This week I managed to ride to work three times. It's 10 km each way, so it's great exercise. I've been working at motivating myself to start cycling before the weather gets too cold. I figure that if I can get into the habit now, it will be easier to tough it out through winter. That's the plan at least.
On Wednesday and Thursday I left home about 7:30 am. Well, I started to leave home at 7:30. For some reason it takes me a while to actually get out the door and started. There's the Garmin to organise, the panniers to put on the bike, the various essential accessories, etc etc. The ride is taking me about 40 minutes at the moment.
The first five km is along the bike path, which is lovely and flat and safe. There are other people out and about, walking their dogs or cycling to work. There's even the occasional runner. The path follows the old creek bed, now a storm water drain, so there are long sweeping curves which are fun to ride.
The next km is across town. Now Civic is not exactly metropolitan Melbourne, so that's not as daunting as it sounds. On Wednesday I was brave and headed along the bike lane on Barry Drive. I was quite proud of myself for a few moments then the bike lane ran out, my lane was closed to traffic, I was intimidated by the traffic and ended up on the footpath (temporarily closed to pedestrians but I was desperate). It's just as well that I don't ride a mountain bike as my bike would have hung its head in shame when I dismounted to walk it across a gutter.
The last few km are pretty much uphill most of the way. I rode along a few streets and then was up on the footpath along the road to the War Memorial. I decided the footpath was a much safer option the other day when I was watching a cyclist from a taxi. There's not much room along that road at all. Oh, in the ACT cyclists are allowed on the footpath.
The really really big hill (I could put a few more reallys in there for emphasis - just imagine my arms as wide apart as they can go - it's big) starts just after the War Memorial. It's definitely a granny gear hill. The feeling of achievement once you get to the top is amazing. There's a second little hill to climb after that, but it's a doddle once you've done the first. Then there's this amazing coast down to the turn off to work. It's great fun, particularly as you know you have completely earned it.
Locking the bike up and taking the bits and pieces off it is getting to be a regular routine. Mind you, I did all that on Thursday and then forgot to actually lock the bike up. I didn't realise until I was getting changed to go home. You can imagine how I felt until I got down to the bike rack and saw my trusty bicycle still there.
On Wednesday afternoon I discovered an unpleasant side of commuting the extra distance to work. Yes, my cycle gear was kind of .. well .. yuck! I left the bag open on Thursday and aired out my top layer and on Friday, as I did an hour of PT on the way to work, I brought a change of clothes for the trip home.
Commuting every day has another logistical problem to overcome - clean cycle gear. It's getting so cold in the mornings now that long leggings are the way to go. I have the great knicks that I bought for the Yass ride, which I wore on Wednesday. On Thursday I resorted to a pair of long leggings over cycle shorts, but I was in trouble on Friday. I called in at the LBS on Thursday evening and bought myself a pair of leg warmers. On my way out I remembered that my neck had been quite cold in the morning, so I ended up buying a tube scarf thing that can be worn several different ways, including pulled up over my nose on freezing mornings. I tested it out on Friday and it was great. So were the leggings. In fact, the coldest part of me ended up being my butt. I think I'll have to work it so that I wear the really great cycle knicks on Fridays, as I leave an hour earlier to get to my PT session.
The ride home starts off with a logistical problem - how to get safely across the road when everyone is tearing off home. There's a road down to a large roundabout on a major road. There's a bike lane on the major road, so technically once you're around the roundabout you're ok. Alternatively, you can cross the road and travel on the footpath on the other side of the road. Crossing the road is the problem. I've tried crossing at a few different places. There was so much homeward bound traffic on Wednesday that I ended up getting off my bike and walking across the road. On Thursday I got into the right lane at the roundabout and then managed to cross the street to the footpath as there wasn't much traffic. On Friday I went around the large roundabout (yes, I am getting brave). I was doing really well, although one driver entering the roundabout from the other side waited until I was almost past him and going into the bike lane when he decided to turn left as though I wasn't there. I had to hit the brakes to avoid him. It seems right of way may be a myth when you're a cyclist.
On the way home I've found that it's easiest to cross a number of roads at the lights. All I have to do now is work out a safe route between the lights. Crossing Civic in the evenings is harder than in the mornings. Again, it's roundabouts that cause the problem. I've always laughed at how badly Canberra drivers manage roundabouts, but I'm finding myself less and less amused these days. Once I'm on the bike path though it's a fabulous ride home.
I've got guests arriving for dinner shortly, so I'll blog about my PT sessions another time.