Sunday, 17 October 2010

Encounters on the Windsor road

I was a lapsed cyclist of forty years until I took it up again four years ago. To begin with I just did short local rides, but I gradually explored a wider area and built up a network of interesting routes that avoided the worst hills and the busiest traffic. As I developed my technique and my leg muscles I gradually took on more ambitious rides. Until the accident a couple of weeks ago I was regularly undertaking rides of 60 miles or more, and doing a weekly mileage of 80 or more. I felt confident enough to handle pretty much anything I came across - whether it was a steep hill or busy traffic.

The accident hasn't done any lasting damage, but it has knocked me back a bit. For the last couple of weeks it's been too uncomfortable to ride more than a few miles. I've been very wary of traffic, and avoiding busy roads until I build up confidence again.

As a result I'm rediscovering some of my flatter routes from four years ago. This morning I rode 20 miles: out to Windsor along the Jubilee Channel, and back along the main road. I feel as pleased with myself as I used to in 2006. It was a Sunday, so the traffic was fairly light, but still there were a couple of busy stretches, and I coped as well as I had hoped. Physically, the tender spots are not as sensitive as they were a few days ago. Things are heading in the right direction. And the weather was perfect.

Soon I hope that I'll need to do much longer rides to get the same sense of achievement. Meanwhile, these shorter rides are a real time-saver, and a gentler pace means I have more contact with the world around me. For example:

1) The woman who came rushing along the path towards me. She'd been day-dreaming, and completely forgotten that she had brought her dog with her for a walk - so she was off to find it again
2) A couple on a magnificent tandem. I'm afraid I wasn't much help with the directions they needed, but I admired their bike and the captain offered the usual comment: the only problem was that his stoker didn't do enough of the pedalling. She kept shtum.
3) The following exchange overheard at Boulter's lock: Small boy: "Mummy, how does a lock work?" Mother: "Daddy will explain". Father: "Errm...". And so gender stereotyping passes from one generation to the next
4) A kind motorist who beeped his horn, and waved frantically to point out that there is a dual-use footpath on the road between Windsor and Maidenhead. However, it isn't very wide, and was being used quite heavily by pedestrians, so he wouldn't recommend it, and wanted to encourage me to continue riding on the road. At least I think that was what he was trying to tell me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Sorry to hear about the collision. Get well soon. -rw__