Singlespeed bikes, Japan, getting out of Streatham, trying not to bang on about multiple sclerosis

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Get on your bikes and ride!

Never on a Sunday? Au contraire! This is the one day of the week when the arsehole petrolheads don't get on the road till lunchtime. I had decided that one big limiting factor on the bank holiday had been an aerodynamic matter: with the hair on, and the beard getting bushy, I'd have to work way too hard. And the weather didn't look promising. Why not stay in bed?

But I took care of all that, with a brutalising haircut and an almost complete de-bearding. This morning, with an espresso and a bowl of cornflakes (the kidney-shattering Crunchy Nut variety) inside me, all I needed to propel me on my way was a camera-wielding Sachiko to get me on to my iron horse, or steel steed, or however you want to refer to a non-aluminium bike:

That's the finest cycling apparel, such as I used to don ever morning for the ride from the top of Streatham Common to Farringdon. The Solo jacket! The Etxeondo gloves! The Sidi Dominator shoes! And under them, the DeFeet socks! Damn, but I was dressed to impress. Was I up to it?

A bit shaky. Left cleat a bit out of whack. Heel brushing frame, not a good thing at all. But a little practice can improve such things.

Knuckles white under the blue glove, I readied myself for takeoff at the only red light at which I'd had to come to a complete stop after an epic 5km. Only a few hundred yards left till home, and the thrill was evident:

Well no, it wasn't, but I was a happy bunny, and an exhausted one too. Next weekend, if the weather cooperates, ought to feature the same deal but with a much longer ride. Could the 10km barrier be broken? And with the computer showing I've done 9,400km on this bike, almost all of it in the 18 months before my big relapse in 2006, will I get it past 10,000 before the end of next year?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Best laid plans...

....of mice and men gang aft agley, or something similar. But this plan wasn't well-laid at all, beyond the route side of things. On a British bank holiday Monday, rain is pretty much guaranteed, but I put my trust in the ever-fickle BBC, who suggested it would be a bit cloudy, but nothing more. Alas. Of course, the clouds were there for one reason only.

But all is not lost. For tomorrow should start off OK, and therefore the epic ride may yet take place. And all the while my (unprotected) head will be filled with thoughts of the needlessness of helmets and the "safety" culture foisted on us by the car manufacturers, who bear ultimate responsiblity for all deaths on the road.

Into the abyss

I'm sitting at my desk, half an hour shy of noon on a super-patriotic Monday: since I subscribe to George Bernard Shaw's view that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, it should be obvious that I have no interest at all in the fact that the queen has done the best part of 60 years as an unelected head of state.

So enough republicanism. Others can do it better. What I actually want to get down is this link, which I lifted from a comment on the exalted Bike Snob NYC blog. - it's a speech from the TED gathering (and guess what? I have no idea what TED even stands for) that does an excellent job of debunking the myth of  the mortal danger of riding a bike, as put about by the forces of darkness (the car manufacturers), who have led us all to believe that you can't ride a  bike without a helment. Yeah, helment. Ask the Snob.

So I'm shortly about to get on my trusty steel steed,  which has been gathering dust in a shed for a goodly while, with the intention of riding it for several miles - which is to say, several times as far as the last time I rode it. I'm still 300km short of the 10,000km I was heading for on this bike in 2006, when my riding career took a vicious kick in the nuts from MS, and hasn't really gone far since. This being a pleasantly sunny day, and cool, and a bank holiday to boot, the motor traffic ought to be very light, and perhaps less perilous than usual, though of course the holiday driver is a notorious peril. I reckon a modest little anticlockwise circuit, going down to Uxbridge Road, along to Shepherd's Bush and turning left onto Wood Lane, up that over the Westway (or rather, under it) to turn left into Du Cane Road, which cruises along to Old Oak Common Lane, off which Hemlock Road takes me most of the way home. Not just me, but Sachiko too. This being a bravely unhelmented venture, I think I really ought to post as soon as I get back. Could be a few hours, because Sachiko is keen on lunch, and who's to say that some fuel wouldn't be a good thing?

Cars suck. Thatcher extolled the "great car-owning democracy," and she also thought the poll tax was a good idea. Enough of words. I've pumped the tyres, there's food to get to grips with, and the open road is beckoning. In Arnie's words: I'll be Bach.