In which the Reluctant Cyclist changes her tune.
After the farce that was my last attempt to combine cycling and swimming I might have been forgiven for jumping in the car to get to the pool, but renewed by the good relationship I was forming with the Trek 7.5, I decided to give this get-fit combo another go.
As the bike had been set up properly for me this time, I was able to concentrate on just pedalling, so I challenged my friend to ride at his normal speed so I could see how adrift I was of an appropriate commuting pace. I didn’t realise quite how unfit I was until he took me at my word, sped up and out of view. Upping my game, my gears and my heart rate, I set off in hot (literally, as in sweaty) pursuit.
It turned out that though I couldn’t beat him, I could just about join him, albeit at a 10 metre gap as I couldn’t make up the earlier lost ground. However, I was managing a respectable pace even if it was causing me some physical discomfort to keep it up for more than a couple of minutes. Cycling is meant to be good for weight loss and so-forth, but I’m not sure that a 3 minute spurt of action in a 20 minute ride was quite enough to shift my pre-ride preparation calorie intake (Jaffa cakes).
Now, I don’t know if this is peculiar to the Trek or to commuting bikes in general, but I was able to spend an awful lot of my cycling time not actually cycling. When not trying to go flat out, in a futile competition with someone who commutes by bike every day, a few turns of the pedals would result in my coasting along for a good distance without any discernable effort. Even though Cambridge is notoriously flat, the Trek found any small descent and maximised its effect so that I could achieve a respectable speed without having to put in any effort whatsoever. Now that is what I call cycling.
As the Trek was a loan bike, I felt that security was of the utmost importance once I’d arrived at the pool. I had come armed with a new and rather swish lock, which could be carried on the frame of the bike rather than in its non-existent basket. Surely every bike needs a basket – where does Victoria Pendlething store her purse?
I had assumed that this lock was like the keyless ignition on my Renault and would open up in proximity to the key when the little blue light was pressed. Unfortunately, it turned out after a few minutes of research via my iPhone that the little blue light on the key isn’t automatic electronic opening but just a little blue light. Once this minor mistake in my understanding was ironed out, the lock unfolded in front of me providing me with a chunky thief deterrent, which I cunningly combined with parking in view of the CCTV camera for maximum protection. Sure of the security of the someone-else’s bike, I headed into the pool for a much needed shower and the subsequent swim.
Cycling home after my dip I took the pace rather slower than before, as I didn’t have anyone to spur me on. I took the opportunity to experiment with the local cycle paths versus the roads. I found that the paths were generally in poor condition, despite this being a city known for its bike culture. I also found out that a key reason for wearing a helmet was to protect myself from low hanging branches over the cycle path – ouch.
The oncoming rain did persuade me to put a little more spring in my step and as I put on the pressure the bike ate my jeans! An investment in some sort of clip appears necessary as I’m as unlikely to wear skinny jeans as I am to dress in lycra. If you saw my bum you’d appreciate why! I wonder if I can retro-fit a chain guard as well as a basket for my bits and bobs? I can see some more bike related spending this weekend.
As well as the spending, I’ve decided to bike every day for a week and publishing that here means I obviously have to do it, in a lazy girl’s version of the Claud&I month of cycling campaign. It’s half term, I’m not at work, how hard can it be? I’ll report back next week!