Thursday, February 23, 2017

bike to work

There are three ways of getting to work by bike.  By far the easiest is in the valley, vaguely following a busy road but mainly on bike paths. In violation of one of the fundamental laws of cycling, the wind always blows from behind.  Last summer, when I had reached a modicum of shape, I managed to do the round trip, all of 31 kilometers, in just under an hour.

The second way of getting to work involves such a sustained climb right at the outset that I've only ever done it the other way. It's a way of getting home from work, and a very good one.  A gently rising road opens increasingly impressive vistas of the Alps when the weather is good.  At the end, there's a hilarious descent into town where I was once almost taken out by a bus.

The third way is by far the hardest.  Going to work across Heitersberg involves a two-kilometer climb that averages close to 10%.  This is quite literally a steep challenge on an empty stomach.  It trims the commute by 3 kilometers, but I don't consider it a short cut.  The ride will inevitably take longer.  Going back is easier, but you need to have the legs for it.

Today I rode across Heitersberg for the first time since my two crashes there last year.  The road is narrow and steep, there are some 90-degree turns without much warning, and one morning a turn was soiled with wet grass.  You get the picture.  It's not a pretty one.

I now have a new bicycle, nearly identical to the old one, which languishes in the basement as a pile of spares.  The steer tube of the fork was ripped in two when I hit a curb sliding fast but rather comfortably on a pad of wet grass.  The rest, including my body, survived the crash almost unharmed.

This is only a dim memory now.  Slightly more recent but fading fast is winter.  January was cold.  There was even some snow.  It has all melted, and the ice on the ponds is gone.  While mornings are still a bit too cold for my comfort, I've been riding.  It's the only thing that keeps me moving at the necessary intensity to shape my legs and clear my head.

Today it was warm for the first time, a glorious day with sunshine and clear views in all directions.  I could see the Alps from the office, glowing orange in the evening sun as I packed up for the day.  The valley wouldn't do, I thought, as I hopped on my bike.  I rode along the hills and then up towards Heitersberg.  This being the easier side, the suffering was manageable.  On the other side, I descended calmly, almost like a responsible person.  Whichever way I take, this is the way to go.

I'm surprised that I shouldn't have used this title in almost twelve years of blogging (if the last three years of rather rare activity still count), but that's what the search says, and who am I to argue with Google on this?