Half Speed

I had to take my bike in for a service today*. This meant rather an elaborate journey via Papershop village (which is more or less in the complete opposite direction from Bigtown) and the Old Military Road and then back via the bus and a mile-and-a-half walk from Nearest village (this was at least slightly less painful and a lot less expensive than the other half’s experience getting the car serviced where he discovered that round here it’s generally the wives who take cars in to be serviced and thus that he’d be spending the morning perusing women’s magazines while he waited). Sometimes I resent the sheer amount of time it takes to do things without resorting to the car, particularly when it means ten miles into a nippy headwind along my least favourite cycle route, but there were some compensations, for while I was on the  way there I came round a bend and started up a hare along the road in front of me.

I’ll never get over just how big hares are, especially when they hoist themselves up on their long, long legs and set off with their ears up. Nor how effortlessly fast. And this was my chance to find out just how fast, because I had my GPS with me and I decided to give chase and see how quickly it could go. The hare seemed to be in no hurry to get off the road – indeed, the hare didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry full stop – so I got a good run at it. I topped out (hey, it was uphill and into the wind) at 18.7 mph at which point the hare was pulling away without really breaking sweat. And then it kicked it up a little and lost me on the next bend. By the time I’d rounded the corner and sat up it was gone. The internet tells me their top speed is 45 mph, making them Britain’s fastest land animal. Mine, downhill and more or less out of control, is nearer 30. Hares one, cyclists nil.

* actually I had to take my bike in for a service about three months ago, it’s just that I only got round to doing it today. ‘You’ve broken a tooth on one of your rear cogs,’ the bike shop guy said as he looked at it. ‘That actually takes some doing.’ I probably shouldn’t feel like that was some sort of an achievement…

7 Responses to Half Speed

  1. welshcyclist says:

    You were very fortunate to see and chase a hare, I’ve never seen one around the Neath valley, here. In fact, the only time I’ve seen them is at Liverpool airport, on the runways, as my plane was taking off. That was ages ago, though, I suppose they don’t exist there anymore. Using the bike, as you say, has only one drawback, and that is time. The effort and the fresh air, especially in your part of the UK, is good for us, but the time to cycle from A to B, I also begrudge, well at least around town, where you have the added problem of securing the bike. Getting out of the rat race, was the best thing you did, I presume, but it’s other committments that tie us all down, so we shouldn’t blame our slow cycling, I’m smacking my wrist here, as well as yours. Being on a bike is fantastic, with the added bonus of chasing hares. Understand, I’m not picking hairs here.

  2. disgruntled says:

    If I still lived in London, the bike would probably be the quickest option … but round here it’s a time commitment. Fortunately time is one thing I have plenty of.

  3. WOL says:

    We have hares here, too, although we call ours “jack rabbits” –regardless of sex. (No sexual discrimination here!). It amazes me that a predator can catch one on the run. Can you use your rides as “head time?” — time to reflect, ruminate, consider, brainstorm, plan, plot? That might make your time feel more profitably spent. A writer friend uses his “jog time” to think about his writing — and when he gets an idea, he calls himself on his cellphone and leaves himself a voice mail –!

  4. disgruntled says:

    Our hares have the unfortunate habit of sitting tight when threatened which means they’re mainly predated by cars and combine harvesters.

    As to the rides, it’s not that I don’t enjoy them or get good thinking time out of them, it’s that sometimes I just have to get up earlier, or stop doing some other productive thing, because it’s going to take me an hour to go 10 miles instead of 15 minutes in the car.

  5. Andy in Germany says:

    I guess one advantage of never having a car is that we don’t know enough to compare cycling with driving. When I took Youngest Son to the doctor’s last week it took 45 minutes each way which I suspect is longer than by car -but I wouldn’t actually know how to get to the doctors by car anyway.
    On the other hand, when I reached the doctors I was told I’d gone the wrong day, which meant I’d have to do it again. I was pretty bummed about this but then I realised that if I’d decided to spend a couple of hours with Youngest Son, I’d probably have taken him out on the Bakfiets anyway, so it hardly mattered.

  6. Paul says:

    As she get older one of our retired greyhounds has finally worked out that hares are quicker. The younger one probably never will.

  7. disgruntled says:

    Andy – I suppose in some sense bike time is never wasted time…
    Paul – that’s rather bright fora greyhound. Although someone was telling me today about a lurcher that could take both hares and rabbits, so it must have been pretty fast

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