Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Cycling commute

I finally did it! I rode to work this morning.

When I woke up this morning I was debating whether or not I should have a rest day or go to the gym. As I was lying there I realised that I had plenty of time to ride to work. I've been wanting to do that for ages. Today was the day.

I got myself sorted. I knew I had clothes at work, but I felt like wearing my new black skirt. Fortunately it doesn't need ironing so I was able to toss it in my backpack.

I've had some advice recently that I should raise my bike seat. I had it lower than the recommended height because I wasn't flexible enough to get my leg over the seat. Now I am, but I'd forgotten to raise it. Of course, having thought of it, I had to do it right then and there. I packed the Allen keys in case I had it too high. I had hardly gone any distance when I realised I'd somehow managed to lower it. After fixing that I was off again. It felt about the same as when I'd started, so the whole exercise had been a waste of time.

I was riding past a primary school, realising that the street was pretty much uphill all the way. I hadn't noticed the incline running, but it was really noticeable on the bike. When I'd first run that way I'd been quite annoyed at myself for not being able to get past the school without stopping for a walking break. If I'd known then that I was running uphill I might have been less disappointed in myself.

Similarly, there was a steady incline up to the War Memorial. I think I hadn't really thought of that section of the run as going uphill because I was so conscious of the much bigger hills ahead.

The straight route is roughly 5 km, but I had to detour around a large hill when the bike path disappeared. I'm not confident enough to ride in the bike lane on a busy road. The detour took me past a magpie defending its nest, so I was swooped a number of times. It was quite disconcerting to feel the magpie banging into my helmet. I was glad when I was far enough away for the brave bird to decide I was no longer a threat.

I wasn't quite sure where I was at one stage, as the running route I'd taken went cross country to stay near the main road. Being Canberra, all the streets I took seemed to curve in exactly the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I ended up back at the main road eventually, having chugged my way up and down several more hills. I was really working hard. I had to walk a couple of hills because I was so worn out.

When I did finally come out of the maze of streets I discovered I was much closer to my destination than I'd expected. I was also on a lovely long downhill slope. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the ride.

I then came to the section that had put me off riding to work earlier. I had to ride about 600 m on the road. All the traffic on that road is heading to my workplace so it was all going the same way as me. Fortunately, I feel much safer on the bike now so it wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be.

It took me 35 minutes to ride to work, which is about how long it takes me to run to work. I thought that was really amusing, as I'm not a particularly speedy runner. I am sure I'll get that time down once I've worked out a more direct route. On the up side, I wasn't as tired, it was easy to carry my stuff, and I'd burned 440 calories, which I was going to repeat on the way home as well.

I was delighted that I had my pass and didn't have to hang around in my cycling gear in the foyer. It's a shame, but I can see myself losing all fashion sense as I get more into cycling. I wonder if my Style Consultant will help me choose my summer cycling gear.

There are two flights of stairs on the way up to my floor. Whenever I run I make the effort to run up them, so I did that today too. When I got to my desk I was puffing and panting, which had the rest of my team amused.

After work I changed back into my cycling gear and headed home, after raising the bike seat. At least this time, I seemed to get it higher than it had been. I'm not sure if I got it right, but at least I was able to manage the increase in height. I felt safe on the 600 m stretch down to the corner, but I wasn't sure about the busy roundabout at the end, so I crossed over the road before I got there. I'll work it out eventually. From there I tried an alternate route, which worked out really well, although I think the hills might be tougher on the way to work. I'll have to test it out tomorrow. I nearly got myself skittled by a taxi while I was investigating one option, but that option didn't work so I won't be putting myself in that position again.

On the way home I called in at the bike shop to find out what panniers would cost me. I also checked out the price of cleats and bike shoes and I booked my bike in for maintenance next week. I can see that I'm going to have to buy some summer bike gear as well, as I was quite warm in my yellow jacket.

Stopping at the bike shop had me running late for trivia. I texted the team to tell them I was on my way, dashed through the shower, changed yet again (thinking of Sara's six changes the day before) and then raced off to trivia. We had a great night but the other teams in the competition are way too clever.

Normally Wednesday is a slack day for me, but adding the cycling commute has turned it into a good exercise day.


jojo said...

go you for riding to work!!!!you will get more and more confident on the bike.even in your car youll start seeing little hills and go...ooh id feel that on the bike

kathrynoh said...

Woot! That's fantastic, and a great way to get another workout in :D

I've got a new challenge now - running up the stairs at work.

Celeste said...

I love my cycling commute. It sounds like I ride less distance than you, but it's enough to get me set for the day and to destress at the end of the day! You know what is funny? I don't even count the commute as exercise anymore! If the commute is all I do, then it's a rest day! It might be different if I was riding a bit further.

Andrew(ajh) said...

Well done. Not sure if it is just a Victorian thing, but here, next Wednesday is Ride To Work Day.