Saturday, 24 March 2012

Singing on the by-pass.

Yesterday I was riding over to meet Mikey from work.  It was a lovely sunny day but as ever the ocean wind was brutal. Ah well, I'd have a tail wind all the way there.  I decided to take the longer route there - along the by-pass - as with the tail wind it would be fun and super fast.

Weeeeeee!  I was having a blast.  I had a song repeating over and over in my head. I didn't know many of the words so it was just the same two lines over and OVER.  Trouble was it wasn't just in my head - I was singing at the top of my lungs.  Ah well, at least the people in the cars wouldn't hear me over their engines and the wind.

About 3 miles in and at the first roundabout (the first place that I needed to take a proper look over my shoulder) I realised I had a cyclist on my tail. Jeez! How long had he been there? I had been singing/wailing for the last few miles and there's no way he couldn't have heard me.

I said a quick hello, trying not to look too embarrassed, before heading across the roundabout and taking my exit. Weeeee! The wind was still with me but I realised I was very early so I slowed down.  I hardly needed to pedal.  This was fun. Without thinking, I started singing again.  The same song, The same two lines. The same tone-deaf wailing.

Ooops, another quick turn to negotiate around a parked car and I was mortified to see I still had company. Eek.. I hadn't realised the cyclist had followed me.  Had I not learnt anything?  If he hadn't heard me the first time, he would definitely have heard this time.  Sheeesh! Ah well. It was too late now.  The next roundabout and he was still sat behind me - not sure why he was still behind me, as like I said my speed had dropped dramatically due to being too early for my rendezvous.  Maybe he was enjoying my beautiful catawailing. Yeah right. ;-)

I meet Mikey just near a an industrial estate but to get to the meeting place I have to turn back on myself to go and wait in a lay-by.  At this final roundabout the chap was still there.  He looked a little bemused when I signalled and manoeuvred to go all the way round but surely by now he realised I was a complete oddball.

Ah well, just maybe my cheeryness made him smile on an otherwise boring daily commute.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

(Yet) Another Close Call....

Today we were a fraction of a centimetre away from a nasty road collision.

It involved two speeding motorcycles; who were on the wrong side of a very narrow road coming round a blind bend.   They were obviously racing each other.  To make matters worse I was also at speed as I was just at the bottom of a decent.  The first "Biker" was close - I could have touched his face but he swerved and braked - braking so hard he skidded and nearly came off himself.  The second, despite seeing what happened actually swerved more into my path more.  I had NOWHERE to go.  I could see he was laughing.  I was petrified. I thought I was going to die. (Since the event I have decided he was actually playing "chicken" with me).  His front wheel was practically about to touch mine before he swerved - as he was going so fast and was so close to his friend on such a tight spot he too started to loose control.  Somehow I made it, but now my thoughts turned to Mikey who was just behind me. From the corner of my eye I saw the 2nd Bike veer back in again after he had passed me - towards Mikey!  I was now even more petrified. Would he now hit him? Somehow and thankfully he missed Mikey too - I really dont know how he kept that machine in control at such a speed. I don't know if it was all premeditated - playing chicken with us - or if the swerving was him losing control at such speed.  However I am convinced it was all malicious as they roared off into the distance - accelerating excessively as if they were still trying to intimidate us.

Since our return I have been pondering this event and how every time we go out on our bikes we risk our lives - putting them into the hands of the other (often inconsiderate) road users.  We all know people that have been hurt and some of us tragically know people who have lost their lives in bicycle collisions, yet we still go out and ride. We do everything we can to make ourselves safer; lights clothing and assertive cycling but we all seem to know that its not us that are idiots its those fricking imbeciles and their motor vehicles.

We shrug off that idiot that overtook us and then swung back into our path, narrowly avoiding hitting us as it happens on such a regular basis. We shrug off that prat who opened their car door without looking as it is such a common occurrence.  We shrug off that half-wit that just pulled out of a side road right in front of us, forcing us to make an emergency stop.  We shrug off that pillock who pushes through the traffic calming even though we are on the side with priority.  It just all seems part and parcel of the bicycle ride. We get home and feel lucky if we only have one near miss with a car on a half hour ride.  Why do we accept it as the norm? We are the vulnerable ones out there. We don't have a lovely soft airbag to protect us.

It just makes me so angry.  I drive a car for most of my working day and manage to make time and space for bicycle riders (and horse riders too of course), why cant other people just give us a little bit of space?

I often ponder what is the answer. It should be simple.  I'd like to think that as more of us cycle, more people will know a cyclist - making them more conscientious and courteous - but even this sadly doesn't seem to be the case.  I have family who believe that cyclists have no right to be on the road.  Mikey has family that drive with half their car in the bike lane.  If we can't change the opinions of those that love us how how the hell do we expect to change the nation.

Sorry, rant over!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I like hills.... who knew?

Yesterday we went on a little adventure.  Since my Rediscovery and as I live in Cornwall people have often asked me if I have done the Camel Trail.  I hadn't as it always seemed a tad far away (a 90 mile round trip).   Anyway as we have had a few days holiday this week we decided we would finally give it a go.

For those that don't know it, it's a traffic free trail that follows an old disused railway along an estuary.  It covers about 18 miles each way, taking you through the the pretty towns of Padstow and Wadebridge.  The plan was to complete it all.  I know it was ambitious as it would be just shy of 40miles - something I have never done, but what could go wrong? It was virtually flat all the way.

So we packed up the car.  As we knew the trail was likely to be gravelly we decided that the road bikes wouldn't be the best choice but MTB's would be over-kill so out came trusty Ted. I was excited to be riding him as it has been a while since he has taken me on any adventures.

Sadly the weather wasn't the best.  There was a dense fog from the onset of our car journey - getting denser as we got nearer.  At some points we could barely see the car in front.  I had my fingers crossed that it would clear up the nearer we got - I wasn't convinced though considering we were heading towards the Moors of Bodmin.  

We parked in Bodmin and set off.  The fog had half lifted.  We could see where we were going but could see very little of the landscape/scenery.

For the first few miles I could think of nothing other than finding somewhere to pee.  I was busting after the long drive, but the Trail was pretty populated with many a cyclist and dog walker.  About a mile in - we found a cafe. No! It looked very shut!  Thankfully the very nice owner saw us lurking and asked if we needed assistance.  I explained and she kindly let us use the cafe facilities.  Phew. Now I could enjoy the rest of the ride.

On returning back to the trails, we met with a lady on a touring bike.  Despite our cheery hellos she just muttered before accelerating off. Pah! How rude. We stuck 10-30 metres behind her for the next few miles. She kept accelerating off and then looking back in the hope that she dropped us.  After about 5 miles I was starting to tire of following her.  It was boring and I was missing out on the scenery being so determined not to let her go.

Once in Wadebridge there was a little bit of road to negotiate but I was pleased to see that it seemed to be a very cycle orientated place with clear bike lanes and lots of bikes around.

The next section was quite pretty and included going through a slate quarry and then over a industrial looking girder bridge.  I just wish we could have had clearer skies to appreciate all the varying  scenes more.

Padstow was even more bike orientated with hundreds of bicycle racks and even a secure bike park to leave your bikes at the end of the trail. However, not ones for walking we continued by bike into the town centre.  I wish we had left them somewhere, it was hell negotiating all the one-way streets and avoiding oblivious slow moving pedestrians.  My average speed dropped over 2mph from our short time in the centre. It was hell.  I dread to think how awful it is on sunnier days!

Although we didn't go to Rick Stiens cafe as he fries his fish in beef dripping (Yuk!) we did find another chippy and have the obligatory Fish and Chips whilst sat on the sea front.

Then we set off back home.  Ooops.  Now we seemed to have a bitterly cold headwind.  It wasn't a strong wind but there was just no shelter/respite.  I then also started to notice my legs were hurting.  Ouch... as was my saddle.  I then realised that as we had been riding on the flat we had been pedaling constantly. There was no opportunity to free-wheel as there were no down hills and there was no need to climb anywhere and get out of the saddle. Ooooww!  The wind and the discomfort started to get to me - I was struggling now. Grrr! I was no longer enjoying this.  I was just glad that we were parked where we were - we hadn't parked at the very end of the trail so we didn't actually have all of the trail to do.  The plan had been to do it all, but there was no way I could.

With two miles left before getting to the car I was at breaking point.  My thigh muscles felt like they were shearing away from my legs.  My intimate area was excruciating.  With only a mile left to get to the car I was almost crying.

We got back to the car. I wasn't prepared to carry on any further. Sod the rest of the ride - with only 24.5 miles on the clock I felt more spent than I ever had before!

I know I always moan and grumble about the hills around here but now I have experienced the pain of constant pedaling on the flat I have a new found appreciation of hills for the getting out of the saddle more and the joy of free-wheeling.

Who knew how much I would learn to love hills. ;-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Abstinence .... 2012

Yay! Just like last year I have successfully managed another month without ANY chocolate!

This year I decided I would go one better and cut out other sweet treats, cake and biscuits etc, but sadly this lasted only a few days.  So then I told myself I could just have treats at weekend..... still no chocolate of any shape or form but just a little treat or two, plain cakes or biscuits.  Again this didn't work! Work was just too stressful and my will power was non-existent!  Flapjacks and biscuits were consumed more than I would have liked.  There was plenty of times I nearly caved but instead I substituted my sweet cravings for anything other than chocolate.

Despite proving to myself that this chocoholic doesn't need chocolate it was a pretty pointless exercise as I didn't shed any significant weight or lose anything off my hips or waist.  On a positive note it does show how determined/stubborn I can be. =)

February Round-Up

After a couple of really shameful months I have finally managed to achieve a half decent mileage.

With the weather improving in mid Feb and that first [for a while] enjoyable ride on the 19th, things started to improve.  The subsequent ride was again an enjoyable one. The one after that was OK - not great, but not too painful either.  The following one was thankfully another enjoyable one; it was pretty tough with some mighty winds but non-the-less I quite enjoyed it.

Then yesterday I pulled another good ride out of the bag with a pretty decent mileage; taking a jaunt over to the seaside town of Mousehole. The weather was lovely, in fact it was so fine that the 3/4 length tights came out instead of the winter tights.  We sat on the sandy beach in Mousehole in the sunshine, sharing a veg pasty before riding home. It was so warm that shockingly I had to remove some layers on the way back as I started overheating. Yay! Hopefully this means Spring is here and that I can get back out on my bike more.

Anyway, here's the important bit. My monthly total was a respectable 112.5 miles. All of which were done on my winter bike outside - with no turbo sessions needed.

I start March feeling positive again, so watch this space.