Sunday, 21 August 2011

Defeating the fear demon

This week has been a pretty good week.

Firstly, and most importantly, on Friday I took the bull by the horns and rode into Penzance via the nasty pasty roundabout that a few weeks ago saw me ploughing into the side of a coach.

I didn't plan on going that way, I had decided that I would take the first exit when I got to the roundabout; avoiding crossing it and taking the long way round to get to my destination. However, as I got nearer my inner geek had other ideas. (Back in the day, I was a huge Buffy fan and one of the episodes dialogue kept going through my head, "Don't taunt the fear demon!" ... "Why? Will it kill me?" ... "No. It's tacky." .... OK, I'm going to presume that you aren't all Buffy geeks and explain that despite all the huge and nasty fears that manifested themselves ... the fear demon himself was actually just a tiny wee little thing that was finally defeated by being stamped on.) So basically, I convinced myself that the fear of doing it was actually probably worse than doing it.

So, to cut a very long story short (and to prevent you all realising how geeky I really am) I did it! I was still really nervous but thankfully made it over the roundabout in one piece. I was so happy.  It was a big achievement; especially as I did it without anyone by my side for encouragement. I'm not usually that brave! The following day I did it again - I knew I just couldn't let the incident hinder all the work I've done so far - and this time it was just a little less nerve wracking.

In other happy news today I had one of the nicest ice cream cones I've ever had. Mmmm... it was devine. (See my latest VeloCake blog post for full details).

And finally to top off such a good week, my weekly total was 60miles - 10miles more than my target!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Off topic - Cream Tea Etiquette

Unless you are from the West Country you are probably blissfully unaware of the etiquette for cream teas.  However, here in the South West this is another one of those never-ending (and pretty pointless) arguments; just like who invented the pasty.... Cornwall or Devon? Who made the first clotted cream? Who makes the best fudge, etc?

Me? I don't really care so much as long as it tastes good, but as an "foreigner" living in Cornwall, I try to blend in by doing things the Cornish way. So here it is -  a simple lesson in cream tea etiquette (as told by many a Cornish elder on my travels).

The Cornish cream tea method is to put the jam on first, followed by the cream.

(The 'cream first, jam on top' method is the Devonian approach. Personally I prefer the Cornish way - and not because I'm biased but because cream is a trickier base for spreading jam!)
Artis enjoys a Cornish Cream Tea by Kitty*Kins
Artis enjoys a Cornish Cream Tea, a photo by Kitty*Kins on Flickr.
Not content with just having a jammy issue, hard stares will also be given to anyone putting butter on their scone. .... that's apparently a big no no too! (Eek! I never knew that... but I've since heard even the Cornish gulls would turn their beaks away! ;-)

So there you go, there's no excuse now.... all thats left is to enjoy the jam and cream goodness. ;-)

(Note: The information given here, follows months of research with my beloved Cornish pensioners, but there's a good chance that I have misheard them. Why? Have you ever heard the real West Country dialect? If not, think of PC Bob Walker from the film Hot Fuzz and you'll start to get the picture - he needed a dog to interpret for him. I do not have that luxury.)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Back on the bike

Thank you all for your well wishes and comments re: the recent post/coach incident. I didn't take the matter any further or report the incident to the police as at the time I felt like I had done something wrong. It's funny how we the cyclists feel the guilt for getting in the way of the more important car users. Anyhow, I just wanted to give a quick update on things since then.

I knew that I had to get back on the bike ASAP to make sure that I didn't lose my confidence, so the following day, I went for a quick spin with Mikey.  It was OK but annoyingly I really feared crossing any roundabouts. Thankfully, with Mikey at my side, it was fine.  Life then generally got in the way of riding for the next few days and by the time I next got on my bike it was Sunday and I still had 25 miles to do to meet my weekly target.  So a long ride was on the cards and we went a little further afield than usual, making a detour to see the Llamas. There was a hellish wind that day - there was seriously no respite; no matter which way we turned it was against us! Goodness knows what way it was going, as we never had a tail wind! As for the rain - it was wet wet WET! Somehow though, we made it back with 25miles on the clock. Phewph!

So that was last week.  This week was kinda OK but I am really struggling to get out and ride alone. When I'm with Mikey I'm fine, but I have let the coach incident un-nerve me and am lacking the confidence to cross any major roundabouts by myself. Unfortunately, this has had an impact on my usual riding routine. Since my "rediscovery" I have predominantly done 2-3 rides a week into Penzance to meet Michael at work. The trouble is that there are only two ways into Penzance. One being the way I went on the day of the coach crash and I am far too anxious to go across that roundabout by myself and the only other way is through Marazion. (Which regular readers will know is hell on earth, even more so at this time of year; tourists walking out onto the narrow windy roads without looking and car drivers parking wherever they want along the double yellow lines.) So now, I am really struggling to motivate myself to ride into Penzance - only managing to muster up any motivation once this week.

I know I shouldn't let the incident get the better of me. I know that near misses with lunatic car-drivers are all part and parcel of cycling, but I just cant shake the ill feeling. I seriously feel sick at that roundabout, even when driving across it. All I can hope is that my confidence will return after a few uneventful crossings.

Due to the lack of rides into Penzance, I again came up short for mileage this week and we had to do yet another 25miler today. This time the weather was a bit more pleasant, the rain held off and I kept tucked in behind Mikey and let him contend with the evil winds. We got home with 27 miles on the clock so I was one happy girlie. Hehehe! I guess the only good thing I can take from the whole situation is that I am getting out and doing longer rides.

Friday, 5 August 2011

It wasn't my time to die

Tuesday was pretty traumatic.  The day started very normally... an extremely busy and stressful shift at work. Got home to find some workmen blocking our driveway with a mini JCB (for the 7th time in 7 days).

I was in desperate need for a ride to de-stress. I set off on my merry adventure into town to meet Mikey from work. The weather was glorious and the wind was minimal (Prob 12mph, but that's nothing for this neck of the woods) I had my shiny new shoes on and suddenly the world seemed a much better place. With a song in my head I was instantly stress-free.  I rode down the by-pass, enjoying every minute. Reaching 25mph and averaging 15. I was on top of the world.

I became a little disgruntled nearing the end of the by-pass when being forced into the middle of the fast flowing lane of traffic whilst trying to overtake an illegally parked car...  Grrr... She had her hazards on so that meant she could park on double yellows whilst reading her A-Z. Sadly that wasn't the end of my woes. Within minutes I was at a major roundabout. I needed to take the 2nd exit. I saw my chance to go and a couple of cars followed me out into the roundabout. Unfortunately a European coach (with a left hand drive) decided to then pull out of the first exit and right across my path. I pulled on my brakes as hard as I could, somehow managing to unclip from my left pedal and using my foot to help me stop quicker. (I twisted my ankle in the process.) Despite my braking and foot on the floor there was no way I could avoid a collision and I hit the side of the coach! My back wheel flew off the floor and the saddle hit me square on the back whilst my stem hit me forcefully in the groin and my face narrowly avoided hitting the coaches bodywork (my nose ended up less than 2cms away).

The coach stopped. The air was blue with my language. The cars behind screeched to a halt - somehow managing to avoid hitting into me. The air continued to be blue as the obscenities continued to fall out of my mouth. I couldn't see the coach driver but I could see some scared looking passengers. A few moments went by. No coach driver appeared to see what damage he had done. The coach then pulled off, complete with my tyre print on his otherwise pristine paint job, and took the third exit. I momentarily thought about chasing him, but he was joining another by-pass and my exit was a safer A road and I could jump on the pavement and regain my composure.

No sooner as I stopped the adrenaline left me and I was suddenly very tearful. I was just so grateful to be alive! If I had been going any faster there would have been a cat in hells chance of stopping. If I hadn't been paying attention my reactions would have been slower and it doesn't bear thinking about the consequences.

I shakily made my way to the rendezvous point to meet a very concerned Mikey and John and we made our way back home. I was OK when I had the both of them with me, protecting me at the front and back but no sooner as John turned off I suddenly felt very vulnerable, especially at the little roundabout into our village where another idiot car driver decided to cut in front of us, far too close for comfort.

I spent Tuesday night being sick and with diarrhoea. Must have been the shock. (Or maybe the trauma to my guts.)  Anyway, I'm all better now. I've never had such a close call, but I guess it just wasn't my time to die and I have never been so happy to be alive. =D

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New shoes and monthly round-up

... ooOoo I got new shoes and I’m ready for the weekend….. (Well I was, but due to the lack of internet access this post is being published a little later than I planned)

On Mikeys return from work on last Friday he pulled out a pair of white and baby blue shimano shoes. I laughed, telling him he couldn’t seriously be planning on wearing them - they were far too girlie. I hadn’t realised they weren’t for him, as they were a lovely and very unexpected gift for me. Usually his gifts are the edible/chocolate kind so I was extremely shocked.

Although they are technically a MTB shoe they are another step towards looking a little more pro-roadie as they are white with Velcro fastenings (which is super as I’ve had far too many near-misses with shoelaces getting caught up in my chainring!)

Last Sunday saw my first adventure with them when we went out for a few hours. The more rigid soles were perfect; recently I’d been struggling with the flexibility of my spesh Tahoes, getting hotspots and sore feet. So the new shoes made a welcome improvement. Amazingly, we managed to get the perfect cleat position and they didn’t need any tweaks half way round. Unfortunately, the next ride in them was miserable; it was raining and on my return my shoes were very wet and mucky from all the dirt on the roads. I’m a lucky girl though - Mikey quickly cleaned and dried them and they’re back to being like new.

As for this Julys ride mileage, it has been a good month. Every week I managed to do in excess of my 50mile target and my total July mileage was 250.5miles, bringing my yearly total to 1590.1miles.
Most of July's miles were on the road bike. With only one 10mile ride on the CX bike. This was an easy ride along the coast path however, I wont be doing that again for some time as it was hellish due to the influx of tourists. There was also one fun MTB ride. 12.7miles of off-road goodness. Most of the local singletrack was dry and dusty but more importantly at the end of the ride we met fellow VeloCaker, RocketDog and his other half for tea and cake. ;-)

This month has been pretty average for mileage but more significantly I am really pleased as my average speed is getting better. With the exception of the MTB ride, my average speed has always been in excess of 13mph. This time last month I was predominantly averaging 12-12.5.