The new commute

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with my new commute to work. Whilst the distance of 26 km each way is arguably a little further than an ‘ideal’ commuting distance, it is still manageable and provides a good variation of route options. Understandably, I started off with the route I already knew, which could be termed the “SatNav Route” as it seems to be along all of the most popular driving roads. I sometimes wonder whether the advent of satnavs in cars has made popular roads even more popular and minor roads even quieter as drivers follow the computer and don’t go hunting for shortcuts. The ideal cycling route is therefore not the “SatNav Route” and this did not last for long.

The next stage in my route-learning process required the essential use of my faithful laminator. Most cyclists inherently know the formula “paper map + sweat + rain = soggy unreadable mush”. The answer to this problem is a laminator, however until Parktools invent a portable cyclist’s laminator you may have to ‘borrow’ one from work.

you may also need to borrow a colour photocopier first … 

Voila – a DIY weather-proof map

Your life may never be the same again

With plastificated map stuffed in my back pocket, I set off for home one evening with the intention of taking the most direct route home. It turned out to be ridiculously hilly and along several treacherous roads with potholes the size of bike wheels. It did however offer some spectacular views.

View from Butcombe across the Chew Valley

Attempting to cycle through a gravel pit can also be troublesome

In hindsight this was clearly a wrong turning and didn’t need me to go all the way to the end to make sure. It was however a good test of bike handling skills on skinny road tyres

In the end, the ‘most direct route’ was only one kilometre shorter and took almost 25 minutes longer than normal. Definitely one to be saved for a relaxing ride home on a sunny evening.

For the last week the weather has turned pretty nasty. Lots of wind and rain which has required me to find the quickest and easiest route and then stick to it. Due to some mechanical problems with my commuter bike I was on the racing bike today. This made a nice change and resulted in me getting to work 10 minutes quicker than normal. However I then spent about 15 minutes cleaning all the rain, mud and crap off the bike so overall the commuter bike is still technically quicker! As a handicap on the return journey I decided to add some ballast to my rucksack to even things out:

Part 1 in the exciting 10 part series – “Heavy stuff to chuck in your bag to make cycling tougher”

For the rest of this week I will likely be on the good bike which will be enjoyable but also raises some concerns with its security at work and general wear and tear to the bike. At least it means I can have an extra 10 minutes in bed which is a factor that cannot be ignored.