Monday, 9 March 2009

The daily commute

Right slog to get into work today with a 20 mph headwind all the way. At the moment I mentally gird myself at these times with little things like my "It's all good training for the trip" mantra, although when all is said and done, it isn't really. Still, the commute is one of the things I'll miss most from the job. It's great to be able to breeze through the Cheshire countryside, getting some time in taking exercise in nature rather than some gym. And the endorphin hit after a good hard ride (missus) is the best drug ever. An hour of ear to ear grin and buzz like you wouldn't believe. Roll on six months of cycling to India, I'll be high as a bleedin' kite.

Obviously over the years I've built up a few basic routes for the commute, from the short 12 mile over Irlam Locks done in bad weather or on dark winters nights to the roadie route via Culcheth which is around the 19 mile mark (record time 58:30 minutes) and the "Sod it, I'm going the long way home" route via Cheshire and Manchester Airport which is anything up to forty miles. OK, so that last is a very occasional one that was only done in summer when I was in the right mood. Fun though (note to self: must do it one more time in the next three weeks).

The core route, though, has got to be down through Chorlton Ees, Sale and via the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT). The TPT is beautiful in summer, bowling along at 7 am, scaring the rabbits that are out feeding, generally just really enjoying life. Alas for many years it was impassable after rain due the poor surface quality although just recently they've resurfaced it and it's now excellent in all conditions. The TPT was followed by going over Manchester Ship Canal at Warburton Toll Bridge. Ah, now that brings back a lot of memories!

You see, the toll booth at the bottom of the bridge acted as a pinch point. During rush hour you get a load of traffic that has just come over the bridge backed up waiting to pay. This constricts the road so that there isn't room to pass a cyclist going up and over the bridge. Isn't room unless, of course, you're a fucking loon with no respect for anyone else. Funnily enough there are quite a few of those about. Note to drivers: if you come up behind me and blare your horn to get me out of the way I will go slower... I can take that bridge at 22 mph at the start and still be doing 18 mph when I go over the summit. Or I can take it at 12mph to start and still be doing 5 mph over the summit. Your call. And if you do want to squeeze by me remember there are lights at the other end. And you'd be amazed at how much adrenalin I've generated after cycling for 12 miles. I will stop and "discuss" your driving with you. At the very least I'll let you know my evaluation of your road skills by using hand signs, generally either a 0 or 1, waved vigorously. Back when I had a mirror fitted I smacked a couple of car windows with my open hand as they passed, scarring the living bejebus out of the drivers. That was fun. Warbie toll bridge is also where I spent a very grim half hour of my life trying to give CPR to a dying biker whose ribcage was mostly shattered into 1 inch fragments. That wasn't fun.

On the mishaps front there have been the usual spills, scrapes and damage done with plenty of corn beef hash bruising, the occasional broken rib but nothing serious. This winter has been a git for it, three black ice tumbles in a month, the last writing off my bike frame. Not a happy bunny. Oh, and I got snowballed by some school kids this year. Not really a problem unless it's on a main road during a snowy rush hour right in the face at a range of two or three meters. Which is dangerous. And the reason why I set off chasing after the pair of little fuckers. They split up, obviously, so I selected the slowest one who ended up getting away by scampering over a six foot garden. Probably just as well, they were both bigger than me... wouldn't fancy my chances if had caught them!

Time to set off home now, and luckily that wind has not died down. Of course that's the real joy of the headwind on the way in, the tail wind on the way home :)


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