Monday, September 01, 2003

The best is yet to be

About 21 years ago, towards the end of my research studentship, I decided to take off on my bike for an afternoon, and cycled from Cambridge, out along the Cherry Hinton road, and kept going, through Fulbourn, over the A11, and then decided that was far enough and I'd take the next turning to loop back. That was at Balsham, and the loop back to Linton brought me back on what was the A604. I remember noting how the rough paving (~20mm gravel, standing proud of the asphalt, to give good grip for tyres) sapped energy from my pedalling as I climbed out of Linton, and how I was desperately tired when I surmounted the Gogs and finally saw Cambridge laid out before me once again.

The other Friday, celebrating getting my top gear back (my bike was in for service/repair as top gear had become less and less reliable until I couldn't put any sort of force on it - plus getting a back carrier and mudguards with some decent clearance put on), I set out from town, through Cherry Hinton, up to Teversham, then Fulbourn, then up through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom, and thence down through Balsham to Linton. Feeling good, I carried on past down to Little Walden (with a stop for beer), to Saffron Walden (a sandwich break), then back through Littlebury, Barley and Fowlmere.

Sure the bike is better than the old one, yclept Death Trap, but the legs are that much older.

In similar vein, last Thursday, cycling home from town, I spotted another, and I think younger, cyclist ahead of me, halfway between me and the start of the junction crossing the M11, whom I passed at the junction (so he can only have been doing half the speed I was at our respective natural paces), and continued up the slope without bothering to change down for such a slight incline. With a massive rattling of gears, he stormed past me near the top, only to fall behind shortly thereafter. As we both turned off the main road, he passed me, but then slowed down so that carrying on at my steady pace, I overtook again. He then sat for a while where I could see him in my mirror, positioned to try and overtake; but eventually he gave up and fell behind, which gave me a little - albeit childish - pleasure at having broken his challenge.

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