Saturday, 28 June 2008

Cycling all the way?

For the first time, since I began to cycle-commute in earnest, these last couple of days, I have felt I finally was making some progress. True I've been cycling a good deal, but I'm afraid I've always been envious of the mileages other bloggers, such as Doug the mnbicyclecommuter, and Gill, of up in alaska fame, who seem to knock up 30+ miles daily, and more. Working 12 hour shifts, and my other commitments at home, hasn't helped, but I've finally increased the mileage, and seemingly, with very little extra effort, save time.

I started out this week, looking to cut the car out of my commute to work completely, by cycling to Neath, then making the rest of the journey, on the train, with my bike. Wednesday was the big day, I cycled to Neath, on my way to my dayshift, left home at 04.10, arrived at the station at 05.00, well in time for the 05.09 train, tried to buy my annual train ticket, but couldn't, because I needed a photo, all the time I've been enquiring about this nobody has mentioned the need for one? So I bought a single ticket to Port Talbot, intending to go out on my break, and get some passport photos, from a booth, to use when I bought the annual train ticket on my way home, later.

The day raced by, and we were busy at work, and I didn't get out to get the photos, home time came, my relief arrived, so I headed across the road on my Subway 8, towards the station. I decided, out of the blue, that no I wasn't going to wait the 20 minutes for the train, and would go for it, and cycle all the way home.

I was a bit dubious that I would make it all the way, but I needn't have feared, because though it took me 1 hour and 25 minutes, I enjoyed every minute of it, even the hills, mileage 19, giving a total for the day of 30. Thursday, I decided I wanted to ride all the way in, but would leave it till I got to Neath, whether or not to take the train. I got there in plenty of time, and just carried on, once more I cycled all the way, none the worse for wear.

My colleagues, at work, quickly decided I was completely mad, to get up at 03.55, and cycle 19 miles to work, but I felt great, and couldn't wait for the leg home. So far my extra long commutes, had been in fine weather, but during the day the weather started taking a considerable change for the worse. By home time, the wind had got up to 20 mph or so, and would be a headwind for me to battle against, and rain was imminent.

Setting out at 16.40, I was able to cycle strongly into the wind, surprising myself, that I was comfortably pedalling in 7th gear. The rain kept threatening, but I wasn't subjected to a real downpour, until I got to Neath, there I had to put on my waterproof jacket, I didn't bother with the trousers, preferring to stick to my ordinary shorts, I didn't want to get too hot. Showers kept coming in heavy bursts, but that only made the ride, that much more enjoyable for me.

I made it home by 18.10, one and a half hours, I know that isn't fast, in anyone's book, but I don't want to go fast, and I'm so proud of myself.

Friday was a day off for me, I didn't ride the bike at all, Elizabeth and I went out to do some shopping while we also babysat Jack, while his mum, Anne had the car serviced, after shopping etc., we went and picked up Conor, then Anne, and dropped them all back to their car. Meanwhile, I had a call from work asking, me in to do a nightshift. I need the overtime, so I said yes, but was annoyed that it was too late to cycle to work.

It's Saturday evening now, I've just been outside, checking my tyres for glass etc., pressure, I also lubed my chain, pedals and hubs. Really pleased with my tyres, but disappointed that I had to dig a shard of glass, out of the front, why is there so much glass out there? Anyway, the Subway is ready for my commute tomorrow, and guess what, I'll be cycling all the way.

That annual train ticket will have to be bought, I've finally got the passport photo, because it will always be a backup, the car could well be resting alot, as far as travelling to and from work is concerned at least.

Monday, 23 June 2008

I need self-discipline to keep up this blog....

I'm enjoying my cycling more than ever these days, thanks to having no punctures, dare I say it, for quite some time now, I'm touching wood for luck, when I say that, and now my fingers are crossed, which is difficult while typing this. 25 miles is a regular daily trip, for me lately, everyday this week, so far, it's only Monday, having said that, but anyway, yesterday and today I rode into Neath station and back, as I did a couple of days, last week. Basically checking out my new part-commute route.

With the price of car fuel, I use diesel, rising so much, I've decided to cut the car, completely out of my commute. Instead of driving to Aberdulais and then cycling, about 11 miles each way, I'm going to cycle to Neath, then catch the train to my work. It will increase my daily mileage by a mere 2, but the road is a bit more challenging i.e., bigger hills to contend with. A big plus on top of that benefit, is the fact it will save a lot of money on fuel, and will be an extremely cheap way of commuting.

The company I work for, Network Rail, has a green policy, of encouraging, one cycling, hence I bought my Subway 8, through it's Cycle2Work scheme, and two, trying to get its staff to use public transport. So now I'm buying an annual rail ticket, to use from Neath to Port Talbot, the cost is £312, but the company will pay half, great isn't it? Therefore, for the princely sum of £3 a week, I can travel back and fro Neath and Port Talbot, as often as I like. If all goes well the car will be missing me a lot.

Unfortunately there is a down side to this new commute system of mine, there always is, isn't there? Oh to live in a perfect world. The bad news is, my day will get longer, when on day shift, in particular, because to travel home, in the evening, I'll probably have to wait till 18.30 to start my journey home, that means I won't get in until 19.30 at best, which is a long day, when you have to get up again at 04.00!!! But I'm determined to give it a go. No turning back now, anyway, the company has paid its half of the ticket already, so unless I want to give the money back, there's no other choice, as Hobson would say.

I have failed, miserably, to keep this blog going on a regular basis. One of my biggest problems, I'm very sad to say, is quite simply, distraction, my better half will tell you that I drive her to distraction, but that's another matter. The fact is, I'm prone to get sidetracked, when something needs to be done. I keep putting things off, until they're all queueing up, urgently needing to be sorted, I've done it all my life, what a ditherer, eh?

One of the things I've been saying I'll get on top of is downloading photos from my mobile phone to this, my blog, still no progress, another is to improve my typing skills, so that I can update the blog more quickly, no progress there either. I won't touch on all the things Elizabeth is patiently waiting for me to sort out around the house, it's really an endless list, built up by my fantastic ability to be distracted. Can I help it if I find all sorts of everything to be interested in, or need to take a closer look at?

Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Happy cycling everyone.