The other week I mentioned I was going to try and start cycling in to work this year. Well, on Monday I made my first attempt and yes, I made it in the whole way!
It’s around 27 miles, which is a distance I do fairly often but not yet regularly enough. However, this route is a bit hillier than my usual bimble around the Somerset levels, plus I had two laden pannier bags. I also decided to to take my time and not rush as I wasn’t sure of the route, and I didn’t want to completely knacker myself for a days work afterwards.
I set off at 6.30am and it took me just over 2 and a half hours. Now, I know that’s reeeeaaaaallllly slow for a road ride, but I’d also like to add that I made it up all the hills, including a rather hairy one on an A-road, and was quite capable of working productively afterwards, so I’d count that as a success. And dammit, I’m pretty happy I made it in!
And the ride was (mostly) lovely! I took a quiet route out of Weston along the sea-front and along the wooded coastal road. It was a tiny bit nerve wracking as there is not street lighting that way, just the whisper of the wind and a roar of the waves below. Happily, there weren’t many cars and I had confidence new Knog rear light would be plenty bright enough.
The other nervy section was along the A370 from Hewish to Congressbury. There’s not really an alternative route for this section, and the road is single carriageway and really busy.
You’d think I’d be used to cycling in traffic from years of commuting in central London, but this was different. Yes, there’s load of cars in London but actually they are usually not moving very fast, and even when they are moving fast it certainly isn’t as fast as they go on a de-restricted A-road in the country in rush hour! But I kept calm and steady, and got through until I could escape onto a beautiful country back road with zero cars on it, and then join the Festival Way National Cycle Network Route 33 which is mostly off-road all the way into Bristol.
This route is fab – there’s one section which runs beside the railway on a smooth tarmac path. It got me thinking; how wonderful would it be if there were paths like this alongside all the railway lines in the UK? They’re off road, away from traffic, and of course handily direct for travelling form town to town. You’d just need a few meters on one side of the line to put them in place.
Back to my commute. Tantalisingly close to Bristol, the temperature dropped. It may have only been a few degrees, but it was so cold I thought my fingers and toes were going to fall off. They actually hurt. I’d put on, I thought, plenty of layers and had even been a bit too hot in some sections of the ride. Now I’m thinking I might invest in some significantly warmer gloves before I try that ride again. The main thing that got me going was the hot cup of tea I was going to bee-line for when I got in.
The last section was beautiful; into the frost-covered winter wonderland of Ashton Court, with deer roaming about, up the hill and across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. What a way to enter a city!
So will I do it again? Of course! I still have to build up to doing both in and out, so I may just cycle in and get the train home for now. I’m also investing in some warmer gloves. But I’d love to be physically able to do it regularly by the time the days are longer and warmer, because it’s going to be such a nice thing to do in the mornings and evenings – cycling through the countryside, warm air on my skin, blue skies, and fresh breezes. Doesn’t that sound good to you?