Saturday, 28 March 2009

Sunday morning swarm

I have been a lazy git for the last 6 months. For some years, I have been used to arising before the dawn and riding with lights glaring fore and aft. But there is a big difference between riding to work and riding to stop the mid rift from expanding - you have to go to work (assuming you have a job, and are not a bone-idle bludger), but the same motivation is usually not there to avoid eating another chocolate croissant, or getting the odometer past the 100 mile mark for the week.

Riding to work can be physically hard but mentally easy. You have to get there, unless there is a category 4 storm raging outside, or a swarm of killer bees is on the loose. And since most of my jobs have been in the CBD, the distance is an easy 12 to 14km (depending on which end of town I am working in). If it's pouring rain, I know that I only have to put up with it for half an hour, then I will step out of a cold shower (the rain) and into a hot shower (in the office). Why bother about getting wet in those circumstances? Plus, I have invested in clothing that reduces the level of misery to an acceptable level.

The physical issues (you are about to get cold and wet, and may slide over and hit the concrete in a nasty manner) can be dealt with through proper clothing (to a certain extent - rain always finds the gaps and ends up sliding down your back) and being careful; but the mental issues are something that can't be solved through buying something in a catalogue. Motivation in whatever pursuits we choose to follow is a personal thing, and we all have our own ways of extracting ourselves from bed on cold and miserable mornings. Having to go to work helps, as does liking the work you do, and the people you work with.

But if you don't have to go to work? What if you are simply riding because it is good for you? Where does one draw motivation from when the weather is inclement and the knees are sore?

I draw a lot of motivation simply from seeing other cyclists out and about - especially fast, fit ones. I want to be like them, and the only way I'll get like them is to train, train, train. And avoid too many chocolate croissants.

So here is a small motivational strip from this morning.

Regular users of the Bay talk about the "inner west intelligence test", which many pedestrians fail by walking in clearly marked bike lanes. Here we have the Homebush intelligence test, with the jogger in blue in front of me running in a bike lane, when there is a very good running track 10 feet to his left.

I stopped at one spot and decided to see how many cyclists I could photograph in a 5 minute period. Of course at that moment, the supply of bikes utterly dried up. The swarm of cycles evaporated. So I waited a bit more, and snapped this lot in about 2 minutes - popular place, Homebush, at 8am.

This guy was hooting. He must have been up earlier than me, since he is wearing arm warmers and an extra layer. Or, he simply has a lot less natural insulation than I do.

All shapes and sizes.

Another pair having a yakity-yak. Note the preponderance of men aged about 40 and up. It's the perfect physical activity when your knees are shot, and you have a reasonable bank balance.

We step back to the more upright style of cyclist here - a more comfortable stance perhaps, with flatbar handlebars - but they tend to travel much more slowly than I can put up with.

There are actually 4 bikes in this picture. A mix of fast road bikes and a "built for comfort rather than speed" hybrid with, flatbars.

Two more dawdlers.

This is about 5% of the cyclists that I saw this morning. I went past a cafe in Concord that was just a sea of lycra - everyone had done a few laps of the suburb, and then retired for a good coffee and a chat at the preferred latte delivery system. The weather now is about as good as it can get - not too hot, not too cold, no rain, no wind. The perfect time to be wearing the rubber off the tyres.

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