This mornings cycle commute was slippery than a slippy thing. At 6.45am this morning everything was frosty when I went out for the milk. When I left for work at 7.15am it had started to rain. The main roads were fine if a little slippy in places, but the side roads were like a a skating rink. I managed to avoid falling off somehow, but once I reached the genal that cuts through to work I couldn’t stand up without walking on the grass. However it was so slippy out the other side I coiuldn’t get back on the bike. When I finally got to the bike shed the walk down the site to my office would have been more suitable for Torvill and Dean. A normal 2 minute walk took 15 minutes. They say it’s going to walm up. Roll on please anything is better than this.
I was very sorry to hear yesterday of the death of Gary Speed. He was one of the few really nice people in football. His untimely death is very sad and my heart goes out to his family and friends. I am very grateful that I was able to see him play as a young man in the Leeds midfield with Gordan Stachan and David Batty when the went on to win the very last First Division Championship. In a time when every Tom Dick or Harry are held up as world-class players, Gary Speed played the game and lived his life in a dignified way.
A truly truly nice guy who will be sadly missed.
I like most people, I suspect, find it difficult to motivate myself to ride as often and as far when its, cold, dark, wet, icey or a combination of any of them. In the summer the days are long and the sun is warm. Riding around the country roads of North Yorkshire is a joy. Those same roads don’t hold the same magic in the winter months. Sure we do still get some really pleasant days, last Saturday was a fine example. I set off and rode a circular route of about 16 miles returning home in a little over an hour. Very nice. On Sunday morning I opened the curtains to be greeted with thick fog and drizzle. Needless to say I found any number of good reasons not to go out for a ride and the bike remained in the garage. The worrying part is its going to get much worse between now and next spring. I am going to have to have a word with myself and ensure I get out on those nice days when they occur, otherwise that bike is going to collect a lot of dust over the next few months. In support of myself I have to point out I cycle to work through the winter in all weathers, and mostly in the dark, but its only 3.5 miles each way. So I don’t give up entirely, but it’s already noticeable that after averaging approximately 100 miles a week from April to September, October was down to 108 miles for the month. To counteract this I have pledged to endeavour to get out as often as possible on a Friday afternoon as I finish work at lunch time, and on a Sunday afternoon, when hopefully I can take advantage of the best part of the day. We’ll see!
Its some time since my last post, but I have packed in some things since then. Firstly my ride from London to Paris. Three wonderful days of cycling with a great bunch. It was really well organised and supported by Cycle Wild. There was 40 of us in the end, and we managed to raise £55,000 for Diabetes UK between us.
I them went to my daughters in the USA for a holiday. Its the first time we have been to them since they moved to New Jersey in May this year. We had a really nice time with them, and particularly enjoyed the weekend away in Cape May on the Jersey coast. We managed to get lost on out second to last day trying to go to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from the Jersey City side. We managed to see most of the Manhatten skyline from across the Hudson river and racked up $25 in road tolls, when it should have cost us $3.90. We did eventually find it, and had a wonderful day, after driving through some real dodgy places. Got lost on the way back to, so ended up in Starbucks and a strong coffee to calm the nerves. We have driven all over the USA in the past and never managed to get lost before, but it was New York! Lucy and her husband Ben had the snow this weekend. They had 10 inches and the power is out. They don’t expect to be back on before Wednesday.
On our return we got a call to say Jill’s dad was in hospital seriously ill. He had a stroke four and a half years ago, and has been living in a care home. Sadly he passed away peacefully after two weeks back in the care home with his family around him. He had a good life and was 87 years old.
We are going to Athens this week for five days, which will be a well deserved break after the last month. It will be nice to have some Autumn sunshine to recharge the batteries before Christmas.
The culmination of all my efforts over the spring and summer will finally come together when I take part in the London to Paris cycle ride in aid of Diabetes UK this weekend. We start on Friday at 7am from Greenwich through Kent to Folkestone, overnight in Dieppe. Then on through the French countryside to Vernon on Saturday. Then finally into Paris on Sunday finishing at the Eiffel tower. I’m really looking forward to the ride and meeting up with my fellow cyclists, most of whom have only been names on an email list. Its just 12 months since I got the e-news letter from Diabetes UK advertising this years ride. At the time a group where away doing last years ride. I’ve been an active cyclist for about 45 years and have in that time done lots of challenges including the C2C with a group from work, a few years back. When I saw this I just knew I had to do it. It was just what I was looking for, without knowing I was actually looking! And it’s for a good cause which I have a vested interest in, having Type 2 Diabetes myself. So I find myself like a dog with two tails, waiting to set off down to London tomorrow. I am sure to have an adventure and some tales to tell when I get back. If I remember, I will take some photographs, in an effort to document the trip. I will then be able to bore people to death with my stories and colour pictures!
As the Joni Mitchell song Flat Tires goes “you dream flat tires, dream flat tires, dream flat tires” well I did more than dream it I lived it.
On Sunday I get the Scott road bike out for my usual ride at 7.15am. Check the tyres and the rear is a little soft. Not a problem, put some air in it. I start to pump and it get harder. Just as I am getting to a point where its at the right pressure it starts to go back down again. Try again same thing. Its starting to get late I need to meet my friend Steve, so have another go and get it to a reasonable pressure and off I go. Within half a mile of home I can feel every bump in the road through the wheel rim. I only have a small emergency pump, which I have never tried before so don’t want to risk it going down any further. So I decide to press on as it is, and complete my Sunday 24 mile ride. By getting out of the saddle when I spotted any unavoidable bump it wasn’t too bad, but a little slower than usual. On Tuesday evening I blow up the rear tyre ready for Wednesdays ride after work, same performance as Sunday. Eventally after a lot of heart ache and some bad language it seems to be reasonably hard. Wednesday morning riding into work its back to square one, riding on the rim over every bump. By now my language is not very nice, and I’ve taught myself a few new words to descibe the back tyre. I attempt to blow it up when I get to work, its now softer than when I started (air is blue). At lunch time I have another go using the emergency pump. If I screw it onto the valve part way it lets out more air than I am putting in, if I screw it right on I can’t compress the pump, someone is taking the piss here! Eventually with it adjusted to a mid point I get the pump to work, and it starts to go up, but still leaks out above a certain pressure. I get changed after work and set off on my long ride. A couple of miles into the ride I have had enough of the the constant clunking as the rim bottoms out on the slightest bump. I decide I must have a slow puncture and turn towards home to fix it. My wife Jill is suprised to see me as I was two hours earlier than planned. I change and set about tackling the tyre. Wheel out, tube out, blow it it and check for leaks, nothing! Put the tube back in and try to blow it up same performance. Whats wrong with this F…ing tyre. Eventually after a lot of trying, I find the only way the pump will work is if I screw the valve out to the maximum, fit the pump and blow it up. Success the tyre inflates beyond my widest dream, and is still up hard this morning. Its been frustrating but I am glad I know how the pump works before I need it on the way to Paris in three weeks time.
I finally got a decent ride in after an on off weekend. Took a days holiday last Tuesday to ride with my new friend Don. He is riding London to Paris and lives not too far away from me. We had a nice day in which I did 57 miles. On Sunday we planned to go to our daughter Amy’s in Selby as she had invited us for tea. I thought this would be a good opportunity to get a longish ride in over to her’s. I cancelled my usual Sunday morning ride with Steve, as I thought I would take the chance to sleep a little later on a Sunday for a change, as I was riding in the afternoon. When I got up at 7.45am it was a lovely day, which was unusual this summer, and I was missing it. Never mind I am riding this afternoon. At lunch time Jill got a text from Amy to say she was unwell and tea was off. Our plans where now changed, Jill went over to take care of Amy, I went to visit her dad in the home where he lives, and we met at Jill’s mums where we spent the rest of the day tidying the garden, as it was such a nice day. So Sunday was over and no ride, I felt I was cheating, by not riding. So the plan was for a long ride on Tuesday as Jill was out. Its been hot here for a few days, and at 3.00pm we had a terrific thunderstorm, it was like a monsoon. It was drying nicely when just before 5.00pm it had anorther go. Was I going to be thwarted again. No decided to set off and see how it went. It looked black a few times, and I cycled through a number of places that had clearly had a lot of rain recently. However I kept dry other than a wet arse from the spray and have very dirty bike. 32 miles thats better!
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have heard those words from a loved one or close family member. In my case its my wife. She dispares at the way I look everytime I leave the house to go cycling. Cycling shorts or in fact any form of lycra is not over flattering when you weigh more than 14 stone and are 5′ 8″ tall. All my life I have looked like a man with a pillow or two shoved up his shirt. Its a family thing we all look like that. I’ve cycled most of my life, commuting every day for the last 28 years, and currently ride about 300 miles a month. I take care of what I eat, as I have diabetes. Do I loose weight ” do I bollocks”.
On the funny side I once rode with a group of friend to a local country park, where we met our families for a nice day out. The park had a swimming pool, which we planned to use. Unexpectedly my son who was a teenager at the time came along. He had no swimming shorts and wanted to go in as it was a very hot day. Jill my wife decided he could wear my shorts and I could go in in my cycling shorts. After a while in the pool I decided to get out. Unknown to me the chamois liner in my shorts had expanded in the water and now resembled a large barrage balloon around the crotch area. As I walked round the pool the water in my shorts leaked out like an incontinant horse. Jill heard a lady next to her say to her friend “look at this mans shorts, would you let your husband out like that” when she looked up and realised the lady was referring to me, she hoped with all her might that no one would realise I was with her. My kids still laugh about it to this day.
I haven,t blogged for some time now, I wasn,t sure if anyone read them, then I remembered a number of people telling me to blog for yourself first and others like them thats a bonus. So here goes again. On the 18th June I rode the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride its 72 miles and finishes in the the Country Park at Filey. Jill and her sister Barbara (who was visiting from the USA) came out to meet me at the end. When Jill dropped me off at Wetherby for the start, it looked like I was going to get wet, but thankfully the rain stopped son and it was an improving day. The roads had plenty of standing water on them, but it didn,t rain again. Jill asked what time I expected to be finished, and would want collecting. I had worked on it taking about five and a half hours to ride plus half an our for lunch and drink stops. Right on time six hours after my 8 am start I rolled into Filey, they were lucky to get a photo of me at the finish as they had only just got there themselves. Although I have done this ride a little faster some years back, I can,t remember enjoying it more. As part of my training for Septembers London to Paris, I had decided to ride the next day on my usual Sunday ride with Steve. I needed to know how I would feel riding the next day after a long ride. I have done it before on the Coast to Coast, but its a few year ago! It was great, after a few miles to stretch the legs, and get rid of a bit of stiffness in the muscles, I was riding well and actually got out of the saddle for the up hill bits. I am happy now that I can make Paris and get there in a reasonable state. I always thought I could but I just needed to prove it to myself.
Fundraising for the ride is going well, and I passed £1200 against my £1500 target this weeled with a coffee morning at church. I also have a further £175 pledged, so I am confident of reaching my goal. The hotel for the night before is booked, and I need to work on the train down now, I will see if I can get any cheap tickets. We,ve managed York to London for £10 single befor.
I don,t have any more organised rides planned before September, but will keep up the riding until then to keep fit.
On of the young guys from our office rode Lejog at Easter with a friend. It took them 10 days which is prity impressive in my book. He told me how they were feeling very pleased with themselves. They bumped into a couple of brothers who had finished the same day as them, in the pub that evening. It turned out they had taken 8 days , on a slightly shorter route, but still impressive. At this point they said that’s only halfway for them. They were about to set off the next day and run back to the start in 23 days. Now that’s a challenge!
As for me I will be riding until Sunday 29th May and then I will have a week off the bike for my sons wedding up in Alnwick. Making a little holiday out of it. I could take the bike and get a few rides in, but to be fare to Jill, I am going to take a break so we can spend some time together. It wont do me any harm to recharge the batteries, and then press on for the Great Yorkshie Bike Ride a couple of weeks after.
This weekend we are looking at secondhand cars with my daughter Amy. Her 10 year old Ford KA finally bit the dust. It failed the MOT big style, with a repair bill more than it was worth. We have a fancy for a Vauxhall Corsa, so we will see.