It is fair to say that concerns over personal fitness and cost efficiencies have not been at the fore-front of my mind when considering work related travel and lunch arrangements for the past couple of years. Instead the focus has been on revenue generation and ensuring that everything is in place for me to perform at my best, taking most time-efficient method to commute to the office, eating lunch at the most convenient locations (with little regard for unnecessary costs for transport, parking, lunch expenses or the accumulating daily costs for trips to the nearest coffee-bar for treats)
Well that’s all changed in the past 6 weeks as I’ve booked a ski trip with another Dad (who must at least 10 years younger than me) and our two young sons who play for our local football team and are super fit. I will be the oldest and most out-of condition of the ski party. I need to get fitter
My fitness campaign began by getting into the routine of walking the 1.6 miles each way from Waterloo to the office. I dug my old Falcon bicycle out from storage last month to get it operational for the the commute to Guildford Train Station. I started cycling the 1.3 mile journey between home and station this month, down-hill in the morning, back up in the evening.
Not only have I been improving my personal fitness, I’m saving me £4 per day on the underground and £8 per day on parking.
I’ve been totally enjoying the walk between Waterloo station to the office on Lower Thames Street. Google reckons 32 minutes, I usually do it in 25, pacing to work at a brisk pace and even quicker when I’m heading home (to get a seat on the target train). I’m getting to know that part of London far better than I ever did before. Lambeth and Borough have come to mean so much more to me now and the views from London Bridge are magnificent.
My Falcon bike is a classic, stripped-down 10 speed, drop handle-bar racer with the gear shifts mounted on the frame. I bought the bike in the 90’s when I worked at Oracle to join a team of fitness dudes who were competing in an inter-company charity triathlon relay race. I haven’t used it since, so the bike has probably only done about 600 miles or so. I put it in for a service, had a couple of nice shiny mudguards fitted and the old toe-clips replaced by foot-strap pedals that would accommodate normal trainers.
I have so000 enjoyed my trips down the hill to the train station on the Falcon in the morning. Returning back up the hill in the evening is a bit more of a challenge and has made me realise how bike design has improved over the past 20 years, as the Falcon has no-where near the hill-climbing capability of an every-day mountain bike these days. Even so, heading back from work in the evening and attacking the climb to our house is an immensely satisfying way of getting home from the station.
Friday evening, after the terrorist incident on London Bridge, most people in our office were heading home early as our locality in London was in lock-down and local tube stations were closed. I left the office soon after 4:30 and hired a Santander bike. Taking a circuitous route around the financial sector, I made my way to Waterloo Station in time for around 5pm and caught the 17:15 to Guildford.
It was a good service back from London and within 40 minutes I was un-locking the Falcon, ready for the cycle ride up the hill and home. A few minutes later and I am cycling along Guildford Park Road at about 20mph, matching the speed of the car in front and the car behind. I am cruising past a junction on the left and mindful of a car at the give-way on the left that might pull out in front of me when BANG … out of no-where, a car crashed into the side of my bike as it attempted to cross the oncoming line of traffic (from the opposite side of the road) evidently without seeing me!
I can clearly remember seeing the incoming bonnet in my peripheral vision a fraction of a second before the impact and feeling the front of the car fold under my body. There was no time for me to break or change direction, both of which would have been futile. I don’t remember how I separated from the bike or how my feet came out of the foot-straps. I can remember going over the side of bonnet and impacting the road, then lots of people around me and being told to stay where I was and not get up. I tried moving each of my limbs very carefully and moving my torso and judged that it was worth attempting to stand. With a bit of help I got to my feet and miraculously nothing was broken, so we stood the ambulance down that had been called. The police arrived and took statements and one of the witnesses kindly gave me a lift home.
Harry is the nickname of the proprietor of the hairdressers on junction where it all happened. Harry had heard the bang and came running out ‘fearing the worst’ as he put it. He offered to put my bent and broken bike in his garage so I could collect it the next day.
I tucked into a few whiskeys when I returned home, which may have been effective in numbing down some of the pain and shock but not sufficient to send me to sleep as I had a very disturbed night. I kept going through the whole experience, again and again, in my mind, remembering a bit more of the incident each time.
Today (being Monday, 2nd Dec) everything still hurts. It feels as if I’ve been hit by a bus rather than a car, so have only worked a half day. I’ve booked an appointment with the Doctor which I expect may lead to a trip to the x-ray department. I can see this is going to put my fitness campaign on temporary hold. The older I get, the longer it seems to take me to recover from injury. Been thinking ….. I am so lucky I went over the top of the bonnet and not under the car. So lucky I didn’t break a leg between the car and my bike. So lucky I didn’t break anything when landed on the road. Yep, I consider myself lucky.
Sadly I don’t have a picture of the Falcon in it’s full glory … I was planning to take some shots of it this weekend and now it’s in a bit of a mess. I kind of hope it’s repairable, but not looking forward to getting back on it at the moment.
To do: Research and analysis on the actual statistical evidence of: Improvement to fitness and well-being vs risk of injury or death through cycling to work.