Paul Makepeace ;-)

October 26, 2004

Chasing Victoria

Posted in: Sport

The first time I realized I could keep up with an undelayed Tube on my bike over a substantial distance (>10km / ten stops) was quite a shock. The Tube's top speed is 80km/h so at least when it's rolling it's not hanging around. In contrast the very best I can manage is about 36km/h for any distance.

Last night I took on what I consider one of the toughest Tube challenges: keeping up with the Victoria Line.

The Victoria Line has a reputation for being quite a fast train, zipping up from Brixton to Walthamstow at quite a pace. I don't know if it actually is faster but certainly it feels fast.

I departed Brixton station on my fixed gear bike as a friend descended into the station. Her waiting at the platform for a couple of minutes was matched by my circling the Brixton Square loop before heading the right way up the A23 (I have had, for about seven years 'til last night, the north/south directions in Brixton inverted; quite a shock unscrambling that!)

Re-oriented correctly, I didn't hang around, pushing myself pretty hard and "catching a bus" whenever I could. This hairy manoeuvre is a great way to cover some distance: accelerate hard as the bus pulls off and pedal into its slipstream. An adrenaline rush and a kilowatt energy burst later and a cyclist can be rolling behind it at 50+km/h (comfortably 15km/h over what I'd be doing without the windbreak). Watch those brake lights...

After several hard intervals the climb up City Rd finished me off and I more or less coasted down Pentonville Rd. For the first time ever I didn't want to stop at the £1 7" pizza place, my system was so thrashed. As I rolled up onto the pavement at the front of King's Cross I'd been beaten by only seconds. Woohoo!

It's pretty cool, having put the work in with exercise, diet, and a bit of self-discipline being able to match or beat about every mode of transport in zone 4 in London. The only vehicle faster is a motorbike when there's not so much traffic (the rest of the time their width gets them snarled in traffic). Or a fitter cyclist :-)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at October 26, 2004 20:19 | TrackBack
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