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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Enjoying the ride

I was thinking the other day- what type of riding do I enjoy most?

To get the answer to this question I had to work out what types of riding I do.

I broke it down as follows-

1) Commuting
2) Errands
3) Leisure

I then had to break some of them down further-
Commuting a) Geared and b) Fixed
Leisure a) Pootle b) Hard

I then had to break the leisure rides down a bit more with each category having a flat or hilly category.

Once I had done that I could then think about what was my favourite.

For the Commuting rides, once you remove the fact that I am riding to work 50% of the time which is going to have an obviously negative impact on the ride I was left with the riding itself to contemplate. I have a couple of routes that I can use to vary things and have no particular preference. What I do currently have to use as a guide to my feelings is the fact that Stig, my fixed bike is currently ill. The sprocket started to slip under load the other day and I thought that maybe the sprocket had become unscrewed under leg braking. When I got him up on the stand and examined him however, I discovered that the thread on the hub had stripped and was knackered. I went to turn the wheel and screw the sprocket on the other side and found the thread on the sprocket was suspect so I had to garage Stig whilst I sort out a replacement sprocket. The last couple of commutes have been on my Ridgeback tourer. There is no doubt about it, riding G G G G Granville to work is still fun but nowhere near as enjoyable as riding Stig.

Fixed Commuting wins that contest.

Errands are what I call jumping on the bike to pop to the shops or into the next town to sort something out. They could be as short as a mile return or as long as the 76 mile return trips to hospital appointments in London- basically a ride with a purpose other than enjoyment or earning a crust. I enjoy each and every one of these rides, for a different reason in each case. The quick dash to the shops I enjoy because it is a stolen moment on the bike. The trips into town for whatever reason because I’m revisiting areas that I may not have ridden for a while. The hauls into London because they are always a bit of an adventure- packing my lunch for a swift solitary picnic in Regents Park or because I have on previous appointment trips arranged to meet up with folk I have got to know on yacf or its predecessor ACF.

There is no contest here- I enjoy them all for their own reasons.

Leisure rides are those that I do on my days off- the Sunday morning loop on my Cannondale ‘Best Bike’. I classed them as Pootle or Hard to describe the way I tackle the ride. If it is a nice comfortable ride just for the hell of it, this is a Pootle. If I go out and want to tear up the roads (usually after watching an epic Grand Tour stage or other race footage), then it is a Hard ride. The flat or hilly bit is self explanatory. Living in South Bucks, on the edge of the Chilterns, most loops take in some degree of ascending and the accompanying descents but, if I want to do a good hilly ride, I can do loops with at least half a dozen climbs ranging from about half a mile to a mile or more with gradients ranging from about 6% up to 20% or steeper. Now, when I have decided to do a hilly loop, often I find myself experiencing the Alien Chest Burster feeling I mentioned in a previous post. Some of the climbs are tough and I feel like I am dying as I tackle them and if you were to see me as I summit, you might be tempted to reach for a handy defibrillator, just in case. I am absolutely certain I look nothing like someone should look if they are having a good time.

Te feeling I have after a good hilly loop is much better than the others. Don’t get me wrong, the others are damn fine rides however.

Having looked at all the evidence. The conclusion I have come to is that I enjoy all my riding for various reasons but, the riding that gives me the MOST satisfaction and enjoyment is the hard hilly leisure ride.

Perhaps there is something I like about the pain…….


  1. I tend to go through phases and yern for whichever I haven't done in a while.

  2. I'm a MTBer at heart, although I do enjoy my road biking and towpath commutes.

  3. Its odd, but I even miss my commute after i've been forced to drive for a few days.