Cycling to Work – Day 15ish

2 December 2008

Today’s commute to work was accompanied by snow. Or at least: the slush that goes for snow in the Midlands. Thankfully I didn’t suffer from the slippery surface – I just got splatter all over my face.

Today’s unique cycling experience lead me to think about my progress so far. Somehow for the last 3 weeks or so, I’ve managed to fall out of bed each morning and onto the saddle. The ride in is still sometimes painful and tiring, but less so each week.

Then there’s the weather. I don’t mind the rain much, but it’s pretty darn cold. And I’ve learned to dread headwind. Most of my body warms up quite quickly, but not so the face and hands. I now wear gloves and also a hat under my helmet. I’ve even started to using moisturiser occasionally to counter wind-burn (or whatever it is). I figure if I can hack these next few months, then summer’ll be easy-peasy.

I’ve certainly learned a few tricks that make life easier: pannier bags are great, sponge baths aren’t too bad, and musical accompaniment is essential (not recommended for those who travel mainly in traffic).

All in all it’s not too bad. And when it comes to Friday afternoon and the train ride back, I wish I was cycling.


Cycling to Work – A Personal Challenge

22 October 2008

Well, I couldn’t put it off forever! When I first left university and started to commute every day, I figured that I’d end up cycling. But a fair amount of laziness had me wind up on public transport.

My first mode was the old faithful Rainbow 5 from Beeston to Nottingham. I reckon this bus service is one of the best, and I’ve been on plenty. The interiors are quite modern, don’t usually smell of urine, and the drivers give change. And the passengers even seem quite human.

But the very nature of bus travel lets ‘the 5’ down. The vagaries of traffic, the constant stop-start and jerky motion (buses are buses – not comfy Jags), and the retention of water and steam when it rains, can make a journey uncomfortable and long. Door to door can be from 30 to 50 minutes.

Upon discovering that the local train service is quicker and cheaper, I converted immediately to rail. I have no complaints at all about commuting by train, it beats ‘busing it’ hands down. The ride is smooth and short (6 min) and the train is almost always on time. On top of that, waiting at a platform beats a bus shelter any day. Door to door by train is about 30 min.

But I wasn’t to ride in plush trains for long. Our office received its usual fresh batch of engineering graduates this last September. Along with them came a friend and former housemate. He is an avid cyclist, and evangelises (cycling) to anyone who’ll listen. I threw him just about every excuse I could find, but he rebuffed every one. Having conceded my excuses, I decided to give cycling a go. What else could I do?

I planned everything that evening. It wasn’t going to be easy: our office lacks a few facilities that I would like (changing rooms, showers, and clothing storage). I figure I’ll change at work in the disabled loo, and try to wear thin layers on the way to avoid getting sweaty. I’ll bring in a week’s clothing train on Monday, and store it all in the PPE closet and my desk drawer. I will then leave by train on Friday with all the dirty clothing.

I’ve now cycled to work once. I’m not in very good shape, so I was exhausted by the end of it. There is a considerably steep hill at the end, and my legs felt like jelly for an hour or so! However, I felt refreshed and more awake than usual later on. Unfortunately, that evening I sprained my knee whilst swimming, so I haven’t cycled again for a week. Oh well!

Now that I’ve been on my bike again, I have a hunger to use it again. So I’ve made a new commitment: I will cycle to work until Christmas. I can only hope I’ll remain this keen until then.

I’ll keep this space open for anything useful or interesting I see or learn; and I welcome your comments and advice. In addition, I extend my challenge to you: give cycling a go for at least a week. Let me know how it goes if you do.