Spokes(Wo)Man

Scared of traffic ? No bike infrastructure ? Too Far ? Helmet hair ?

 

Fuck it, ride anyway

Me 1 - Nemesis 0

It’s been a rolling week of milestones; successfully riding together with Sprocketman, hitting my first 1,000km of commuting, and now the crowning glory in my cycling career to date.

Two weeks ago I chronicled my fall, in musical terms, while attempting to get home via my usual route of Alpe d’Rothwell.

This is a short but viciously steep hill quite close to the end of my journey.  So you’ve pedalled up and down, but mostly up hills for an hour already, you come screaming down maybe the steepest descent on the entire trip, have a sharp left turn then a sharp right up onto this monster. The left/right turn combine to rob you of much of your momentum from the descent. You’re also changing gear up and down, braking and indicating. Why not ask me to simultaneously rub my head and pat my tummy as well? Shell some peas while I’m at it ? Bah.

  As you can see, I run a pretty fancy Mandatory Helmet. Hey, the law doesn't mean you can't decorate a little, although it's about time I went for a manicure.

As you can see, I run a pretty fancy Mandatory Helmet. Hey, the law doesn't mean you can't decorate a little, although it's about time I went for a manicure.

In short, it’s always been a perfect storm for me.

I have managed it once in the past, but that was when I rode down here from home, about 5 minutes away, and attacked it with fresh legs, just to see if I could.

Now, in retrospect I haven’t been making the correct gear changes on the hills and corners, and so in past commutes I’ve got about as far as this lady in pink (and boy is she sick of me) before I grudgingly hop off or fall off, depending on the dexterity of the day.

Yeah, I have to walk my bike the rest of the way up this hill. There’s no real shame in this (except oh, the crushing disappointment).

Failure is a subjective term: is it a fail if you have to get off and walk up a hill? Or a win because you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and are doing it anyway? I tend to lean heavily towards the latter...
Having to walk just means, a) you learned something about bikes, or b) you are pushing yourself to do something challenging. Either way, in my book, that’s a win.
— Chris Boardman, Olympic gold medalist, multiple Tour de France prologue winner and British Cycling’s policy advisor

Of the group I started off riding with, only one of them had the legs to ride this all the way each time. So I have walked this walk of defeat with a few people.

Sprocketman has managed, but he really really hates it and goes literally miles out of his way up less steep hills, and then fangs it up the Pacific Highway through the peak hour traffic jams and pollution to avoid it.  

But yesterday Dear Reader, I made it.

I got the gear combo right, the speed right; I had to do some zig-zagging to get up the hill and I sounded like an emphysemic elephant in anaphylactic shock, but I pedalled all the way and oh how satisfying that was!

A passing motorist changing into low gear shouted congratulations at me in passing, which I thought was the loveliest thing any motorist has ever done.

After that, there’s another ripper of a descent, followed by a longer but easier hill, a flat section, another steepish hill and then flat all the way home. Here’s my ride elevation;

I stopped wheezing about halfway up the final hill, and another cheery bloke putting his bins out gave me a “well done!”

People can actually be kind of sweet sometimes.