Cecily’s back from her summer holiday

Summer days have come and gone, and I have woefully neglected to keep this blog updated with Cecily’s adventures. In the 6 weeks or so since I last posted:

– Cecily and I completed the 40km stage of a team triathlon at the London Triathlon, coming home in an entirely respectable 1:32.

– Cecily and I accompanied The Musician and a Boris bike on the London SkyRide, a day on which a number of streets in central London were shut to traffic so that bike riders could zoom about in peace

– I commuted to my base office by bike a few times (I’m at my base office maybe 3 weeks of the year, all spread out)

– I’ve started commuting “long-distance” (8.2 miles each way) again, the first morning back into a 30mph headwind! And I didn’t think about a strong wind from the west making going south over a bridge quite interesting…

– Cecily’s lost a few bits and pieces, and needs a bit of medical attention. I’m hoping that 3G will be helping me out with that on Tuesday.

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Triathlon fundraising

I cycled 16 miles before breakfast today in training for the London Triathlon next weekend in which I am taking part – I’m cycling 40km (25 miles) as part of a team from my department at work. We’re fundraising for Barnardo’s, the children’s charity. If you would like to support us, you can do so here:

http://www.justgiving.com/KPMGLondonTri2011

Unfortunately it’s not a personalised link because my employer is coordinating all the teams and thus there is central fundraising so do let me know on here, on Twitter or by email if you sponsor us!

I think that’s all for now, wish me luck in my exams tomorrow! Fingers crossed (or if you’re German, or claim some bit of German-ness, thumbs pressed!)

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Swans

Dudes and dudettes (there seems to be a dudette-predominance in my readership) – I saw swans this morning on my ride. Yes, that’s right, white (or rather one white, three grey), long-necked, belonging to the Queen, large birds.

I was so shocked by their existence (pigeons, yes. crows, sometimes. non-urban birds???) that I pulled Cecily over and took a few photos with the trusty iTelephonicDevice, but somehow it didn’t quite work out because of the app I was using to track my ride not really talking very nicely with the photo library. So no picture of my swans, sadly.

If I see them again tomorrow, I’ll take a proper photo.

Anyone seen any unexpected wildlife recently?

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Virginia

Triathlon update: I ended up cycling 25 miles yesterday – which is my triathlon distance. So I’m pretty pleased to have done that all in one day and now the trick will be to do it all in one go. I’m hoping that Wanstead Flats will turn out to be the perfect training ground and that I can simply do laps of it until I’ve hit 40km, and then go home.

Now I have a vicious cold which is being crafty and hiding from my nose so I don’t actually look ill. I have had about 3 hours’ sleep, it hurts to swallow and I’m in a foul mood about it all. This may or may not be related to 25 miles’ cycling yesterday.

Speaking of which, on my way home, I cycled over Tower Bridge. The tarmac must have been laid 100 years ago because it’s all wibbly at the edge (primitive bike lane segregation?), and there is a non-trivial incline as one approaches from the south, and a crazy one-way system to the north, but WOW. The view is just amazing.

But the point of this post was to record the fact that Cecily and I have now racked up 579 miles, (no punctures or falls yet!) and that is equivalent to cycling across Virginia on the Trans American trail.

I use Tools To Keep You Active to track my cycling and while I haven’t worked out how to share my achievements recorded there on the blog, I have copied across my little map:

I’m rather impressed with myself.

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Segregated cycle lanes

I’ve started happening across these on minor roads in London – so far I have found Tavistock Road in Bloomsbury with a bizarre bi-directional cycle lane, segregated from bi-directional traffic, with a weird little wiggle at the end to feed the westbound cycles in, and Howland St, near Goodge St Tube station. There must be more around London – do let me know if you know any!

I love them – suddenly I feel like the road was made just for me! I can hold my own on the major London roads (although I’m still terrified of Hyde Park Corner – in my car or on the bike!) but these little protective lanes are just wonderful. They’ve put down a segregated bit on the A11/A12 roundabout at Bow, and it makes me smile every time I see it. Like the Barclays Cycle Superhighways, it’s reassuring that someone spent money on cyclists. Gives a certain validation.

Bit of a downside – like cycling on the towpath beside the Regents Canal, where I am spending a lot of time at the moment, shuttling back and forth between Angel and Mile End, it is difficult to overtake a slow cyclist where the cycle lane is segregated.

A small price to pay to get away from the white van men!

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Triathlon eeeeek

My employer (which is a large accountancy firm) has encouraged its employees to enter the London Triathlon, either individually or as teams, and I was initially sorely tempted to join a team (cycling – running and swimming are Not My Thing) but noticing that the date is a few days after my final accountancy qualification exams, bit my tongue. My year group from my department got a team together and I heard no more.

Until today, when a plea went out to replace a cyclist who has to attend his girlfriend’s step-sister’s wedding (against his will…) and I’m a sucker for a personal appeal from a friend. One of my good work friends is the swimmer and I know the runner, so I ummed and ahhed about it, mentioned it to my manager, who promptly said “Go for it, I’ll come and cheer you” (her fiancé is doing the individual event), and that was about as much as it took to persuade me (have you noticed I’m very suggestible? I mentioned it on today’s book review!).

So I am now signed up, irretrievably, to do the 40km leg of a proper length triathlon, having not taken part in a race of any sort since high school mandatory cross-country. Eeeeek! I’m very excited but quite scared, and looking for a bit of inspiration, training suggestions and motivation! And I’ll be posting here with the sponsorship link in good time.

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Cycling in the rain

On Thursday morning I set off in my recently re-discovered Oxford University Women’s Cricket Club 2007 match shirt on my morning cycle. While rain was forecast, the sky was overcast but bright and I was confident there would only be a few sprinkles.

Sprinkling started 2 miles into the 8 mile journey. By this point I was already quite hot and bothered, having already battled with the 25 bus down a chunk of the A11 and been frustrated by Tower Hamlets’ love-hate relationship with cyclists (more on that topic some other time), and I thought it would stop soon enough (it often does) so I wouldn’t bother to pull Cecily over, undo the pannier straps, get the fluorojacket on and get going again…

I regretted that about 30 second later when the heavens punished me for my confidence and opened over my head. By the time I got to the Liverpool St/Bank area, I’m sure my white cricket shirt was translucent and I was soaked to the skin. Even at this point it would have been a good idea to pull over and put the fluorojacket on. But no, reasoning that once I was soaked, I couldn’t get any more wet, I battled boldly on and discovered the strange City cycling contraflow that is Lombard St. (anyone know this street? any thoughts?)

I got to work (late – rain seems to add a good 20% to my travel time) and was pleased to have the jacket to retain my modesty, riding up in the lift with all the impeccably dressed staff in their natty suits, carrying bespoke umbrellas…

Waking up Friday morning, I heard the weather forecast. I looked outside. I sneezed a lot (seriously, a lot). And yet I saddled up Cecily anyway and off we went. It duly rained this afternoon, copiously, as predicted. Enough to give me pruney hands from having wet hands and holding wet handlebars. This time I was smart enough to wear my jacket.

But (whisper it softly) – it was fun! Alison Cohen, the brains behind Boston’s bike sharing scheme, said it all:

“I’ve always viewed urban biking a sort of like skiing moguls”

Sometimes, around Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and Holborn (particularly Holborn Circus), it feels just like skiing moguls: hold on tight and just keep going fast (no, I’m not a skier, does it show?). Somehow, being soaked through and shaking your head at every traffic light to fling off the rain that will otherwise fly back into your eyes when you look behind you, just adds to the ambience.

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