The point of the road bike

Look at this tree!

Magnolia season is just a few days away.

This time last year, I’d been a courier for six months, survived my first winter, and was expecting to reap my rewards as spring rolled towards summer. Instead, I began to regret my job for the first time. Why? Because suddenly all my friends were getting back on their bikes, going for long rides around London in the evenings, and out into the country at the weekend – and I didn’t have the energy to join them!

It’s part of the perpetual love/hate/love/hate dynamic of the job. Yes, you get to cycle all day, and sometimes you can hardly believe your luck. But you only ever get to see a few square miles of central London, between 8am and 6pm. Even riding home late at night becomes a bit of a novelty.

And that’s one of the reasons I bought the Salsa – to give myself an incentive to do different kinds of cycling, and to break myself out of the narrow circle of inner-city fixed-gear sprinting. My background is in touring, and I deliberately chose the Casseroll as a fast yet sturdy bike, that’ll cope with quick dashes up to Cambridge or down to Brighton, but also with the occasional weekend away with a tent, or even something a bit longer…

And it’s working! I’ve had the bike two weekends so far, and both of them have been spent riding out to distant corners of London I’d forgotten existed. The other day Greg and Dean and I went to do some hill training in north London.

Admittedly I have more photos of us sitting in cafes than I do of us climbing hills, but that’s always going to be the case really – I’d need to be a better cyclist than I am to ride one-handed up Highgate West.

Here’s a shot of one of the hills we tackled. (I wonder why they always look less steep in photos?)

If you look carefully, you can see the London skyline in the distance. (I’d even forgotten you get views from hills!) And my new-found enthusiasm (and the Salsa) took me down to south London in the afternoon (where there are more hills), so I saw it from the other side too!

I actually really like going uphill – I think it has something to do with being a control freak (compare this to the fact that I’m a very slow descender). And also, I’ve climbed enough hills in my time to remember that, no matter how much you dread it beforehand, and no matter how much you suffer on the way up, you’ll feel amazing once you get to the top.

Bring on Cornwall!


2 Responses to “The point of the road bike”

  1. redbikes Says:

    Camping touring, long rides to remote places, cafes – I love this stuff!!
    It looks like the new bike was a VERY good choice.

    It is amazing how photographs seem to flattern the landscape out isn’t it. I’m sorry but from that photograph that really doesn’t look like much of a hill.

  2. thatmessengerchick Says:

    My photography project for the next week: to make hills look like hills.

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