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.


May 8th, 2009

It’s a parkland amble compared with ‘that, that went on before’ but Round II is robbing me off my new found va voomery. And I didn’t have it long. A joyous weekend in the Peaks and a soul singing, heart lifting week in the Lakeland sunshine, conquering mountains and clocking up more miles ‘n smiles than I’ve managed in an age.

Now I can feel the energy draining down, leaking out from my toes. The pain monkeys have sent their helpers, just the little ones mind but tearing myself from my duvet is becoming harder with every passing day. Circulation feels thick and soupy, a vaguely toxic sludge creeping slowly through the veins. Body is heavy and slow, concrete and lead, aching quietly to itself.

I know that once I’m up it’ll be better, by that second cuppa it’s almost okay. It’s just the ‘getting up’ I’m having trouble with. I need a caffeine drip on a timer, I need to roll naked in the nettles to wake up, remind myself that I’m still alive and just be grateful that I’m not hiding behind the sofa and walking the thin line of the insane and the fearful. That my ears are buzz free and I’m not looking for buses.

So I need to pull my finger out and just TOUGHEN THE F**K UP THEN*

*Tried. Did my errands by bike (cross bike of course). Felt very off and I can’t blame the headwind, which wasn’t trying that hard. Sweating ‘n shaking even before I had to crawl back up *that* hill with far less gearage than I’m happy with. Decidedly *bonky* by the top, despite having a proper breakfasty lunch. Obliged to buy a paper, coffee and a bun and pass the time a while. Every cloud then..


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

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.

Keeping Grant company

March 26th, 2009

Overdone it. Riding to stop the noise in my head and ‘damn the consequences’ caught up with me good and proper at four o’clock this morning. The pain monkeys had all the tools out and the shoulder not wanting to be left out joined in. Gave in, got up, made a cuppa and broke the glass on the ‘for emergencies only’ painkillers.

Pottered around, tidied up a bit, gave the cat an early breakfast, read for a while. Waited, sleep rolled in sometime between six and seven. Phone rang around ten. Got up delt with it and considered starting the day but battered and shattered clearly hadn’t left the building. The cat in his infinite wisdom got up stretched, re-arranged himself on his side of the duvet and went back to sleep. I followed suit minus the stretching. Surfaced around lunchtime. Weary but the tools are back where they should be.

And the weather…

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.


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

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.

Honour amongst thieves*

February 20th, 2009

On my feet all day. No lunch. Heading home, salivating at the thought of left-over yorkies, drenched in onion gravy washed down with a lot of tea. In a triumph of mind over matter avail myself of the rented garage, on the other side of the village. Trudge home.

Promptly get a tip off that there’s logs to be had.

Given that in the 20 minute turnaround from finding the felling to returning with transport over half of it had ‘disappeared’ (the majority into the boot of a Mercedes Estate) I’m sceptical that there’ll be anything but twigs left. Oh but Common’s just round the corner, just a quick butchers then. Amazingly there’s a still a fair pile. Shoulder a few thin lengths, stagger home. Old Harry’s Game will be on in a mo, then it’s Archer time. I fancy listening to both from the warm embrace of a bath.

Pot of tea, yorkshire puds, a biscuit or three and I find myself stomping back to the garage. It’s inevitable, it’s a compulsion, fuelled by the guilt of being lazy-grassphopper last year..

In the nick of time, just parking up and a builders flatbed (I’ll be selling these on to dozey locals in day or two) rolls up… Hurl myself out of the car. A confident click on the petzel, I’m prepared. Nadda… stuff keyring torch inelegantly in gob and stumble around in the slightly less dark, hurling logs at the car, with scant regard for what’s left of the upholstery.

Hang on. The guy in the pick up is waiting…. time… stands… still….. he’s letting me have turn?!?! I got there first and the shadowy figure I can see in the cab is a gentleman? Or he’s confident that I’m not going to get much in a Moggy?

Whatever, I’m grateful… but Moggy’s were the fore-runners to the Tardis (just check the fine print in the drivers manual and press the special button) and I’ve got a bow-saw.

And he waited… quite a while but I left the rounds. Shoulder was protesting, we’d run out of space and muscle. Wobble carefully across the potholes as he gently backs up in the darkness.

Time passes, unloaded, neat stack out the back and the guilt chip kicks in. The car really should be kept away from those traffic-warden eyes that have been watching all week. Stop off to buy a bottle, I’ve earnt it. The ‘roll my own’ type in Budgens passes comment. Catch my reflection in the glass. Wide-eyed with exhaustion, hair hedge-backwards, tatty Barbour (not a fashion statement a necessity for a pony-mad 12 year okay) wellies two sizes too big, face streaked with bark stains filthy hands… Stone the crows, it’s Eddy Grundy starring back…

*locals are allowed to take felled wood (providing they doesn’t turn up with power tools, or drive their 4×4’s across the common to get it). I’m not entirely sure where the Parish Council stands re selling it on but horses for courses.. (assuming I get there first that is).

In the news

February 18th, 2009

”A convicted murderer is on the run after he fled a secure mental hospital, police said”. Call me a pedant but..

More happily – the Tornado, the first mainline steam train to be built for about half a century rocked into London last week. Eighteen years in the making, wholly funded by donations. Apparently most of the passengers were ‘delighted’ to have chosen style over speed. Marvelous, bring on the eccentrics, the ‘why nots’ and populate the roads with Morris Minors.