Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Last night's commute was great; a nice steady spin through the lanes, spotting the changing colour of the trees as Autumn entres stage left. The last bit of this particular route takes me home along what is locally known as the St Albans ringroad; it's not the most direct route from the lanes, just a little loop I add in to squeeze another mile or so into the ride.

Despite the name, the 'ring road' is not really that grand, just a set of normal streets which link to run round the north side of the city about two-thirds of the way out. Traffic can be busy, but it's not intimidating. Close to home there's a couple of mini roundabouts about 75 yards apart; at this stage in my commute I'm well warmed up, the road is flat to slightly downhill and I'm riding fairly quickly (about 18-20mph), maintaining a distance of about 4 feet from the kerb to set myself up to turn right at the second roundabout. My speed and the distance between the two roundabouts means that I'm not holding up the traffic to any real extent and traffic in the other direction usually prevents safe overtaking.

Anyway, last night I'm about 3 feet from the kerb approaching the first roundabout when a van starts to overtake (pretty stupid thing to do, but no problem, I have space to move into if needs be), then pulls in sharply to within 18" of me when it's half way past and almost up to the roundabout (big problem). I slap the side of the van, not hard, just enough to let the driver know I'm there, and shout 'give me room!'. The driver bakes, and I clear the roundabout ahead of him. This is red rag to a bull to the driver, who then sits on my back wheel tooting his horn and follows me as I turn, keeping up the agression and the horn. As we approach a parked car he's nearly parallel and it looks like he's going to box me in. I'm on a road bike, so hopping the
kerb isn't really an option and I stop before we get into a road duel which I'll only lose. Most of all, I don't want him to follow me home.

The usual enraged cager diatribe ensues; I tell him he was too close, he threatens to 'slap my face like I slapped his van' and follows up with the tired old 'you shouldn't be on the road, you don't pay road tax, don't have insurance, yadda, yadda yadda.' He's virtually foaming at the mouth, won't admit he pulled in on me at the roundabout, won't listen to me, so I just let him spew his bullshit and calm down a little before saying 'whatever' and riding off unfazed.

There's no solution to this sort of outburst which doesn't invite further agression, so there was no point in continuing the 'conversation'. In retrospect I'm slightly annoyed I forgot to pull my phone from my jersey poket and video the encounter to follow up with his employer, possibly "CV plumbing" or similar but I couldn't be sure- a plumbering/heating firm in any case.

This incodent isn't a big deal, I've commuted by bike for more than twenty years, I'm well used to this sort of thing and it doesn't happen often. What bothers me is the degree of ingorance and bigotry and the downright agression of a small minority of drivers.

We need a local road strategy which educates drivers about leaving adequate room for other road users, and infractructure design/signing to reinforce the message.

On the other side of the Atlantic, blogger Cycledog writes about simialar attitudes in the US and references analysis which refutes the 'freeloading cyclists don't pay for the roads' myth.

Friday, September 14, 2007

and . . . . relax.

and . . . . relax., originally uploaded by mike1727.

It's the end of my second week of higher intensity bike riding, and for the first time so far I'm feeling tired. Tired, but at least not aching; with a couple of 'red mist' exceptions, I've been targeting lower intensity, longer rides in low gear rather than mashing big gears. I still can't climb worth a damn, but that'll come once I've got better basic fitness and shed a few pounds.

The 'plan' (a very loose interpretation of the word) is to spend about a month more just getting miles in my legs before upping the intensity to the next level by working more on hill climbing. The daily commute is up to around 7 miles each way and I'm doing two or three lunchtime sessions of about 11-12 miles. It's not really enough for base training as none of the sessions are longer than 40 minutes, so I'll chuck a few hours a week on a turbo trainer into the mix in a couple of weeks' time.

Here's the stats for the first couple of weeks. Don't laugh, I'm starting from a very low base! Some of the data is a bit suspect since my HRM seems to randomly corrupt samples.

Week 1 week 2
Mileage 75.4 89.9
Rides 12 14
Calories 4135 4357

Av heart rate 147 147 (in the 'fat burning and re-energise glycogen' zone. Ha.)
Max heart rate 171 170 (approx 90% of estimated max)

av speed 15.9 16.7 (not my primary target but nice to see an increase)

The target for next week is 100 miles, which should be easily achievable if it doesn't rain too much.

Days until I'm 40: 23.
Age-related angst level: amber.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tour of Britain returns, Cavendish wins prolog

tour of Britain prologue v, originally uploaded by Brassica.

The Tour of Britain is back, we have a Brit in yellow and a load of promising other British riders.

The Daily Peloton has an overview of the event, and raises a good question: the race is scheduled for the first week of school term, starts in a fairly inaccessible area of London and has no city centre crit finish. After the great sucess and huge crowds of the our de France earlier this year, can we really expect to see the same interest in our home event?

Lack of remaining holiday and a race route which finishes in Glasgow means I won't be able to watch it live this year. Typically, terrestrial broadcast TV coverage is meagre compared to the Tour de France, so I'm looking out for alternatives.

Off-road, Brits did well in the Mountain Bike World Championships, taking four medals in the downhill, including gold in the mens juniors.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Slave to the rhythm

40 approaches, and with it the customary angst payload. Baldness I can't cure, but I can (hopefully) regain some of the fitness I once had.
So, I've rediscovered my bike computer's zones feature, so my commute is punctuated by plaintive beeps as my computer snugly points out that either a. I'm slacking or b. I'm riding at an intensity which isn't optimal for burning my beer belly.
Spill, could be worse, at least I have on urge whatsoever to own a sports car-

Thursday, September 06, 2007

This is a photograph I did not take

of a group of mountain bikers crossing Nomansland Common the other evening, the car's headlights rendering their identical reflective jackets into a long dotted line as they ride west along the arrow-straight single-track lane, equally spaced with almost military efficiency. Unbunched, each rider in his/her own 10 yard bubble, they don't appear to be 'normal' cyclists.

With a tip of the hat to Unphotographable.