Unlike most of the American cyclists, who hypocritically keep several automobiles, I don’t have a car at all; I gave up the car altogether in 1992.
But I have a definite use for parking lots. In my small town, I’m less than a kilometre in each direction from a good, smooth carpark, much better surfaced than the roads, where I can ride round and round when there is ice on my normal rides, or if I’m riding when the bars are emptying around midnight.
One parking lot on a hillside is particularly good. It’s quite small but it is laid out as a reversed Q, with the short section flat and long section uphill and fat with a garden strip down the middle; there is also a steep but short rise from the flat bar to the circular slope. The flat bit is big enough to make a large figure of eight at speed even when frosty.
This lot is behind a closed gate from 6pm, but I can get in via a pedestrian entrance which is not gated, and I have an arrangement with the security guys that if their alarm goes off they call the manned gate at the factory across the road and if it’s just a lone or a few cyclists the gateman can see on the hill opposite, they don’t come out.
I ride intervals on this lot for an hour, slow at first, then faster and faster, then a conscious warm down. This, I feel, does me more good as an hour or even two of gentle riding in the lanes and on the lesser hills, or an hour on one of my exercise machines. Because of my peculiar circumstances in my formative years (where I grew up and went to college rugby was compulsory, and I hated the entire oppressive apparat), I know next to nothing about the physiology of exercise. But you don’t need to know much to observe that you feel less tired and sleep better after one kind of exercise than another.
I vote for interval training, varied with whatever else you like, of course.
• Andre Jute’s sports are cycling, rugby, racing in all its forms (automobiles, offshore powerboats, transocean yachts), polo, tennis and golf. He is the author of IDITAROD a novel The Greatest Race on Earth, about the perilous 1000 mile sled dog race across Alaska, the modern equivalent of the Marathon of the Ancients. He keeps a bicycling netsite.
• Copyright ©2013 Andre Jute. This article, as long as it is used complete including this notice, may be freely reprinted on not-for-profit sites. No commercial use without permission.