So, it’s come to this. I am re-branding as an adventure-commuter. For too long I have ridden the same route in and out of work, once or twice a week. But since I am no longer an aspiring ultra racer (one race completed one race completed, no further plans) or randonneur (two SR Series but havent finished a brevet for over a year now) and have less time for weekend riding (although I will be cyclo-camping on holiday) the obvious thing is to upgrade my routes from Hebden Bridge (and probably also Manchester) to Leeds.
My current ‘fast’ route is fairly direct and follows the main roads (A646 and A58 mostly), dicing with the trucks,vans, buses and other lunatics. An adventure of a kind, and there are some wonderful vistas (such as the entry to the Calder Valley in the night). I know this route so well that I can identify the organic development of road defects and even recognise people walking to work. It takes about one and a half hours to two hours door to door, not much slower than train plus Brompton, my other default mode. And although it isn’t flat I only need the small ring once.
I have had a range of other routes, taking in the Aire Valley Cycleway (bit of a detour via Shipley), and bits of the Calder Vall Cycleway but I have failed to fully commit. I tend to baulk at a ride longer than two hours, but why stop there? Earlier this week I rode out of Hebden Bridge up the steepest hill (via Birchcliffe) and proceeded to take in as many climbs as possible before descending to the cycleway in Skipton (the first part of which is axle-breaking rocky path) and on into Leeds. Took about 3 hours. On the way back I descended into Luddenden Foot and rode along route 66 through the woods by the railway and river. The next phase will be to set off earlier and ride a more extensive loops up North or South, avoiding main roads and mixing in paths and cycleway as appropriate. Eventually I plan to set off for work from work, riding all night to arrrive back at work by morning. I could also add in a level of complexity by using trains to get me further from work, but that might be a different pursuit.
No wonder I am tired all the time. But sleep is for wimps.
(I would have written a blog about lovepacking, but that’s too private, and far too serious).
I wonder what this will actually feel like? RWGPS makes route planning seem easy, but there is a surprise on every ride. After the familiar sections of Yorkshire are accounted for this route contains just enough mystery to imply a test for more than my legs. Between GPS and reality exists a fruitful gap which should get me into plenty of trouble. I could just get the train both ways and take my Brompton but I have convinced myself I am short of kilometers, and the allure of unfamiliar territory and a necessary change from my normal commute is just too tempting. In particular, I confess to never having ridden the Aire Valley Cycle Route , and my experience of off-road cycle provision in the UK is rather mixed but generally leads to something “special”. I also have some serious thinking to do about work and here is a chance to let my unconscious do the work.
Here’s to getting lost!
(BTW I am not really going down a section of the A1…)
I used to be in an Experimental Rock Band, and I guess that is how I met @accidentobizaro. She knew our bassist’s girlfriend through her housemate/landlord (that’s a long story in itself).
I knew she cycled.
She knew I played live in a transparent plastic cape (yes, that kind of Experimental).
That is where Chris Boardman comes in: I was taken out by a car driver on the Essex Road cycling back to my flat to watch the Tour de France coverage, Boardman having won the prologue that year and the Tour being in Britain for a few days (Sean Yates wore yellow that year too). When I finally spoke to her on the phone that day (from our bassist’s flat, where I was hiding and feeling sorry for myself) I was in a state of ill repair, having left a man-sized dent in a saloon car, and suffered bruising and minor cuts. I wasn’t a very confident guy back then, and I think the accident helped me to loosen up…
I remember that day and people’s kindness and love so well. I never really thanked the couple that looked after me and transported me home in their van with my bike, or the St John’s Ambulance guy who checked me over by the road side.
We are still together in 2012 but part of me is still in 1994, at the beginning of things. I cycled to our first date…
As readers of this blog will know I have a slightly complex relationship with cycling. I do, like many non-racing cyclists, have an interest in maintaining and improving my cycling-specific fitness, and like many regard my riding as ‘training’, although given my lack of engagement with randonneuring at present, I am not quite sure what I am training for…