Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Getting to work is something that must be done in order to finance the extravagantly expensive summer holiday riding from Mittenwald to Riva del Garda.

One way to do it is to sit in my car like an automaton and drive there, listening to Terry Wogan and playing "chicken" with the school-children of Crossgates. Another way is to share a lift with one of my numerous colleagues who live in the same town and do exactly the same commute, on their own, listening to Terry Wogan. But I'm much too misanthropic in the mornings to thole the company of others.

There is a Third Way. Ride my bike. This has many advantages over being in the car. It's cheaper, it's much more involving, it's free exercise and it gives me an almost overwhelming feeling of smugness when I get there.

I've been keeping tabs on progress; time, average HR etc. Most days it takes just over an hour for the 13 miles from Dunfermline to Kirkcaldy on the Kinesis, a mix of road and off-road riding. My best time was 59mins and 36 secs until today when I took almost 3 minutes off it, without really pushing it too hard. The farm track beneath Hill of Beath was pretty manky and soft, so I could be quicker yet. The route TO work is mostly downhill, though it has a 3 or 4 pretty sharp wee climbs that still get the HR up to 190. Coming home is much harder work because it's pretty much all uphill as far as Mosmorran. Today, for the first time, it began to feel easier. I can push a bigger gear without my legs filling up with lactic acid and the final climb back up Townhill Road to my house didn't make me feel dizzy, despite being starving all the way home. There are other factors which dictate the speed and effort required such as the wind speed and direction and the pressure in my tyres - pumping them up to 50psi last night just might have helped...

If there are any negatives to riding to work, the chief one has to be getting up at 6am which I hate doing. Once I'm up, I'm fine but actually getting out of bed takes a great effort of will. It also requires being organised enough to have enough clean clothes at work. I'm paranoid about discovering I don't have any trousers to wear.

So far, however, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Better still, the school-children of Crossgates are safe to wander across the road without looking or thinking, like a slovenly-dressed bovine herd or "itinerant degenerates bleeding westward, like some heliotropic plague". Maybe that last bit is stretching the point a bit too far...

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