Please check my maths

A motorist travels 20 miles at 40 miles per hour average. This journey takes him a grand total of 30 minutes to complete. He arrives at home free from stress in time for Eastenders and a large plate of chicken kiev with oven chips.

A day later he undertakes the same journey home from work, the same twenty miles in the same van with the same estimated time of arrival. However, today is his unlucky day as part way through his journey he encounters me riding my bike along a single track lane. He’s held behind me for 5 minutes and becomes incandescent with rage at my inability to pull aside and let him through. I’ve kept him from his chicken kiev and he’ll have no idea whether or not Phil has smashed Sharen’s face in with a jellied eel.

But let’s look closer at the mathematics.

For all but five minutes of his journey he was travelling at an average speed of 40 mph. For the five minutes behind me he was reduced to a paltry ten mph as we were going up hill and I was puffing. Let’s postulate that this happened at mile 10 of his journey.

In both cases miles 0-10 took Mr Van 15 minutes

Sat behind Dave at 10mph for five minutes he travelled 10/60 x 5  = 0.83 miles

Normally in this period he would have travelled 40/60 x 5 = 3.33 miles

So I have held him up and he is 3.33 – 0.83 = 2.5 miles behind on his schedule.

Assuming he is a reasonable driver he returns to his 40mph pace, at 40 mph he covers 1 mile in every 1.5 minutes, so this extra 2.5 miles has cost him 2.5 x 1.5 = 3.75 minutes.

But hang on one second. All is not quite right here. This was a hill, along a single track lane and he’s a reasonable driver. I’m sure his journey average may be 40mph, but would he really have been doing 40 up this hill? I think you’re right. I think he would normally slow down a fair bit himself just in case something else was coming, so my calculations are wrong. I reckon he would have been doing 22mph, so let’s have another go at the sums.

NOT sat behind Dave he would have travelled 0.83 miles at 22 mph which is 2.3 minutes. I made him do this in 5 minutes so its all looking a little bit more reasonable now as his total delay time is 2.7 minutes

So, sat behind me for 5 minutes has only cost him 2.7 or  more correctly 2 minutes 42 seconds even though his speed was almost halved.

Seems a lot. Think of all the things you could do in 2 minutes 42, I’ve listed some of them below:-

  • cook two “minute” steaks to perfection and a third one quite rare
  • solve a couple of countdown conundrums and still have time for some convo with the bloke off the Apprentice
  • have sex (twice) and a cigarette
  • complete the Sun crossword
  • launch 16 rockets into space and begin a seventeenth (think about it)
  • not run a whole mile (unless a serious amount of substance abuse is involved)
  • write down on paper the entire set of plot devices in Eastenders since its inception
  • patiently follow an ageing cyclist vainly attempting to hill train before a forthcoming big event

There’s a point to all of this. It’s unusual that I hold up a driver for five minutes, I’d say one or two in most cases and I’ll usually make some sort of effort to allow them to pass. So my figures above are somewhat exaggerated yet still I hear them behind me, revving their engines, pushing ever closer to my rear wheel, what for? For minutes. 

If only I knew how precious these minutes were then I’d acquiesce, were they for a child about to be born and a missed paternal presence, I’d move aside. A last moment with a dying parent and I’d throw the bike over the hedge in a desperate attempt to get out of the way. A critical interview for a man who’s been jobless for years would warrant a stop-and-on-your-way.

But Eastenders and a slightly overcooked chicken kiev? An irrational sense of impatience bred from a lack of empathy with others? An extended lunch break that’s foreshortened your delivery window? 

Fuck you, I ain’t cowering in a hedge to let you squeeze past, I’m training, I’m doing something worthwhile.

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One comment on “Please check my maths
  1. Andy C says:

    This is superb. Impatience quantified in time lost. I get this attitude from people most times I go out on the road. I wish there was a quick way to make the person trying to overtake you realise that they are putting your life in danger for the sake of not missing Eastenders. (To be precise 2mins 42secs of it) It’s on IPlayer FFS.
    Keep up the great work. I really enjoy your videos as well. The true essence of Bikepacking: Struggle, swearing and smiles.