Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Getting back to it all the time.

Cycled in February: 95 miles

The possibility of meeting with the obnoxious teenager again and the prospect of a blue sky got me out on the bike early again this morning and I rode up onto the downs, down (bizarely) back into the valley then up again to work. The sky was indeed blue and the traffic much less threatening in the dry though I did claim myself room in the road to allow for the occasional gust of wind blowing me two feet to the right from time to time.

Just as I'm getting on a roll with this extra-mileage commute I am off to Germany on business soon and I fear everything will fall by the wayside. The determination to get back to it when I return remains strong.

With a TSK coming to stay, who knows what I will get driven to achieve. Things are certainly looking up.

If it works, this video made me laugh...

Monday, February 12, 2007

The long way round - is my number up?

Today is the first day since my pre-Christmas crash that I felt like riding the long way to work. I looked out of the window to see a bright blue swathe of sky (I had a lie in courtesy of last week's intensive bid). By the time I moved Green out of the bike-room, locked the door and walked outside, it was grey and rainy - everywhere. The waterproofs went on.

I saw Jeff riding the other way and called good morning to him. He was oddly bemused to see me going the wrong way to work but understood I am sure. At 62, Jeff is the fittest man in our department - self included.

The heavens gradually opened further as I approached and turned up Elendune Road where my longer ride got more enjoyable as the traffic died away. Still the rain sneaked through the slits in my helmet and I felt the gradual encroaching damp in my leggings from the odd drip off my coat and splash from my mudguard. A polo driver squeezed past at high speed, grinding away someone's carefully mowed grass verge with his nearside wheels. An Audi driver swung into the drive way to give me 4 ft to pass. Elendune Road is only car-wide. I stopped for the Milk tanker coming down the hill and he passed with a wave. On the hill climb a porsche cut it fine because he was too busy avoiding a fallen branch on his side. I managed to ignore him.

Back on the main road I descended to my village and had a moment when a driver decided to pull out in front of me as I descended on a wet road with wet brakes. He got some moderate abuse as I was genuinely scared and knew he'd seen me but chosen to ignore me. I know I shouldn't do abuse - not when I live so close to work but 30 seconds later a car door opened in my face and a spotty teenager emerged complete with skin head and baseball cap. I could see the spiny blonde bumfluff of skinhead under his grimy hat.

Un-remorseful, clueless ****. I wish I'd blown the bloody door off.

I got to the bottom of Brimble hill.

'Pooter was dead. Not just misbehaving - dead.

Fuck fuckity fuck fuck. All those extra miles (all six of them), all that extra abuse, all those extra dangers, all that extra rain. Worthless according to a little black block of plastic.

I got to work. Someone has discovered my secret closet of warmth to change in. Someone else's clothes were in my cubicle. Damn. I began to wonder if this is all worth it.

Then a friend came and talked bikes to me. He'd had two close calls this morning too. Was there something in the air? Were we all just that little bit tetchier because of the weather?

Only now, do I remember that as I got to the bottom of Ellendune hill, I passed a well dressed (green wellies and wax jacket well-dressed) lady walking her dogs the other way and at the exact moment we made eye contact and said good morning, the sun came out and blazoned us with daylight through the grey. Somebody turned the lights on and two complete strangers acknowledged each other verbally and that, amongst other things, is one of the treasures that makes my ride to work all the more worthwhile.

Off to fit a nu 'pooter.

Miles cycled in February: Approximately 85

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not last

We did another Trailbreaker event today in the South. Being in Surrey (as in, "I, Trepid Explorer, do solemnly declare that I never thought I'd find myself mountain biking in Surrey"), it felt easy-peasy compared to the finger-chilling, toe freezing, 5-hour madness of West/North Yorkshire.

We were bold and brave and set ourselves a target of achieving two of the high-score 50-point check-points along the way.

We were proud of ourselves for achieving the checkpoints but sadly resulted in us being 15 minutes late back to the finish - 80 points down the drain. We were 5th of 6 teams (last time we checked). The 80 points would've had us in third place.

So now we're addicted. It's like we have to get that placing. I am at least more confident that my legs will get me around the courses despite having not completed enough miles on my bike recently. I walked in the snow all of last week - there's an absence of studded tyres in this household. So tragically...

Miles cycled in February: 79 on the road, approx 30 off-road
Miles cycled this year: 268 on the road, approx 90 off-road

Must do better.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Remember the war

But don't make it up or believe everything the president of the US tells you.


Define: Absolutely necessary

The met office today warned people not to travel unless "absolutely necessary".

There was 4 inches (max) snow on the ground. At 3 am, my boss reports, he saw none on the ground. At 5:30 am I was woken by the light streaming through the slits in the blinds. Expletives passed my lips as I wondered what fool had somehow switched the light bulbs in the carpark to megga bright beams of blinding aura. Could I have died in my sleep?

I peered through the blind and there it was. 4 inches of untouched white fluffy stuff.

I wondered about getting up and walking the long way to work. I was awake. Falling asleep again would only lead to the agony of waking up woosey at 7 am with the alarm. I went back to bed and shivered. I didn't have the brain about me to switch the heating on and by the time I'd pulled my dressing gown on and fallen asleep again, that pesky alarm went off.

After tea and cereal I set off for work - smug in my coat. The neighbours kids were building snow man because school was cancelled.

and I caught this couple having a snowball fight (though not technically true because she just pushed the roof of snow off the car down his neck as he bent down to get the scraper out of the car).

It was with glee that I walked past the cars lined up on the high street. I saw the tracks of a sled then was surprised to see that the kids playing with the sled were about 16, not the 5-year olds I'd expected. It's good to know teenagers aren't too cool for everything.

On the big hill backroads, the trees formed a canopy
and the road was clear of snow. Oh how I pleaded with myself not to tell anyone at work but my secret just rushed out in the middle of the conversation.

For the rest of the photos from today and some from last week go to

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Getting out of Practice

We feel behind.

I know, it's the middle of winter, there have been illnesses and injuries but suddenly 50miles is a long way. That's what we did yesterday. We cycled to Waltham Abbey along the canal banks to drink tea, eat cake and see where King Harold was buried. I have photos but I have also lost my cable and the little XD card doesn't fit in any of the holes in the computer.

The sun shone, we saw few other people along the canals – a few fishermen, a few other hardy cyclists going about their weekend A-Bs, but no real concentrations of people. In Waltham Abbey, things seemed falsely jolly. Everyone seemed to be being nice to our faces yet deepdown we seethed over one cafĂ© without facilities and a second that, due to lack of space, insisted we put our scary cyclists' bags in the corner with the scary motorcyclists' helmets as hoards of old ladies came-and-went with arm-fulls of overflowing biddy shopping-bags.

Today we were tired. So very tired. We got up and out in good time and London was strangely dead. We went to Spitalfields market where everything seems to be a step-up from your average market stalls. We ate exotic greek pastries for breakfast then found coffee in a warm place. I didn't want to move. We went to look at the architecture of Smithfield market then after some shopping I was on the train home and I'm tired. 20 miles today.

Along with all this of course was 2 pints of beer whilst watching Morning Bride play in Stoke Newington on Friday night and a large glass of wine with Josephine on Saturday night. Who says I can't party anymore?

More miles is what we will be doing. I have fitted my super-power lights to my bike tonight which I hope will give me incentive to go out early to play in the dark. And... to give me some extra incentive and fuel my love of stats, I am stealing an idea from Jill:

Miles cycled in February: 87