Archive for the ‘Riding’ Category

Strange Brew

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

I thought I’d remind my bike who I was today.  We’ve seen too little of each other of late for one reason or another, not least of which being college, over-due coursework & toes of the ‘energy leaking forever out’ variety.

The sun came out which seemed like an omen of the right sort.  Naturally it had hidden itself behind a shield of grey by the time we got ourselves sorted, I’d coaxed glove liners and shoes from various hiding places and done all the usual pre-ride faff.  It was a strange ride, not entirely a bad one but a strange one nonetheless.  My heart was pleased to be pedaling.   My legs weren’t entirely displeased but they huffed up the hills and gave me resigned looks whilst they struggled with the Chiltern slopfest and too many of the ‘oh that puddle’s quite deep then’ moments.  My circulation trudged round slowly trying to work out what it was supposed to be doing, which wasn’t much on the energy front. We plodded on watching tortoises on zimer-frames make short work of the mud n’ puddles.

And then there were the things… It started with a trail of pristine, white, cushions in the middle of the road as I climbed out of the village.  Each one  carefully placed on the verge so as not to frighten passing cars.  It ended with an ostrich.   In between I had row with a man in an anorak armed with an alsation, ate cake mix (possibly not the best idea as my Mother’s approach to ‘it’s a bit dry’ was another pint of brandy), had a chat with the police, drank a gallon or two of tea, procrastinated lots (it was cold out there)  borrowed my Mother’s  clothes then  remembered that you warm up when you do pedal even if it’s slowly (sweaty mess).  It finished in the dark.  Just me a petzel, a bucket of soapy water and the bike, alone together in the glooming.  The way it should be.

When’s summer?


Friday, April 23rd, 2010

When nothing in my world is making sense, it’s all violin strings and piano wire, when my heart is bruised and bleeding and for all those moments in between. A savoured sunset, fresh air, big skies. The exquisite pleasure of self-inflicted hurt.

The joy of occasionally getting it ‘just so’. Nailing a corner or the softest of treads.

Giggles that pull my face into a smile, shared with friends or just the birds, no matter which. Adrenalin, unfettered freedom, unadulterated, untarnished *just because* bliss.

Riding makes my heart sing. Nothing else comes close. Unlike life, loves and the weather it rarely fails me.

Polar opposite: a tale of two rides

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I met up with Mr Morley for a day on the Downs. The words below, pilfered from his corner confirmed what I saw as he nailed the single-track like he was on rails and climbed like an oddly shaped, but efficient mountain goat:

‘the first steep confirmed my legs were good, it all felt a bit detached to be honest, just floating up the climb, the sensation continued on the climb to the top of Leith Hill, amazing, down the other side and the climb back over the top the nasty techy singletrack one despatched in the middle ring, no hurt no pain just gliding?’

Things weren’t so lovely in camp Allison.

There was no indication at the start of the misery to come. None at all. We went straight to Leith from Holmbury rather than the usual circuitous route. My legs thought they done the harder yards and continued in their misbelief.

Half way up High Ashes I waved the flag, sat down, ate half a Torq bar. Crawled miserably up to the Tower. The other half went down in desperation. Things picked up a little and reached something beyond mere survival. Summer lightening et al were despatched, ditto the climb back to the top, albeit slowly. And that was it.

From then on I trailed in Raoul’s kind and ever-patient wake. Weighed down by anvils, with legs full of lead ‘n vinegar, drenched in sweat of Hunter S Thompson preportions. Leaden, empty, just wanting to be put out of my misery.

Raoul told me take ‘a moment’. Immediate and grateful collapse face down into the grass. Unable to move, or focus on anything except the suffering going on inside my shell. He’d ridden a climb with aplomb that I’ve no doubt struggled up but never walked not once, not even in the broken years. I hadn’t even tried. I couldn’t.

Not a rider, just a passenger and a sodden, lumpen and sorry one at that. And an insult, an insult to quiet dry trails, who’d murmoured soft nothing’s, beckoned and enticed, laid out their lovelies in anticipation, deserving some justice. They got nothing from me. I owe them and my bike an apology.


Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Thursday n’ Friday miserable knickers, antibiotic exhaustion with a splattering of despair and a reminder of what it was like 3/4 years ago (every activity was punctuated by repetitive sitting ‘n lying) and ‘I thought I’d got past that’ thoughts.

Saturday, delivery of cake ‘n goodies courtesy of me Mum and a friend (cooks like a goddess) and a raincheck on a ride in the SLK (rubs hands). Peer at the mobile which mostly gets ignored to find a day old, but still doable invite from a friend who habitually disappears for months, nay years on end and then pops up like a jack in the box when you least expect but often most need. Cue a ‘Minor’ Adventure cross country to Bledlow Ridge via Missenden, Kingshills, Naphill, Walters Ash, Loosley Row et al. I couldn’t face Wycombe and it was too lovely not to make the most of the skies. Sans map, following my nose. In the nick of time for supper at the local then back for an evening wine and natter followed by a peaceful nights kip. No motorway drone or kids squawking (actually I mostly like the kids, just in not in ‘my’ mornings).

Home, decide to try and ride off supper. The sun’s shining it’d be rude not to. Run into loads of folk doing the Offroad Sportif. Now it was late in the day so the people I met were obviously doing the long loop and tired but after about the fifth ‘pack’ of team- lyrca clad idiots had tried to ride me off the track, and my cheery hello’s had fallen on deaf ears and stoney faces I was beginning to feel slightly miffed. I harbour this strange idea that it’s polite to hold a gate open for other riders not just barge through it yourself. It’d also be rather nice if you shut the f**king things after you.  Especially when you’ve just ridden through what is clearly a farm yard complete with cattle grids. I came across an old gentleman looking baffled and windswept.   Like a load of miserable, hairy-arsed, ignorant, f**kwits had just ridden past at speed..

Now I know that the world is full of c**ks and preportionally there’s going to be just as many on bikes but it was a lovely day, the trails were dry, you expect more surely..

Deployed sarcasm instead of smiles ie told one lot it’d clearly been a bad day given the number of miserable faces I’d seen (including yours). Cue blank look and drool.  Persistence won and I finally managed a nice natter with roadie biting his off-road cherry and a few others further along,  which left a better taste as I twiddled past feeling just ever so slightly smug on the crosser.


Friday, April 24th, 2009

I find this hard to comprehend but I was disappointed, nay gutted that the crosser was out of action this week. Bear in mind that this is the bike I invented a years worth of extremely plausible excuses for avoiding like the bubonic plague and you’ll understand my confusion.

But as a certain, exceptionally grumpy Scottish chap put it:

‘Crossers work their way into your psyche and before you know it, it’s not that bike you ride once a week or commute on, it’s the bike you go to first and pine for.’

He also claims he can’t write..

In from the cold

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I’ve been lost for words, not something that afflicts me often but a late night session with distilled grape and we’re off again.

It’s been pants with a capital ‘P’ and then I had a weekend up in the Peaks with friends. Just accepted, no-one chastising me for being too slow and tired, or on the flip side for being ‘too’ well.

What I get when I roll up, having found the note on the door directing late-comers to the pub, is smiles and several ”you look well’s”. The angst rolls away like fog under the morning sun. And it really is one of the best of the gatherings, organised to perfection by our ultimate MC. No pressure, just smiles and riding under specially booked blue skies.

I can’t get enough it’s a drug, it’s oxygen and arnica for the soul, anaesthesia for hurt.

Sunday wraps up early. Too early, despite 6am comedy alarm calls in the girls room. I want more, no I *need* more. A friend manages to save me from myself and keep the weekend going with a deft slight of hand. We do another loop but just a short one. Crafty b*gger, sensible soul.

Roll into Sheffield by which time planet fluff has taken over the cerebral cortex and find myself being retrieved by a friend who understands that I’m only 300 yards the wrong way but it might as well be 300 miles. Bathed, belly filled, wee dram for bed, asleep with book in hand. Drive home via the Peaks and breakfast, taking my time and the scenic route.

Sunshine stretches into my head and fills my dreams, wakes me up with a smile, for now and for then. Those ‘things’ get brushed under the carpet, hidden behind the sofa, shoved to the back of the cupboard. I know it’s only temporary but I’m going to coast in it’s light whilst I can.

And the weather…

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Was shoddy, interspersed with showers of cr*p, disappointment, a knife in the guts and much precipitation.

Several nights spent staring at the ceiling, which doesn’t get any more interesting as the clock crawls to dawn. Despondent, motivation in minuses. The cat got fed and that’s about it.

Then friends, the ones that matter, ring to check, just because and it helps. And a ride, a ‘proper’ one for which I’m late and contrite. But it’s ‘no bother’ and a smile. Much admiring of the new and exceedingly lovely bike. Dusty trails, properly warm, even by my reptilian standards. Gilet and armwarmers dispensed, whiter than white exposed to sunlight. Natter, tea, cheese-straws, singletrack, more smiles. Things get put where they should be.

Shop for breakfast, assist in it’s cooking, hit the sofa but it’s no good. My head’s full of cotton wool soaked in treacle, limbs are shakey lead. Back to bed with eyelids like anvils. Sleep till 4ish. Prep dinner, fling on kit ‘cos the sun’s been shining from deep blue everytime I’ve unglued an eye and looked up. I can’t not, you understand, no matter how silly. Promptly get lost, back track. Wibbles. Bearable.

First climb, long and draggey at the best of. Drop a few gears, keep dropping. Get to the top, sweating, shaking, blurred. Rummage, shovel in food, sit. The light’s against me and I know I’ll have to take the short cut but I pretend and take the turn past the farm with the lake and the swoopy bit. The sinking sun’s reflected in still water. Stand and stare, letting it seep gently in.

Turn regretfully to the short cut. It’s getting gloomy and a bit nippy. But my jerseys more visible than a black windproof and the cold makes me feel ‘alive’. Zip back down the climb. There’s just a glimmer of light by the time I get back. Employ all the emergency measures I can muster. Sleep comes like anaesthetic.

The inevitable’s arrived overnight, the special tools are out but Monday’s are supposed to hurt right? My head’s half treacle, but half dust ‘n sunshine, with a smattering of living, the echo of body plus bike, movement, not sadness, stagnation and ceilings. It’s drowning out the noise. Worth it? Every time and if you don’t get it I don’t care and I probably just don’t want to know you anymore.


Friday, March 20th, 2009 got used for what it was intended. Went to da shops, we even tried a bridleway albeit briefly. And I’m glad we did, had a flash back to the Wolds circa 1990, off-roading my road bike in stripey victorian stylee shorts complete with lace trim*, black Fila’s, wind in my hair (no helmet back then) sun always shone..

Cut back to the present – budget saddle choice didn’t make its presence felt.. exactly as it should be. The ‘wider’ bars seem just as narrow, shoulders still feel like they’re at ear level. Work in progress. Didn’t fall off, this time.

* what was I thinking…

The House of Sleep

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I rode, it’s fair to say it was the first ‘proper’ ride of 2009. The Downs were surprisingly dry, the company was good, tea and cheese straws at Peaslake. What more could you ask?

However, I’m going to add ‘it’ll just be a bimble’ to the list of riding misnomers and sayings to be taken with a liberal pinch of salt eg this is the last hill, it levels out just round the corner. About 25 miles later we got home.

No don’t get me wrong it was marvelous. I just wasn’t quite ready for it after an enforced lay off on top of the usual. Some 9 1/2 hours sleep, awake in time for the omnibus edition of The Archers, out of bed shortly after. Brunch, faffage and then back to bed and another hours sleep (not bad for an insomniac). Didn’t make it out of my ‘jammies till gone 4 o’clock. Spent most of Monday in bed, dozed in the afternoon.

This years racing forecast – with apologies to Michael Fish

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Uncle G predicts some rain, some sun and scattered bouts of happiness.

In other words get your ark ready now.