Monday, 26 January 2015

I took the road less travelled by

Over the last year or so I've been on a project at work which required four or five full days in the office.  As a result, despite the routine, I've been banging in the miles on the bike to my great delight.

Just before Christmas, I got assigned to a new project down in Dorset which needs two days a week down on site.  The work that I do sometimes needs a lot of bulky safety gear and I have to be on site by 08:30 on Monday morning.  Yes, as if Mondays couldn't get any grimmer, mine now start at 04:30 with a long drive in the dark.  I love to use public transport but, try as I might, I've not been able to find a more effective alternative to this current problem than hiring a car each week (at work's expense).  However, that means I'm spending longer in the car and getting (or at least feeling) lazier and fatter!

Getting my Dahon back from repair last week was the catalyst to make a few changes.  It's taken a little bit of forethought and planning but now I'm managing a partial cycle-commute, miles from home.  And it goes a little sonething like this (hit it):

  • Monday morning: Drive down to Dorset with folding bike, cycling gear and all of my work paraphernalia in the car boot
  • Monday evening:  Change into cycling gear, leave work clothes in car, park car in secure(ish) car park and cycle to the hotel
  • Tuesday morning: Cycle from the hotel to work, change into work clothes (clean shirt already there from day before).  Do a day's work.
  • Tuesday afternoon:  Drive home

Seems complex but after a couple of weeks, I have it down pretty well.

The distance from the office to the hotel is only about four miles, mostly along an A-road with sort-of-a-cycle-lane along the edge, it's on the cusp of not needing to bother changing into cycling clothes.  However, on Monday afternoons, I've taken to using a longer and much more rural route.  Definitely, in the words of Robert Frost, "The road less traveled by".

It's still going dark pretty early around here (sunset at about 16:50) but tonight, I was determined to get a good ride in.  And I certainly did! 

Down here in Dorset it is a truly beautiful corner of the UK and a real pleasure to visit and cycle around.  Beautiful yes, but dear Lord do they have hills!  None of them are very high per se, but it seems like any lane from A to B has a couple of short but severe climbs in every half mile!  In minutes, you go from eye-watering (literally) downhill speed to honking up what seems like a 1:1 in your lowest gear.  I have waxed lyrical and at length about the gearing on the Dahon being too low.  For the flatlands where I live (and where I'll never again use the word hill) it is, but down these evening I was praying, through gritted teeth for a lower gear! 

As I'm from the Midlands and generally miles from it, I wanted to see the sea and so plotted a short route of just over nine miles starting at the office and ending at my hotel.  It ended up being almost an hour of murderous climbing, hysterical descents one of the best sunsets I've seen for a long time.

The start of what became a fabulous sunset.

I cycled over that - it looks much flatter on a photo but wasn't!

Beautiful Dorset.
I cycled up this one first, then back down a bit for
 a better picture of the hairpin bend!

That's the sea.  Over there, between the land and the sky.
It was down another massive hill (and ume was getting on)
so I settled for the view from a distance.

This sunset was stunning - again the picture doesn't
really do it justice. 

Best of all though, it goes to show that, with a little bit of forward planning, more circumstances than you would think are conducive to cycle-commuting of one sort or another.  Or at the very least it's possible to bring your bike with you when away with work (even a non-folder, I'm sure) and blow out the cobwebs at the end of a day's work.

In its own way, the road less travelled by which really does make all the difference. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Winter is very firmly here!

Blimey it was cold this morning! 

Obviously being January, it's been cold for a while now but this morning was special.  I don't have any means to measure it, but a guy on the train was reckoning -5C!  There's somethign really nice about riding in the cold though.  The air is so crisp and, in a strange way, there seems to be more of it when you start huffing a puffing a bit.  Being cold makes it seem somehow thicker.

After a couple of months without it. I'm back on my beloved Dahon this week.  After so many weeks on a (dare I say it) "proper" bike being back on my folder felt a little odd at first.  It's so light and fast steering that it's easy to forget how stable and frankly sluggish my hybrid can feel at times.  A couple of days back in the saddle though and we're like old friends again.

And as ever, the many dark, winter miles are a chance to get lost in one's thoughts and plan adventures for when the days are longer and the weather warmer. 

I'll post more on the whole reason for being without the Dahon in a short while.  Hopefully I can get back into the habit of blogging more regularly again (he says...)  Also, now that it has over 9,000 miles on the clock I out to actually write a review of it. 

When I started this adventure almost three years ago, I had no idea I'd put so many miles on my bike and that I'd manage so easily without a car of my own.

But I have.

And it's been (and continues to be) a blast.