I’ve been out cycling a little bit recently and I have been enjoying it. As a calorie burner it’s not as efficient as running/jogging but it is a different activity and fun. Also, as I can cycle three to four times faster than I can run and because of the increased time needed to burn fat I now have somewhere between 9 and 25 times the area to investigate – it depends on a number of factors but is essentially the length scale factor squared.
When I’ve been out I’ve been changing gear but I have been wondering what the actual ratios are and understanding these would make things a little more efficient and help me know when it’s best to change from big to small etc. The bike is an 18 speed machine which I find surprising but then I’m slightly old and can remember 5 speed derailleurs being impressive technology. I looked up the number of teeth on each gear and created a spreadsheet.
This now means that I understand the numbers more and can change into a more correct gear given the upcoming terrain. All the above are in the form 1 : n, where it is turns of pedal : turns of wheel. On a more fundamental level I think I am surprised at how efficient we are at cycling and it should be done more, if you can get a bike.
Sometime last year I managed to run home from work and then the following day run in to work. This I did once. Mostly because I lost the fitness bug and also because I became mentally unable to do much. I might have written about it somewhere within these pages but I can’t remember and I’m not going to search. I wanted to get more exercise and try to lose some mass but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Earlier this calendar year I was feeling bad about the environment and how much we have messed up the future of this world for my children’s generation. I think the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations really got me thinking. So, I decided maybe I should ride a bike to work. I’d save a little on petrol, use less fossil fuel and keep fit. I decided I would investigate a bike.
Then. The world blew up. I was working from home and there didn’t seem to be a reason to suddenly investigate a bike. Once my routine had settled I started looking at bikes online and getting advice from friends. Would you believe it? Every fucker was buying a bike for something to do. It would appear that walking or running was too hard work for them and loads of people got the biking bug. I couldn’t buy a bike. I still planned to though. Mind you, this also meant getting a shed that would fit the bike as I don’t have a garage or anything like that to store the machine.
A few weeks ago I checked a local bike shop’s website and THEY HAD STOCK. Well, I was browsing really, not that bothered about buying at that point, but if I didn’t order something then I would be waiting another few months so I pressed “add to basket”, added some accessories and then waited for my delivery date. It took about 8 days for the bike to be in shop. I guess that’s not so bad. It’s very easy to forget that in this world some things you have to wait for, we are so used to everything being there right now. The next issue was a bike carrier for the car. In case I wanted to take the bike to the other end of the country and to move small bikes around. My car, Bora Horza Gobuchul, is a stupid shape and so I had to spend quite a bit on a bike carrier. Having now used it, I’m not sure I would take bikes on a long journey but it functioned well.
On delivery day I was persuaded to buy a year’s maintenance plan for the bike. I have no idea if that was good value for money but it seemed sensible. I haven’t maintained a bike, ever. Even when I was young all I did was make sure the tyres were at the correct pressure. I never really cleaned a bike or did any other type of maintenance. Pretty similar to my motorcycle history too, washing bikes was something other people did. The bike now rests in my dining room and will eventually live in the shed, but as you probably know, there is a seven week delivery time for a shed!
My observations on the first ride I had in over twenty years was that it was not a smooth ride. I did a little tarmac but mostly footpaths across fields which are fine to run on but cycling caused arse issues. I was being bumped all over the place and I did wonder if rear suspension would have been sensible, then I realised that the front suspension didn’t seem to be doing much. A even cycled down the North Downs on a footpath that I normally run and I found that a little scary as I had to keep the brakes on the whole time and was convinced I was going to hit the gate at the bottom of the track. I’ll have to try again soon.
On another ride with other people it turned out that the level of comfort was much better because we weren’t travelling so fast. The bumps in the footpaths seemed levelled out with a lower speed and perhaps there’s a lesson for me. I will have to try another ride soon across some tracks and see if I can go slower. I’m not convinced I will be able to, we all have our natural riding speed I reckon.
I’ve completed a practice commute, to see how sweaty I get and to check out the route. I got very sweaty. I’ll have to plan cooling down time and somehow work on the logistics of shirts and clothes which will be ferried in the car on days that I can’t use the bike. I’m also slightly worried about being able to see in the darker months but will figure that out when it happens. I’ve got a good head torch I use when running so maybe I can fit that to the bike helmet? Who knows? Plenty of time to think about it.
I actually have quite enjoyed discovering new stuff. More paths further from home. There’s plenty to explore and further to travel. I’m looking forward to it all. Except the cars.
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