Increase your annual mileage: lap 3

If you’ve bothered to follow the ‘drift’ this far, you’re probably serious about increasing your annual mileage……or merely curious. But one thing you will gather from these musings is that, essentially, you’re not learning anything new. The ingredients of the recipe are well known and well documented, but the quality of the end result can vary enormously, depending on the end-user.

Cycling as a mode of transport

You all have neighbours, friends or work colleagues who can’t go anywhere without jumping into the car. Even if it’s just a few

Image:http://hkcyclingalliance.org/

Image: hkcyclingalliance.org/

hundred metres down the road, to buy a newspaper or get a coffee. The irony is that walking or cycling could be as quick, or even quicker, and certainly better for the environment and for their health.

Now, don’t get me wrong…..I am not ‘anti-car’. I am both a cyclist and car driver but, over the years, I have come to regard the car as a last resort for doing shorter journeys. This has included both my short commute to work (many of my pupils thought I didn’t own a car) and longer journeys to outlying towns to do errands……even towns as far as 30 miles away.

The astonishing thing I’ve found is this: taking the car does not save you a huge amount of time, or even any time at all (as you might expect). Let me give you an example.

If I have a few errands to do in Cambridge (30 miles away), I can leave home at 9am (after the rush hour), spend an hour or so doing the errands in Cambridge, and be back home by 2-3pm. Having the bike in Cambridge allows me to get around quickly, I have no parking issues, I don’t get held up in traffic, and my route there and back is along quiet country lanes.

cut-the-mustardFor more local towns, the time-saving can be even greater. When you drive, never underestimate the time spent in traffic queues, at traffic lights, parking up and then walking to all the places you need to get to. Park & Ride is even more time-consuming, when you add in the time spent waiting for buses at both ends, and the laborious journey through the town’s suburbs.

For many roadies, riding the bike is no more than a sport, unfortunately. Something they do at weekends with their club mates, or at the mid-week time trial or ‘chain-gang’ or, even more sporadically, at racing venues or mass events like sportives or audaxes. The annual mileage seeker must go beyond that…..they must see their bikes as an essential form of transport.

When you are doing more bike-miles than car-miles in the year, you are just beginning to ‘cut the mustard’.

 

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on November 4, 2014, in Increase your annual mileage and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. No chance of me cutting the mustard as we make regular car trips to Canberra and Melbourne.

  2. In my new job the company has two sites ca. 1.5 miles apart. I raise eyebrows by riding between them. But just as you have found this is quicker. I ride to work so have no car, so I have go and hunt for a pool / work car to borrow before I make the trip. In this time I could have peddled there – so unless it is throwing it down with rain, that’s just what I do. And for all these small journeys the environmental impact is a key issue for me. A car is least fuel efficient and the catalyst less effective over the first 1-2 miles – so mile per mile you are emitting more CO2 and NOx for shorter trips than long ones. Why not just jump on the bike. I do!

    • You are so right……I had a colleague who would drive across the school campus (all of 400 metres) to go to the dining room. Needless to say, he was unfit and overweight……

  3. Most of my life, cycling has been my main means of local transport – both when I lived in Edinburgh and now that I’ve moved down to St Ives near Cambridge. So your arguments make perfect sense to me.

    I’ve only ever done two big, long-distance cycle journeys, the first when I was 17 and cycled with my brother (aged 11) from the Scottish Borders to Cromer (not sure how our mother let us do it – there were no mobile phones in those days). We hadn’t much idea about cycle repairs, and had never cycled in city traffic e.g. York, or on a busy main road e.g. crossing the Trent west of Scunthorpe (there was no motorway in 1969). My second big trip was earlier this year, 2000km from St Ives to Santiago de Compostela, which which time I had reached the age of 62 and had picked up a lot more experience of busy roads, bicycle maintenance, and such like.

    So, for me, in and out of Cambridge, and round about St Ives provides the bulk of my regular cycling. Despite being ‘retired’, I rarely seem to have time to just go off on the bike for a run, though it did manage training runs while pre-Compostela. As regards the Cambridge journeys, the guided bus is quicker, but not by much. And certainly the drive/park&ride option would be slower.

    Several of my friends have expressed surprise that I can cycle to Cambridge in an hour or so without ending up in a pool of sweat. and this set me thinking about what it is that stops people cycling more, and especially cycling these longer, local trips.

    Here are a few reasons that occurred to me – fear of cycling in traffic, not enough cycle lanes, stamina, keeping dry in wet weather or warm in cold weather, not wanting to cycle in the dark, not wanting to cycle in smart clothes, workplaces that have no shower facilities, not knowing how to fix a puncture en route, having too much shopping or other luggage to carry on a bike….

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    • You are absolutely right, Andrew. Many people will have nebulous, even nameless, concerns about riding their bikes longer distances. And, of course, there are several practicalities (as you mention) to take into account when commuting.
      Having done the Camino de Santiago, have you ever considered the Via Francigena (Canterbury to Rome). From your home, the distance will be almost identical to the route to Santiago…..which I find quite curious.

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