days running, the best I have managed to this point has been three times in a week and to be honest I ached afterwards. Now yes I know this aching is a process of growing and I will improve over the next couple of months, but the weather is improving and I want to be able to cycle in 4 or 5 times a week. For two weeks I kept off the bike at the weekend totally to help the healing process, but I seemed to be in a vicious circle, the fitter I was getting the faster I rode in, end result aches at the end of the week and a break needed. I needed to re-evaluate my goal here. Being a sprinter in my youth it has always been about speed but I had to realise that I needed to change my priority to firstly being able to cycle in whenever I wanted to. So this week I dropped my average speed by 2 or 3 mph. I have been able to cycle in 3 times this week with no real aches other than a little stiffness in the evening, so I am confident I can do 4/5 times next week (weather permitting) without issue. Once I am comfortable with that – then I will start to increase the speed. The end result will be the same I am just changing the way I do it so I get more actual rides in and also just a little safer.
Yep, the only real cock up I made this week was at a traffic light. It was 100% my fault, there was no near accident or anything but I did learn from it and I am happy to admit I was stupid. It was at the end of my ride and I had to turn right at traffic lights into the road where my office is. I slowed down to an almost stop, but I noticed oncoming traffic was stopped and there was nothing coming from the other road (at about 10 O’clock to where I was) I was running a little late so I decided to jump the lights, but just as I was about to set off the oncoming traffic started to move. I probably could have made it across with room to spare but thought better of it and decided to stop – but once again my mind was on a number of things at the same time and I forgot all about the fact I was in cleats. I did manage to just get my foot out in time but it was close and very undignified. Now i don’t need any comments to tell me what a muppet I was – I know and I have learned – I promise!
Odd things I noticed
I followed a couple of funny kneed people this week, the first was a woman, she was cycling with her knees sticking out so far to the side she could have been giving birth, I am assuming that this might be down to the “saddle” to low syndrome I spotted before – but one thing is for sure one the way up a hill she went past me – I think I will lower my saddle as well! The yin to the previous persons yang was another guy I saw a little later on during the same ride, this guy had very skinny legs (does that have any relevance to what I am saying, probably not) but he had his knees pointing inwards so much that he looked like a nun on the set of a pron film. How he didn’t knock his knees together with each revolution was beyond me, but as he was alongside me during my comedy dismount (mentioned yesterday) and cycled off without even a by your leave I hope he gives himself a dead leg oneday.
Now I am concerned about my peddling efficiency, I still think I am too reliant on my right leg on the downward push and I am still not bringing my foot up in a definite action on the back up-stroke (to be honest I am trying to, but my muscles are tiring too quickly to keep it up for a long time, it is just a case of becoming more accustomed to it). But my concerns about my own style have reduced when I look at how some people are managing to get around.
Annoyances of the Daily Commute.
Having mentioned previously that I have dropped my speed down a few mph I am now a target for some riders out there, I expect the younger / fitter / healthier members of the cycling fraternity – but when you drop down a bit of speed a whole new load of riders want to overtake you. OK fine – but it is really dull having to overtake them all again ½ a mile up the road because they are all tuckered out taking you in the first place. I used to think I was an idiot, overtaking people and going too fast but at least the people I overtook stayed overtaken (I would slip off down a side road until they pass by) and I never bothered overtaking people who are riding close to my speed. But it seems I am but an amateur idiot compared to 60% of the riders out there, maybe I am just getting over the novelty of riding and treating it a little more pragmatically now? But this constant need to try and overtake people seems a little foolish when you knacker yourself out such a short distance later without a hill or a set of lights in sight to use as an excuse.