Pre-holiday Cycling News

There’s a few little notes I wanted to make about cycling before I left for Sicily.  Better late than never!

An Almost-Accident

The week before we left for holiday I nearly had a nasty accident.  There’s a bit of my ride to work where I head downhill on a cycle path which then meets the corner of a road (if you’re really interested it’s here on the corner of Affleck Close).  There’s not much traffic on this road and I’m always careful descending the shared cycle-pedestrian path because there are sometimes other pedestrians and cyclists.  But once I’ve hit the road I’m generally pulling away pretty quickly.
On this particular day, a woman in a car was heading towards me (east, if you’re looking at the map), and she decided to turn right (south), seemingly without seeing me.
I don’t want to relate this story just to have a go at the woman – though I should add that I was wearing my long-sleeved, flourescent yellow waterproof jacket, it was morning daylight, and I was QUITE visible thank you very much – no, these things happen.
What was interesting was the reactions.
  1. The woman’s reaction in the car was to stop.  When actually, the best thing she could have done was accelerate away as quickly as possible and get out of my way.
  2. My brain quite quickly made up its mind that I might not stop in time and I was fully prepared, not for a big crash, but to gently tumble into the side of the car.
  3. Fuzzy (my bike, for those not yet in the know), even with brakes really-hard on, refused to be thrown sideways into a skid.  He just wants to keep moving forwards.  I did just about managed to lock up the rear wheel but it’s a LOT of effort.
  4. We did manage to avoid each other – but the womans face said “What are you doing???”.  Indeed.
Yes, accidents happen.  This one, fortunately, did not.  But I was left with a thumping heart and the feeling that, in an emergency, your brain can process a huge amount of information incredibly quickly.
And sometimes that’s a very good thing!
Strains, Chains and Velomobiles

Actually nothing to do with chains, but it sounded good and pedals doesn’t really rhyme with much.
Well, OK, it rhymes with “medals” but that’s about all.
Anyway, during my PB 35 mile ride to Cholsey a few weeks ago I was fighting against an odd pain in the right side of my stomach.
After this ride I had quite persistent niggles with my right hamstring and in my back.
I wasn’t sure if these were related.  I’m still not.  But it did get me doing some thinking about my riding position.
Position is all important on a bike because the repetetive, strenuous motion amplifies any minor problem.
I looked at a few things.
  • Was I pedalling equally with both legs? No.  So let’s do some work on balancing that out.
  • Is my saddle straight?  Yes, and it’s at a good height too.  But I’m not sure I’m sat on it straight.  Maybe I sag to one side a little?  Have to think about my position there too.
  • What about my feet?  Well, my cleats (the clips on the bottom of cycling shoes that clip into “clipless” pedals), weren’t in the same position on both feet – so I’ve adjusted them, and replaced the cleats at the same time.
Will all this make a difference?  It’s hard to say right now as I’ve not done a longer ride for a while.  It will be interesting to see how things are now.
Of course, in the background the stretching and strength work that I don’t do enough of will have to continue too, and as the nights draw in perhaps I’ll get more opportunity to do that.  Then, come next spring, I’ll be REALLY fit and ready to go!