Paul Makepeace ;-)

September 30, 2004

The hard bit about cycling

Posted in: Drivel

As part of a six week coding contract with these fine gents I'm commuting from south west London to east central. This takes about 70mins assisted by public transport and slightly under 40mins when I ride. For the first time in a while I really didn't want to cycle this morning, it felt like a drag, and how much I'd rather just sit in a train reading a book. Odd, I thought, it's not that far (15km), what's the problem?

Then it dawned on me...'s not the physical effort involved, it's the mental effort. Cycling in London during commute periods is hard because the brain has to be constantly running recognition for dangerous traffic patterns amongst the short mini-movies of vehicle, driver, pedestrian, lights sequences and interactions. A stock trader on the exchange floor monitoring market shifts while fielding buys and sells yelled from every direction, a ceaseless unrelenting cacophony of neural activity.

Riding at home typically late at night there's very little of that. The jaunt back usually consists of a brutal but purely physiological pounding along the Embankment, flat-out intervals of muscular acidosis; cerebral activity more akin to the late-night security guard occasionally scanning the infrequently changing cameras, sipping coffee and reading comics.

Which all just makes me conclude I should really be working at home ;-)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at September 30, 2004 13:50 | TrackBack

"cerebral activity more akin to the late-night security guard occasionally scanning the infrequently changing cameras, sipping coffee and reading comics."

This is of course the time of evening when some complete tit will pull a U-turn straight into your face, because there's not much traffic. If you're dozing along in a blissful state of low-processing requirements, you might end up getting a nasty shock. Although the odds of something trying to kill you are obviously lower, the odds of you noticing in time drop too - it's a tricky balance to get right, useful paranoia vs. mental exhaustion.

I've ridden a motorbike through London quite a lot now, at various times of day (including evening rush hour, but not morning), and although I found it less stressful than I was initially expecting, it was definitely unpleasant. I wouldn't do it every day, that's for certain.

Posted by: Denny at September 30, 2004 14:53

Man, that's so bizarre. I actually very rarely get in close scrapes but had two today. One where I rode across a yellow box and a driver pulled a right across me. Proper close.

On the way home, more or less the exact scenario you describe Denny - a taxi turning round left again across a yellow box.

I got on a train at Vauxhall shortly after that. Just seemed safer at that point ;-)

Posted by: Paul Makepeace at October 1, 2004 00:44

That's 13km/h on public transport. Holy crap.

Posted by: Jez at October 6, 2004 00:26

Jez: in fairness, the time is including walking from home -> station and station -> work (20mins total), and then you have waiting at platforms, changes (which may require quite a walk inside the station), and sundry minor delays. It was about 60mins door to door today. Still, way too long for me.

That walking will be eliminated soon when my Strida arrives! ( Woot!!

Posted by: Paul M at October 6, 2004 00:42
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