Monday, 4 February 2013

Back in the saddle

I spent quite a lot of last week looking out of the window in the office, noting how the daylight hours are creeping back. Over the weekend I decided that it was definitely time to start cycling to work again, so long as the weather wasn't too miserable.

This morning the weather played along and I'm happy to say I'm back in the saddle!

I haven't ridden the road bike for a while, all my recent outings have been on the shopper which isn't built for speed! Getting back on the road bike felt a bit strange, I guess like getting into a racing car after driving a bus. It felt super light and responsive, and the riding position felt very aggressive - bum high in the air and arms outstretched! A little pressure on the pedals and it was as eager to go as I was. About 10 minutes later I realised how out of shape I was and slowed down to a more manageable speed.

It felt good to be my own master again, no more trains to depend on! At the same time I'm reminded about the trade off, which is dealing with the generally low quality of driving the Berkshire seems to suffer from.

Two incidents this morning. Firstly a woman in a 4x4 decided to overtake on a left bend and then cut the corner, unfortunately for me she cut the corner at the same time as overtaking, causing me to swerve violently to avoid the back of her Toyota as she cut past. She got stuck in traffic shortly after and I realised that she was on the phone perhaps explaining her idiotic driving. Its fairly common for drivers to cut this particular corner and I remembered that I usually cycle in the primary position around it. A few months out of the saddle and I'd forgotten.

Here's the location in Google Streetview;
View Larger Map

The second incident was in Reading. Again it was a vehicle (this time a black taxi) overtaking and cutting in, again forcing me to swerve to avoid its rear end.

View Larger Map

I was stopped at the lights and the taxi was behind me. You can see the two lanes at the lights, I was waiting at these lights in the primary position. After the lights the road has four narrow lanes (I use the leftmost lane). The lanes are only just wide enough for a car so I always ride the primary position to encourage overtaking vehicles to use their own lane and not try and squeeze past. When the lights changed the taxi immediately overtook and pulled back into the left hand lane, but hadn't quite cleared me before pulling in. Luckily as I was riding the primary position I have lots of room to me left, and have to swerve hard to avoid the back of the taxi as it cut in.

I guess I'll have to get used to the idiots again. I'll try our some of my other routes, I have to admit that the route I took this morning does seem to have the highest number of bad driving incidents and was the route I took the least last year. It is however the shortest and fastest route.

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