Cycle commuting day 1

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My beast parked in the office

It’s been a long time since I commuted to work on a bicycle. But I used to do it so much that it all came back easily this morning. I am using my forced break from running to explore my relationship with exercise, competition and my physical body in more detail. For example, running made it easy for me to keep weight off but now that I can’t run, I need to pay more attention to how I fuel my body.

I used to cycle commute every day. From 1999 to 2003 I worked for the railways and cycled to work, first the 12km each way from Boondall to Bowen Hills, then the 24km each way from Bray Park to Bowen Hills. After I changed jobs in early 2003 until 2006, I cycled the 27km each way from Bray Park to the Brisbane CBD every day. I enjoyed my riding and especially enjoyed buying a new bike every 18 months (bicycles were cheaper back then).

Then I had a string of bad luck. First I broke  a toe when someone opened a car door as I was riding past. Then two men tried to grab me off my bike while they drove past before swinging a hockey stick at me out the window. Then, I got wedged between a bus and a 4WD, barely managing to stay upright but hitting my head hard on the sides of both vehicles. The resultant concussion scared me and I had nightmares for a long time afterwards because I realised how close I had come to being run over by the bus. I stopped cycling for 3 years after that incident.

In 2009 I started cycle commuting because I had this ridiculous plan to cycle from Brisbane to Melbourne during the Australian summer. My commute was from the Redlands to the Brisbane CBD, a total of 45km each way. I got very fit very quickly for the three months I commuted but it didn’t help me on my planned tour. I suffered extreme heat stroke on the first day of my ride and had to return home where I spent a week experiencing the vomiting, dairrhea, inability to eat and Powerade cravings that come with extreme heat exhaustion. That was the final straw that made me scared to cycle.

Until 2011 when I got back on the bike.

In some ways, I think my leg injuries might be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps I am meant to overcome my fear of cycling and to once again embrace it as a form of recreation and transport. My cycle commute this morning was certainly enjoyable and relaxing. I have to ride down busy roads but they have wide shoulders. And I actually made it to work on-time for the first time this year because I didn’t have to go training, have breakfast, go to work. I just had to have breakfast and go to work.

My direct commute is just under 13km each way. It’s not far but there’s plenty of scope for me to extend my rides.

It feels good to be back on the pushbike commuting to work. I don’t know how long it will last because we don’t have showers but if I take things one day at a time I might find myself being a regular cycle commuter again.

Total: 26km by the time I ride home tonight.

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5 responses to “Cycle commuting day 1

  1. Glad to hear it went well. You’ve got a nice bike. We don’t have showers where I work, so its a wash in the sink in the ladies and hope my helmet hasn’t made my hair look too bad 🙂

    Hope you continue to enjoy it 🙂

    • Yeah, this one is a nice bike. It’s a 1996 frame with 2005 components on it. I love the frame despite its age because it’s super lightweight and I fit it perfectly. I need to replace the chain, cassette, rear derailleur and tyres to bring it up to really sweet riding standard – all easy and relatively cheap to do now that I’m teaching myself basic bike mechanics. It’s an 8-speed with a triple chain ring set-up so parts are pretty cheap.

      I ordered a flash 1,000 lumen Ayup headlight set for it yesterday, which should arrive next week. And I’m hoping to get a handlebar bag that I can use for longer rides to save carrying a backpack.

      My other bike (the purple fully rigid MTB) is an ugly duckling but it too is perfect for me because I fit the frame nicely. It needs a new rear derailleur, chain, cassette and handlebar grips. I suspect it could do with new brake and gear cables too but haven’t looked into it yet. I’ll start with fixing the few things on the roady and will then do the MTB.

      I have a pannier rack and bag set for the MTB, which I can then use when I have lots of things to carry to work for my commute. The MTB also has a groovy little trailer I can attach to it for if I need to do shopping on my way home. It’s pretty heavy but is still nicer to ride with than a backpack. I’ve resisted selling the trailer because I know I’m going to want to use it again 🙂

      • I’ve just ordered a road bike through our Cylce2Work scheme and looking forward to taking part in some future road events.

        The frames are so different now and seem so much smaller compared with those of a few years ago.

        It’s killing me having to wait for it to come into stock lol. Might have to wait until early November!

  2. Those are horrible stories about being attacked on your bike and almost being flattened by the bus! Way to conquer your fears and jump back in the saddle.

    • Unfortunately, my stories of being attacked are not uncommon amongst Brisbane commuters. For some reason we have this horrible rivalry between drivers and cyclists. It’s getting better but only because there are now far more cyclists on the road here than ever before. It’s as though drivers don’t realise that cyclists have a right to be on the road, have cars so also pay road-related taxes and actually reduce congestion by being one less car on the road. I’ve heard of people having glass beer bottles or cans of cola thrown at them. Our government has started advertising on television to try to reduce the conflict so hopefully the next generation of drivers are more bike aware.

      Mind you, packs of cyclists hogging the road don’t help. We’ve started to get an increase in that on popular cycle routes. Peletons will take up entire lanes and travel at 30-45kph in 60-80kph areas, creating immense frustration for the drivers stuck behind them. I think the respect and good behaviour has to flow both ways.

      I’m enjoying cycling again at the moment. It’s been a long time since I could say that. I also think it helps that I’m mentally focused on the upcoming Audax Australia riding season, rather than on training for triathlon or anything like that. My riding at the moment is more focused on enjoying being outdoors, rather than speed or training. I haven’t even been tagging my posts as ‘training’ anymore, which is a nice change. I hope to carry this same focus on pleasure through to my running when I return to biped-power.

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