A warped sense of distance
I’ve been out running quite a bit recently. A few recurring cycling injuries and some advice from a physiotherapist have lead me to establishing a more balanced approach to exercise. I went out for a ‘little’ 6 mile run yesterday: 3 miles out-and-back to the other side of Chew Lake. But it was only when I got home and looked out of the window to the lake in the distant horizon that I realised 3 miles is still quite a long way. Cycling is clearly to blame for warping my sense of distances.
As well as thinking 3 miles is hardly worth getting out of bed for, cycling has also deceived me into thinking I work close to home. Due to injuries I drove the car to work for most of December and the exhausting tedium of the journey also brought a sense of perspective to 18 miles. It’s far. As cyclists we are nuts for considering it a short distance.
To cap off 2013 I went out for a 30-something mile ride today. The horizontal distance wasn’t really important, it was all about taking on a few challenging climbs. I made three separate climbs of the Mendip hills interspersed by a few descents to catch my breath, the highlight being a recently discovered 4 mile gradual descent along a quiet back lane. This gives an opportunity to savour the exhilaration of descending rather than most of the steeper and busier roads which can be a bit sketchy in these slippery, winter conditions.
I was dressed up for the cold and riding the weighty steel frame complete with mudguards and rack, all of which provided some additional ballast to drag up the hills and raised the spirits when I overtook a couple of cyclists climbing Burrington Combe on their carbon fibre bikes without mudguards. The roads were soaked from the morning rain so maybe their slowness was a result of having pants full of puddle but I showed no sympathy as I mashed my way past. The second climb was Cheddar Gorge where I was overtaken near the top. This gently humbling experience paled into insignificance compared to the final climb where I looked down at my speedo on the steepest section of East Harptree Hill and read 4mph. 4mph! I dug deep and pushed on, trying to ignore my mischievous inner voice trash-talking me by saying this was definitely the slowest I had ever ridden. Shut up brain.
You can’t really post on 31 December without some sort of year in summary / outlook to the new year. This year I rode over 5500 miles which is a great achievement but still a few miles short of 2012. While the recent injuries are par-for-the-course for cycling a whole year, I think I can claim some extenuating circumstances for the new baby in the house. However my plan for next year is to cycle less. This might sound surprising but I intend to quit my current job and do something closer to home, hence less cycle-commuting which makes up the bulk of my riding. Working long hours and commuting long distances leaves very little time for family life and I think the arrival of our baby has been the catalyst for making a positive change in my life. I’m not exactly sure where this journey will take me, but hopefully will also involve significantly less driving in the Bike v Car Challenge. I’m excited about the future. Roll on 2014 …