Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What I learned on my first bike ride to work

So to fight the ever-increasing size of my waistline and to try and recapture some semblance of fitness I have decided to start riding my bike to work.  This morning was the first time I tried it and I thought I'd share some of the things I discovered.
First of all some facts:  The journey (according to Google maps) is 5.7 miles long and should take 33 mins.  I decided that rather try and find my way down back roads I'd stick to the A6.  It's not a big dual carriageway type road like the A40 in West London but it is still quite a busy road.  I left at 6.50am (about the time I'd leave if I were driving to the station to get the early train) and pulled up at the underground car park where I will store my bike at 7.13am.
Now some things I 'enjoyed' on the way.

  • Getting your body into gear before 7.00am is hard, especially at my age.  An early morning session of bedroom gymnastics?  Yes please.  An early morning session of physical exercise?  Ouch.
  • Maintaining speed is important.  Slowing down or stopping means you have to work hard to get going again. This is a problem when approaching sharp bends, traffic lights or pedestrians.
  • Pot holes, whilst in your car, are a minor inconvenience and may make you spill a little of your low-fat crapaccino latte.  Pot holes whilst on a bike make you flop around like an epileptic with a cattle prod up your arse and can throw you into the path of buses.
  • Speaking of buses.  They are bastards.
  • Roundabouts, especially multiple-entry dual lane ones, are scary places on a bike.  The best tactic I found was to check all entrances as you approach, (maintaining your speed as per above), scream loudly, point at your exit, and shut your eyes and hope for the best.
  • Levenshulme stinks.  (Rubbish, piss and industrial chemicals I think) which you don't get an appreciation of when sat in a car.
  • I didn't know one head could hold so much sweat.
  • Getting washed in a gents toilet makes you feel slightly grubby and weird.

Despite all of the above, I really did enjoy it.  As the days go by, I will get fitter (hopefully) and so the pain and discomfort should lessen.  I should also get into routine of what clothes to wear, whether or not an iPod is a good thing to use etc.  The only downside is now I'm here I have to work!  We'll see how the journey home is this afternoon.  It'll be busier, probably warmer, but at least I have a shower to leap fall into when I get home.  I guess I should also invest in one of those space-age looking cycle helmets.  I could wear my old motorbike crash hat, but that would make me look like a mental person.
I'll update tonight when / if I get home...


Update: some more things I learned on my 25 minute ride home:
Buses really ARE bastards.
Taking the last exit on a busy, two lane roundabout is fucking terrifying.
There are more up hills coming home than going to work.
Catching my reflection in a shop window I discovered I look faintly ridiculous on a bike - hopefully this will improve as I lose weight.

As long as the weather is good again tomorrow I'll be doing the whole thing again.
Have a nice evening all.


Larry Grayson said...


Anonymous said...

I cycled to my current work for the first time last friday. Too many lorries and cars though and not enough squirrels & badgers!

My commute is 10 miles & it's actually quicker than driving, and it takes in some of the Olympic Road Race Route.

It's one thing cycling into work, but another to have the motivation to do the same journey in reverse at the end of the day. But it's worth it when you get home.

Fair play, and keep it up!

Simon said...

Anonymous - 10 miles! If / when I get fitter I'll hopefully be able to manage that sort of distance. You're right about the motivation to do it on the way home but someone I follow on Twitter said that it 'clears the cobwebs'... we'll see! I'll update here later. Thanks for reading.

ToxFilter said...

Good job. My commute by bike would be about 50 miles. That isn't going to happen, but when I lived closer I used to bike quite a few times a week. There was a health club .25 miles from work where I could shower. Your right though after a long day at work the ride seems to be motivationally challenging, but totally worth it when you are home. Now we have something new to do when you come over to the states.

Simon said...

Dude! Thanks for stopping by. I've been told there is a building near here where I could be allowed to shower... but that just feels a bit strange. I'm sitting here alone in my office today and I'm not giving off any more 'musk' than I normally do so we'll see how it goes the rest of the week. And believe me, I am desperate to get back over there and see you both... I'm hopefully going to arrange something for next year now when Jake finishes his touring.

Cantona07! said...

Nice one mate, keep it our age any Excersise can be challenging...but doing some is better than none at all. You might want to get a mask for your face....not so you won't scare the public.....but to reduce the inhalation of car and bastard bus fumes.......a cycle helmet is a must!
I assume this will only be a fair weather thing you don't want to get to work soaked to the skin???
Buses really should have their own lanes like in London, and have to stick to them.......and more cycle lanes needed throughout the country!

Happy pedalling!!!

Simon said...

Hello Steve. Yes, you're right, at this age we need to battle the bulge anyway we can. I'll only be riding when the weather's nice. I can't get soaked on the way to work as there're no showers here or anything. I don't mind the cold so much, just the wet. Hopefully I'll start to notice the difference in my physique sooner rather than later!

Jules said...

Well done, I’d be far too nervous to ride a bike in busy traffic. Yes, more cycle lanes would encourage more cyclists and reduce pollution etc.
Country roads are the worst – as a driver I get stuck behind cyclists and sometimes have to follow them for ages round bends until it’s safe to overtake – and it makes me wonder how coaches and lorries ever get past them.

Simon said...

Jules, although the thought of riding your bike down quiet country roads, with the sun shining, no pollution etc. sounds idyllic, I can imagine actually doing it and being nearly crushed by lorries, tractors etc. must be terrifying! I wouldn't be too fussed about more cycle lanes - but if the council could see themselves clear to fixing the massive pot holes that litter the gutters of the road I would appreciate it!