Considering it was the first full year cycling since my knee replacement, 2016 turned out to be surprisingly successful on the bike. OK I was unable to tour but I was back on the road and even managed some rides in France from centrally based campsites. The result was a surprising 1,600 miles over the 12-month period. In stark contrast my cycling regressed significantly in 2017 as my other (right) knee has now deteriorated and the TKR joint has also been playing up from time-to-time. I don’t need to look at the bike computers to know that the mileage is low, very low – not much more than 300 miles in fact, ouch! It’s already clear that cycling in the future will probably continue to be difficult, although there is a ray of light on the horizon.
I have now been living with knee problems for some years and frequently toyed with the idea of going electric but never really liked what I saw. However, as the aforementioned problems have escalated I finally bit the bullet and in August converted my Trek 830 MTB to front wheel electric power assistance. It is early days but the experience of the electric bike conversion has so far been excellent; it works well, is particularly helpful on hills, has a range of +50 miles and most of all gets me back on the road and is great fun to use. Only recently I managed a few longer, very enjoyable rides and it seems that this may have to be the shape of my cycling future, we shall see.
Despite these personal problems, during 2017 the world of cycling in the UK seemed to go from strength to strength and on one occasion this year I even managed to join the wannabe racers on Box Hill. However, cycling still seems to sit uncomfortably within modern society and the question seems to be – can you have too much of a good thing? To my dismay I’m thinking the answer for now might be yes.
The masses of cyclists that now roam across this part of England are becoming something of a problem and there are signs that the tolerance of motorists and residents is wearing thin. Ironically some of the worst culprits seem to be cycle clubs, who in peloton formation of up to 100 metres or more long and two or more abreast, speed around the roads and lanes with little if any consideration for anybody else, including other cyclists! As cyclists we all know about the lack of consideration and aggressive attitude and actions of motorists and even pedestrians but this does not give cyclists the right to do the same, in fact it is both inconsiderate, dangerous and not good for cycling in general. May I therefore suggest a New Year’s resolution for all – be polite and considerate to all others when cycling. It costs nothing, it almost certainly will benefit everyone and you never know, it might improve the quality of your ride – stranger things have happened!
Even with the set-backs I did manage to revisit some of my old rides in 2017. Given cycling limitations over the past three years, it’s been especially rewarding and enjoyable to go back to familiar rides, thereby seeing places and scenery with new eyes. Furthermore, with the recent addition of electric assistance I have been able to reinvent old routes. To my surprise the result has led to a rejuvenation of some local rides, which if I’m honest had become somewhat mundane and inevitably repetitive after more than 20-years on the same roads. Hopefully, this positive development will continue into the New Year – less is more?
During the year I continued to document some of these and other favourite rides in this part of England. I was particularly pleased to see the reconstruction of Flanchford Bridge eventually completed after 9-months in early March, as it plays a critical role in many of my rides and therefore caused significant problems during its period of closure. I’ve also continued to discuss specific features of cycling in Life-on-a-Bike (LOAB), as well as tents and YHA accommodation. I particularly enjoyed writing Cycling Rocks, which had been in the back of my mind for a while and discusses what and where the materials come from that make up a bicycle.
Once again I’m pleased to see there is a keen interest in these and older Round The Bend blogs. Up until the end of November the site had attracted more than 4,500 visits from far-and-wide in 2017. Please do get in touch if you have any relevant thoughts, queries or just to say – hello.
I’m writing Round-Up early this year as I’m going to be busy for a while and don’t expect to be cycling at all over the coming weeks. I will therefore also be taking a short break from writing Round The Bend. Notwithstanding, I plan to be back as soon as possible in the New Year, which I hope will turn out to be a better cycling year than 2017.