Monday, 23 August 2010

Night cycling

I'm annoyed! But hang on a sec and let me explain from the beginning:
Some time ago I stumbled onto a website, Itsnotarace.org,  that deals with something they termed "silly commuter racing". The principle is simple - when you have two bicycles travelling in the same direction on the same road at the same time then essentially you have a race.

I was silly enough to have thought it was only me, and perhaps a few other deviants who "race" other cyclists. After all, that cyclist that I may have overtaken could have been cycling for 20 miles prior to our paths intersecting, while I might still have been well rested. The point is it really doesn't matter who wins these races as there is absolutely no parity, and that is why it is called silly commuter racing.

As you will learn from that site, it is a a complex thing, with formulae to calculate your own place in the pecking order. I won't bore you with the details, as long as you realise that the more of a proper "roadie" you are as a cyclist the more you should be overtaking other bikes. Remember, while infinitely better off-road, a full suspension mountain bike with knobbly tyres can never be half as fast as a carbon-framed slick road racer.

MAMIL
As you may know from previous posts, I ride a hybrid. I suppose it slots somewhere midway between a road racer and a mountain bike.Normally I cannot catch roadies, except MAMIL's that think cycling is simply a matter of throwing enough money at a problem. You know the type: overweight, unfit and squeezed into lycra before mounting £5000 bikes and cycling slowly. And yes, I'm quite aware how petty I am every time I grin when overtaking one of them!

But I digress - I'm annoyed because of what happened during my nightly bike ride. All went well, down the cycle path to Plym Bridge, then along Plym Bridge road to the junction by Asda, before returning via Marsh Mills and Embankment road.
I use GPSed.com often when cycling at night as it gives my wife the opportunity to see where I am on a Google map that auto-updates every 3 minutes. She has peace of mind knowing I'm not lying in a ditch somewhere, and I have a record of my ride.

During tonight's ride, while passing behind PC World, GPSed displayed an error message, which meant I had to stop to fix it quickly. It was while I was stopped that he came sailing by: a roadie! A proper roadie and NOT a MAMIL.
Of course my fragile male ego couldn't accept it, so I gave chase & caught him just before the Novotel. Except he took a short cut through the estate while I went around the Novotel as I didn't realise there was a short cut. We met up again while crossing Plymouth road and I was right on his wheel.

I cut through the Sainsbury's car park while he followed the cycle path around, so that should have placed me well ahead of him. And that is when my cycle computer unclipped itself and rolled onto the road. I had to stop quickly, wait for a gap in traffic to go get it, put it back on and set off again!

On Embankment road I could see him well ahead of me and I gave chase once more. I was slowly catching up and I'm sure I would have caught him if it wasn't for the truck that joined from Old Laira road. As it was going slowly, he was able to tuck right into it's wind shadow and almost got dragged up the bridge, while all I could do was watch him pull away!

All my dreams of victory in a silly commuter race shattered by an unclipped cycle computer! Oh, the injustice!