Because I can

I was planning to go grocery shopping tomorrow.  It’s not one of my favourite activities and I always like to try and put it off for as long as possible.  However, when I looked out of the window this morning and saw that the day was both sunny and windy, I decided that it would be better to bring my shopping trip forward to today.

This was partly because I prefer going shopping when it’s dry and I had (and still have) no idea whether it will rain tomorrow, so it’s kind of a variation on the old precept of making hay while the sun shines.  It was also because, as I mentioned a while ago, having nice full panniers to act as ballast for the bike is quite useful in windy weather.  If that weren’t enough, the fact that not shopping is, for me, more pleasurable than shopping and getting it out of the way today means I don’t have to do it tomorrow, was enough to make up my mind.

Because of the planned (and executed) advancement of my shopping trip, I took my mountain bike to work today instead of my road bike, which I’ve been using most of the time for the past few weeks.  That was essentially because my panniers were already attached to the mountain bike and I was too lazy to move them across.  It did, though, have an unforeseen benefit.

On my standard route between my home and my workplace there is, at the moment, a set of roadworks (complete with traffic lights) that is causing fairly long traffic delays (especially at busy times of the day, when the tailbacks are long enough that you usually have to stop and start several times before getting through the lights.  Unfortunately, there is no feasible alternative route that avoids this particular stretch of road, as any other way would go much further out of my way.

There is a footpath running through some woods parallel to the road, which starts and ends conveniently just beyond the extent of the traffic lights.  Several times over the past few weeks I have thought of making use of this path.  However, either the traffic has been freely flowing when I’ve got to the point where the path starts (and so I’ve had no need to use it) or I’ve been on my road bike, which would not last very long on the path (it being quite steep in places, bumpy and fairly muddy).

On my way home this evening, though, I happened to be just next to the start of the path when the traffic queue stopped for the lights and, since I was on my mountain bike, I was able to make use of the path.  This didn’t actually save me any time, as it was much slower going than on the road and by the time I reached the far end the cars that had been in front of me in the queue were long gone.  Still, it did feel good to be moving rather than stuck in traffic, and it was nice to get my bike off-road for the first time in quite a while.

This reminded me that one of the reasons I got the mountain bike in the first place (about 10 years ago) was so that I could go off exploring the off-road paths that I sometimes encountered on my travels.  The other reason was that I wanted a bike with lower gears (to cope with the hills that you occasionally encounter in this part of the world) and a more comfortable saddle than my road bike had to offer.  Now that I’m, shall we say, a somewhat more hardened cyclist, I don’t find the gears or the saddle of my road bike to be such a problem, but I still value the ability of the mountain bike to go off-road and not instantly fall apart.

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  1. I used it once and picked up a lovely thorn puncture! Mike’s bikes was open in upper Bangor at the time so it was repaired whilst I shopped but like Dr. Foster re Gloucester I never went there again!

    • I remember Mike’s Bikes. I also remember when Mike’s Bites (which is still there) opened up just over the road from it and things suddenly became very confusing.


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