Saturday, April 17, 2010

Have bike and camera will travel

The only real issue I have with riding my mountain bike to work, is that I live roughly hereish:

Since that picture was taken somewhere near where I work, I'm sure you can all realise the con when it comes to negotiating the journey on a vehicle powered solely by me (as well as marvelling at my ability to free draw arrows in microsoft paint).

The average gradient to get there is something like this, for about a kilometre and a half.

I've had a couple of people say how impressed they are that I do this, but it really isn't that terrible once you have done it a few times. It doesn't get easy, but it does get less difficult. I have noticed I am getting better at it in that the willpower element is now focused on being bothered to ride in the the first place, rather than keeping going. Another measure of fitness on this is I don't notice the climb so much anymore. I have the energy to think about things over than 'just keep pedalling', and my legs aren't so rubbery when I dismount.

I had a play last week with using the video mode on our little point and shoot camera while cycling to and from work. While it's not exactly C'etait un Rendevous, I like the results anyway.

Reading around various traps inspired little confidence in blogger's video hosting abilities, so I herded a couple of clips on to Youtube instead. These were made with a camera held against the handlebar, so the image stability isn't so great.

The first is going through the poky little subway that takes you under the main highway at the bottom of the hill. It's a cheap thrill, but I like the rush of riding through such an enclosed space. Feel free to make any Star Wars/Dambusters/633 Squadron comparisons you feel appropriate:

The second is the full 2 minute downhill from the crest of the road below my place. If I ride, this is how my commute begins, which is good for waking you up if nothing else. I live in a dip on the ridge, so perversely I have to go uphill before I can go down. I pedal to the crest, then let gravity take over and coast (the bike can't be pedalled faster than 35kph or so anyway. not enough gears). The first 15 seconds or so are a bit shaky as I figure out how I am holding the camera but bear with it (the shakiness halfway through is due to the rough road surface at that section. I love front fork suspension). I have the brakes on for most of the way, from about the first bus stop at 00:27, to stay at the 50kph speed limit, which makes for very hot discs at the bottom. I followed another cyclist with rim brakes down once and all I could smell was burning rubber. I could easily go faster, but since it is both illegal and terrifying, I don't. An off at 50 kph will be bad enough, although overtaking cars would be fun. Rain, early morning flying insects, or ice, particularly on the long corner near the bottom which doesn't see any sun in winter can make this descent muuuchhh more interesting.

I quite like the bit where my shadow stretches out on the road in front of me :)

I could add some clips of the ascent, but it takes ten times as long (literally), and is accompanied by liberal amounts of 0900 line style heavy breathing.

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