Saturday, 1 March 2008

Zoom zoom - not

My Australian Cyclist magazine finally arrived this week, bearing within it a story comparing six different types of bikes - racers, hybrids, mountain bikes and a flat bar road bike.

Two things really leapt out at me from the comparison - the enormous difference that tyres can make with cycling, and the fact that they actually used the bikes for an extended period and averaged out the time for a standard commute on each type of bike.

Times ranged from 32 minutes on a racing bike to 41 minutes on a hybrid.

I have always wondered how much longer it takes those plodding mountain and hybrid bike riders that I pass each day to get to and from work. Now I know - about 30% longer than me. I just don't have the personality that allows me to sit back and watch the world go by - I want to thrash things along as fast as they will go, even if it kills me.

One thing that was mentioned about the hybrid was how the relaxed riding position didn't really allow you to attack the pedals, so the only thing to do was to relax and potter along at about half normal speed.

That would kill me.

Another interesting point was that the racing bikes were really too quick for most bike paths. I've often wondered that - there is a bike path along a canal near Leichhardt and it's a lovely ride, but the path is narrow, it meanders through the trees and it cuts through a number of playgrounds, so there are always young kids tottering across the path without looking. Paths like that are simply not designed with road bikes in mind - especially when your idea of cruising is to wind it out to warp 9 and hammer it until the lungs collapse. I've been riding along that path every now and then for three years, and I have never considered until now that the engineers were a bunch of pillocks. What is the point of a bike path that is not suitable for a reasonably fast commute?

Would road engineers build a freeway that could only be driven on at 50kmh? (Well, given the way we are going with creeping stupidity in every aspect of our lives, it might be possible in the future).

The best thing about the comparison is that it made me happy with the choice that I made four years ago to get a road bike. It suits my temperament down to the ground.

The thing is though, when I was coming home on Friday afternoon, I ended up being collected into a pack of at least a dozen riders as we were leaving town. I was sitting at a red light when bikes just started to collect around me, like fluff gathering on your favourite shirt in the dryer. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by a pack.

We all took off at the green, and the bunch stayed together on the first downhill section and didn't lose cohesion as we zipped through Pyrmont. But boy, did it fall apart as soon as we hit the Anzac bridge approach, which is pretty steep. The road bikes tore up the hill at the front of the pack, leaving the mountain and other bikes way behind. I managed to hang with the pack for all of 100 metres, and then I was left behind, struggling up the hill with the road bikes ahead of me and the mountain bikes behind. Left in no mans land.

I bet the buggers ahead of me didn't ride on the wet days like I did, so they were probably fresh as daisies, whilst I was knackered after a tough week.

Any excuse will do in the end.

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