Thursday 23 October 2008

Age - I can feel it in my commuting !

There are lots of things around that are indicators of your advancing years - a few more lines on your face, getting more interested in classical music, favouring the practical over the fashionable, wanting to get home by 11pm on a Friday, needing glasses, forgetting where you put your glasses, etc etc.

I have found that my commute into work is as big a sign as any that shock horror, I'm getting old(er) !

When I first started commuting to work by bicycle in 2001, I was working at Marylebone. I had an 11 mile commute and could do it in 50 minutes. I had the same bike then as I do now - a heavy Ridgeback hybrid.
Also at that time I could fly up the 10% gradient of Anerley Hill on the 42 chainring first thing in the morning.

Nowadays I work at Westminster, 9 miles away, but it still takes me 50 minutes. In fact, when I go up Anerley Hill I rarely use the 42 chainring. The granny 32 ring is my gear of choice. I just don't feel I can attack any hill, first thing in the morning. Even the slight rise going over Lambeth Bridge becomes a slog !!

There's no getting away from it, I'm getting old. Just the other day I cursed the fact that I had left my wooley bonnet at home when I was riding in. It seemed like a more palatable solution to battling against the cold than riding my bike faster !
I spent the rest of the day at work trying to keep warm.

Having said all that, the age thing is not just about ability. It's also about my changing attitude. In those days my commute to work was treated as a (twice) daily time trial. I would try and get a pb each week. I didn't want anyone to overtake me -not even the flash harries on their Canondales. I was always up for a race, and I would even jump the red lights.

Nowadays I am much more sensible. I adhere firmly to the Highway Code, I dress appropriately, and most importantly for me it's about getting to my destination rather than beating the clock or anyone else.

Admittedly, I do alot more cycling outside of commuting nowadays than I used to. In fact, sometimes I see my commute as a good respite from the whole training/racing/training mill. Commuting should be enjoyed and when you get to work you should feel ready for work, not feeling like you need to lie down and stretch off your legs. Uh oh, these sounds like the words of an old CTC friend of mine who was of a certain age.

OK, so I admit it - I commute to work slower than I used to, and nowadays I am more of a sturdy mare than a dynamic filly. But hey, I'm allowed to. I'm the wrong side of thirty and I have a landmark birthday coming up so I've got my excuse.
I don't mind how the cycling goes as long as I'm allowed to age gracefully !

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