Some days, it's lovely. A bit chilly, but lovely. You just need to give it 5 minutes for the blood to start flowing to the fingertips, and after that, it's OK.
Friday was a different story. It was blowing a gale when I left town, and I was knackered before I even started. The whole family has had a cold, and it started to bite me on Friday morning. To top it off, the legs were cramping heading in to town.
Don't ask me which muscles were cramping - it was the back of one leg and the front of the other. That meant I could pull up with one leg and push down with the other. Not the best way to ride.
I really struggled home - it was pretty shocking on the last stretch, battling up hill into a head wind with the beginnings of a fever. I was out like a light before 9pm, utterly spent.
And that's part of the problem with relying on a bicycle for transport - you need to power it. If the power plant is feeling a bit icky, you're going nowhere. There is a good reason why most of us own and drive cars.
Riding a bike does have its consolations though.
The views are pretty smashing.
And it can be very social.
Plus it beats the hell out of the bus. I took a bus into town yesterday to pick up a few things that were too large to carry home on the bike (plus I was well and truly rooted). Going in was fine. Coming back was a disaster.
I was shopping near the office, and I know that I need to leave the office at least 12 minutes before the bus arrives in order to make it in time. I gave myself 15 minutes.
And then I stood around at the bus stop for 20 minutes, waiting for my bus. For some reason, the timetable goes to custard in the afternoon. In the end, I said "sod it" and hopped on a bus that went most of the way home. It meant a 20 minute walk once I jumped off, but I can live with that on a fine day.
Of course as soon as I got off that bus, I spotted the bus that I wanted to be on across the road - it had caught up behind us, and because of where it turns, I had to cross a busy road to catch it. Which I failed to do. That wasn't too bad - due to traffic, I walked alongside it for about half a kilometre as it crawled towards home.
Door to door by bike is 40-45 minutes. I can shave it down to nearly 35 if I take the short route - I always do a few sections I don't actually need to ride in order to give myself more exercise. Yes, I have to change clothes at the end and have a shower, but if you're going to work, you have to do that anyway. You either shower and get on the bus, or get on the bike and have a shower. Unless you are a stinky weirdo. Or English.
Here's how the bus compares:
- 15 minute walk from office (without lights and idiot dawdling pedestrians, I could do it in less than 6 minutes)
- 25 minutes on the bus - outside of peak hour. It can be 40-60 during the peak.
- 6 minute walk home
Time wise, the bus and bike are about the same.
If you assume reliability, you've got rocks in your head. The trip home yesterday took me 75 minutes, and that has happened often enough in the past to make me stick to the bike. It's blown out to 90 and even 120 minutes on really bad occasions. I can walk the entire distance in less time than that (assuming comfortable shoes). Even if I get a flat tyre, or two flat tyres, the worst I can expect on the bike is 60 minutes. It gives me freedom and reliability. Plus a bit of exercise. What's not to like about that?