Posts Tagged ‘commute’


Two weeks ago I had a crash on my commute to work. For various reasons it’s taken me a while to get around to documenting this unfortunate incident – but there it is. I crashed.

I was riding in on a drizzly Monday morning when somebody opened their passenger-side door into my right quad. It happened in a split-second, and I landed in a heap in the gutter, my bike likewise. People asked me whether I flew into a rage at the passenger – I didn’t, the pain and shock made me dazed and docile. The passenger, driver, and various bystanders huddled around me for a minute or so, then, satisfied that I would live through it, got back to their Monday mornings. I continued the commute powered by my left leg only.

It hurt quite a lot. I took Tuesday off at home to ice it and try and bring the swelling down. My main worry of course was that the injury would affect my preparation for the Puncheur, but in fact I rode my bike home gingerly Wednesday night, and experienced only a slight loss of power on a long ride on Sunday. I limped painfully for a few days, though. The bruising spread around my whole upper thigh and down to my knee. Even two weeks on, I still get woken up by the discomfort in the morning.

A few days after...

Mellow yellow, a few days after...

Tears in the rain

I made only 5 commute legs last week, but on every single one I got drenched. Standing at my side gate on Thursday evening, fumbling with a set of keys, I turned to look at the rain drizzling around a street lamp, and recalled Blade Runner.

West Norwood commute

Here’s my new commute route:

View West Norwood – work in a larger map

So – 8.35 miles, 40 minutes each way on average. It’s a tougher ride in than my former one – not just because it’s 3 miles longer, but because there’s more traffic, more traffic lights, more exhaust, and more other cyclists on the road. There are more tricky bits where you need to be in the right lane, or you need to take a particular bike path – or you’re toast, basically. There’s no final stretch up Dartmouth Park Hill to finish you off, but on the way home the route between Acre Lane and Thornlaw Road does gradually climb and it can be as hard as you want it to be. 4 days of 80 mins per day can deaden your legs at this stage in the season as well, especially on 6-7 hours of sleep per night.

Day off tomorrow.

Commuting: dawn of a new era


Box fresh: the Edinburgh Bicycle Revolution Courier Race.

I have a new hack. Soak it up.

For the last 5 or so years of living in London, I’ve got by on a motley crew of unreliable commute bikes, piecing together old broken frames with hand-me-down componentry and bottom-dollar bits. I’ve only ever ridden nice, smooth bikes on the weekend. No longer.

I bought the Edinburgh Bicycle Revolution Courier Race in a hurry following the sudden demise of the Ballistic. Slightly gutting was today’s realisation that had I waited 2 days I could have cashed in on the EB sale, saving £50 (15% off). F@*K.

Anyhow, I’ve now ridden the bike home. First impressions:

  • it’s heavy (frankly)
  • pretty wishy-washy steering BUT
  • it’s sturdy
  • it’s fast
  • the brakes are solid
  • it fits

The steering issue is probably more to do with my having ridden a bike with bent forks for 18 months, and I’ll get used to it over time. I’ve now fitted mudguards, SPDs and light mounts – bring on the autumn!

Snow sucks

This weather is busting me up. My bike’s still dirty from the Ashdown, my commute hack’s dying on its legs, all I want to do is ride in the sun.

The hack

My hack bike is the one I commute on. Here she is, the Ballistic, in all her filthy glory (and in high-contrast black and white to emphasise her gritty street credentials). Robust and uncomplaining, the Ballistic has seen me through two years of hardcore inner-London riding. She’s caked in dirt and oil, the grips are worn out, the forks are bent (a slight late-night mishap, I’m not going into it), the rear hub rattles and the saddle always slips back on the seatpost. But she’s light, nimble, and capable of serious speed when properly worked.

The bread and butter

View Larger Map

Here’s a map of my route to work. 5.38 miles each way / 10.72 miles per day. Not bad for keeping the legs ticking over 4 days a week. It takes me at about 30 minutes, although I’ve never timed myself. It’s a good route:

  • Descending Dartmouth Park Hill really blows out the cobwebs in the morning, and provides a tough climb to finish on the way home at night.
  • The whole area around Belsize Park, Chalk Farm and Primrose Hill is pleasantly quiet, green and varied – this route cuts out the clogged Kentish Town Road / Fortess Road stretch.
  • Regent’s Park is good for a burst of speed if the legs demand it. It’s hard to see how I will ever get tired of drafting and overtaking other riders on this stretch.

On a general note, I really feel that, if you live in London and within 45 minutes to work by bike, and you’re lucky enough to have two legs, functioning lungs and a brain, you should be riding to work. Your life will be enhanced immeasurably. When I ride to work, I arrive:

  • Wide awake
  • Endorphin-charged and happy
  • Showered and fresh (I have a shower at work – you’ll need it)

Whereas, on days when I don’t ride and have to take the bus or – in a worst-case scenario – the tube, I arrive:

  • Grumpy
  • Sweaty
  • Tired
  • Poorer by £1-£2.50

Naturally, I don’t commute on the Wilier. I’ll be introducing my hack bike soon.