Saturday, 12 November 2011

Time is a train, which the future will pass......

I have moved, please now follow me at:

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Leave it behind

I'm approaching the same mileage figure that I did for the whole of 2010, so I'm hopeful of hitting my last target of the cycling year. I was told yesterday that I needed a goal, to get me focused int he right cycling direction. I had one today actually, to ride up Bridge Valley Road in Bristol, it's only just re-opened after being closed for the best part of two years while the Council made sure the wall didn't fall down on anyone.

It's not the Hourquette d'Ancizan but it is steep, if about 14km shorter. I did a loop via Clevedon and parts of the Avon Cycleway, into Bristol, suspension bridge and back home. 50 or so miles in the sunshine and the cold northerly wind. Autumn is here and it is time to draw some lines under 2011.

If you haven't seen it yet I hope you will look at the Achievements in 2011 Facebook page that I set up. I think there is too much sadness and bad stuff floating around the news pages at the moment, and a few more blessings need to be counted. Maybe a bit of optimism and the realisation that we can achieve things when we set out to do so, might just spark a global recovery. No point in thinking small.

As for next year, well I continue to walk on into that journey with no preconceptions, but much, much more optimism than I had a month or so back. Let's just say that mountains will need to be involved in it somewhere. And probably a bike. But no fish.

Monday, 24 October 2011

How you shine when everything seems hopeless

Sometime I think things have gone for good, only to be pleasantly surprised, no, make that delighted, to discover that I still possess them.

Like the ability to sprint on a six-a-side football pitch. After an 18 month hiatus I returned to playing football last month. My first few weeks were torrid. I couldn't run, I couldn't pass and I couldn't control the ball. I pulled my quad, trapped a nerve in my back, and generally played about as well as Samassi Abou on a bad day. I didn't have to look that up by the way.

Four weeks of playing had me nearly convinced that, for once, age had caught up with my body. Despite my cycling fitness, my very limited footballing ability had gone to the middle-aged rest home in the sky, never to return.

I had a break two weeks ago because of the Etape Cymru (which I realise is a strange but somehow delightful juxtaposition of welsh and French, ["that's french", never ever forget that moment, because it defines your knowledge, your strength and your complete unwillingness to be pushed around. Even my boss still laughs at it, and I'm still laughing in admiration]), two weeks ago, last week I had to ride in to work because the car was broken AGAIN (thankfully no more wasps' nests though). Tonight, like a 40 year-old William Bonds (minus the sideburns, the fitness and the ability) I returned for one last go.

I will never be brilliant, I will never be as good as most of the players on that pitch. But I was good tonight. Generally did the simple things effectively, got in some fantastic blocks and tackles and scored a great goal. But best of all, I ran. And ran, and was still sprinting the length of the pitch at the end.

So, for starters, in my thinking here is just this. Whatever you do, the answers are in you, just as my answers, indeed my pace, is in there somewhere. You are the light, as they say. Not in that sanctimonious, "I'm right, you're going to hell" way. Or the stern, cruel, "I take one for the team" way.

No, a quiet, steady, "this is me, and I'm strong" way. Back off. It was Bunny who first told me, it's nice to be important, but more important to be nice", and just because it's a cliche, it's still true. Think about that.

Remember the second chorus Princess.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

You miss too much these days if you stop to think

It may be next week, it may be next month, it may be until the end of the world, but I'm having a break from blogging, while I dream it all up again. Can't guarantee what it will look like, but it will be better than before.

In the meantime I'm going to be using Twitter, so get yourself a profile and become a follower, I'll follow you too, and that way we can still be friends. And if you want some inspiration, really look and listen carefully to this:

Monday, 10 October 2011

I'm hatching some plot, scheming some scheme

"There is no such thing as a new idea, it's all about the quality of the implementation".

Thank you Mark Cheshire. The rest of you better get this quick, because those courses in creativity? They don't really exist.

Yesterday was a case in point, a closed road sportive should be easy to organise, but alas and alack, it wasn't. Skip and Bunny, who is married, actually they both are, so am I, all to different people, have blogged highly effectively with all the detail:

If you have read their accounts you will know that it was a fairly mediocre experience, and to top it all for me i got a puncture in that wheel I was worried about. But never mind, it didn't rain, and i enjoyed the Horseshoe pass, and even finished 381st out of 977, despite pretty much bimbling and coughing my way round. The weather held up, a bit of drizzle at times so that it looked like there was no line on the horizon on the tops of the mountains. But then I love a good mountain, me.

Don't take the times and stuff too literally, my Cateye computer ran out of battery halfway round, and Charlie gave up the ghost on numerous occasions, I think I did a route of around about 90 miles, in just over 6 hours cycling time, with an offical time of 6-56-39.

But for me, despite all the shambolic events of the event itself, I must paraphrase Frederick Browning on this one. FB was a fascinating character who lived the kind of remarkable life that just doesn't seem possible nowadays. Married to a famous author, having courted her quite unconventionally, and then had an "unusual" marriage, a general in WW2, as well as the trenches in the Great War, and later looked after the royal household. Anyway, yesterday was a sportive too far, quite simply I'm worn out, so for me the season is over, and I'm off to large POC camp.

I watched "From the Sky down" last night (thanks Princess, didn't know it was on) a documentary at least partly inspired by the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby, perhaps the greatest work of art ever produced. 20 years? Strike a light it feels like only yesterday I was buying it in WH Smith in Catford on the day it came out. A transformative experience, a re-invention.

To do it, they had to not only let go of the past, but to eradicate it, before they could construct the future. And in that space in between those two events, there is nothing, and you have to hold onto the faith and believe something will come.

So whilst I will be riding over the next few weeks, these pages are going to be silent. I am going to de-construct my cycling and everything connected with it (and who knows, maybe other stuff too) and then build something better. I don't know what that looks like yet so please don't ask, unless you want "I don't know" as an answer. I feel jaded and in need of a period of reflection, so yes we are all one, but on this occasion, we are very definitely not the same.

Mark was right all those years ago, it's just that I need to re-apply that piece of truth to myself for once.

See you in a few weeks.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Tear down the walls

"Do you really want me to answer that question?" I said to my new colleague yesterday morning. "I'm happy to, but you should be clear what you are letting yourself in for".

The Organiser, the heartbeat of the team, the one who makes things happen after all the high fallutin ideas have come tumbling out, and is exceptionally helpful had sat next to me on the train the night before on the way back from Reading. "Who is Mark Cavendish?" she said, in response to me waxing on lyrical about his stunning example of a winning mentality. The following morning, yesterday, after I had arrived by bike at the office for the first time, and the typically English conversation about the change in the weather and how cold it was, she asked me, "what did you wear on your bike?"

I can see I have a job on. Not the L & D stuff, building capability in a modern organisation, linking it to performance and making it a central part of what people do. No that's easy by comparison. No, I have a huge job of cycling education, but I've done it before and I'll do it again. By the time I've finished I'll have them wearing SL cleats on carbon-fibre road bikes.

And in case you are wondering, I overcooked it on the clothes, going for a Gore windproof jacket when it didn't need it. Although by the time I headed home into the strong breeze it was nice to have it on. It was also totally dark when I left at 6.30AM, but it was worth it to experience the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen when commuting into Bristol. I won't bore you, but it's sights like those that make getting up at 5.30AM so worthwhile. Lifts the spirits.

This morning I'm preparing to go and ride the Etape Cymru, wondering about which wheels to take and whether to wash my bike. I probably should, only I know it's going to get a soaking. I think we are also in for a bumpy ride on gravel where the streets have no name.

Last Sunday, when I was a mile from home I heard a pop and a sizzle from the rear tyre and got an instant flat. I was the same time away from home by walking that it would take to change the tyre, but I did it anyway. Well it was going to have to be done sometime. But it's left me with that nagging feeling about why it happened, especially as I couldn't find the source of it. I rode yesterday and it was fine, but you never know do you?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

There is no failure here sweetheart

I hope you are enjoying the Summer, I certainly am. I think I must be a bit run down because I've been struggling to shake off a lurgy for the past few days. Love that word. Along with jip, as in "my back's giving me...".

So ill have I been that even my usual miracle drug of choice, Paracetamol plus, failed to perk me up yesterday. I think the flu jab, that I took the presented opportunity to avail myself of at the Asthma Nurse check-up on Friday, (that was a long sub-clause) probably didn't help. I don't know. But there was nothing for it but to take myself and the whole Mendip Rouleur family (yes all three of us) to a Spa for a "mini-break" (a horrible phrase designed by the holiday industry to replace "a night away", far more practical but doesn't sell hotel accommodation) . And I'm not talking Belgium either.

Actually the timing was coincidental, I'd arranged it ages ago on the premise that the weather would be rubbish in early October and it would be a nice break before the Etape Cymru. So the high temperatures caught me out, but what can you do? Even the judging types amongst you must see that this weather is ideal for flexible and spontaneous folk like me. Unless you have fixed plans.

So I sat by a pool, did a bit of swimming, sat in a hot tub, and directed the water jets onto said area of jippy back, read some of my book, ate loads of nice food, and had fun. I didn't take advantage of the more advanced options, like hot stone massage or hairdressing, there seemed little point, and in any case I didn't want to take out a second mortgage. But it was fun.

And we got back home today in plenty of time for me to go and enjoy an ice-cream at Wookey Hole, and pack in a few climbs in the sunshine. I even managed to find two hills that I had never ridden up before, one is the short hill out of Easton towards Wookey, and the other is a nasty little ramp that links East Harptree Hill with West Harptree Hill, I think it's called Western Lane. I'd missed the ACG ride this morning, but perhaps next time I can design a ride that goes up this one and it can become "Guy's Hill". Bet they chicken out.

Cheddar gorge was fun. Emboldened by my experience on the descent of the Aspin in August, I took to overtaking some cars that were clogging up the descent. Not decent of them at all. Good fun though, particularly as it was bone dry, and not too windy today.

Not sure if I'll ride much this week as i start my new job and need to deal with all the priorities that this will entail. Like where are the showers and where do I store my clothes. I am in the market for a winter bike though, so if anyone knows of a 54 cm frame, preferably steel, that has gears and brakes and can be flogged to death over the next six months, please let me know. All part of the plan believe it or not.

As you can see I got a few miles in as well as some useful climbing practice, can't wait for next week.