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.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

'sbeen a while

Christ on a bike, why do I never write anything? Could it be related to never actually doing anything worth writing down? Well yes, it could, and indeed it is; but having said that, I did actually get out on my glorious On One Il Pompino today, and rode - well, a mile. But I hadn't ridden it for a couple of years before that, and it felt wonderful. All I need to make me feel even more wonderful is to have someone write a comment, having been directed here from my witless posts on Bike Snob NYC's blog. Now that's a real blog, by a genuinely interesting guy who gets out and does interesting stuff. I am not the same, but I have a whining excuse.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fuck this noise

Five years have rolled by, and I've done nothing of interest to anyone except me. And I didn't find it actually interesting, except when that pudgy oaf Natasha was fired, and later her evil friend Shameem was encouraged to leave, but only after she'd tried to get me fired. You know what? I'm tired. I'm going to rewrite this nonsense tomorrow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Despair? Maybe later, kids

Oral steroids don't seem to have delivered the euphoria I had from the IV version, and they haven't fixed my eyesight yet either, though it may be slightly better than it was at the start of the week. But unlike a lot of other people dealing with this or similar debilitating illnesses, I have the good fortune to work for an organisation of committed do-gooders, who walk the walk as well as talking the talk. Right up to senior management they're eager to have me back on board, and to do everything possible to make my life easy. It would be easy to kid myself that my talents are unique, that no one else can really do the job I do (and to be honest I tend to think that way when I read some of the stuff my colleagues let through the net) but that's the sort of conceited bastard I am; it's the flip side of deep-seated insecurity.)

One of the drawbacks of physical incapacity is that you don't get to do anything worth writing about. Tales of decrepitude don't make for jolly reading, even when you're writing them yourself. And in a sort of Keynesian economy, I'm providing both the words and the reader. Why use two people when one will do?

The photo, taken while we were in Fukuoka in November, shows Honoka, a three-year-old thug, daughter of Sachiko's friend Kazuko. Hono-chan, who regularly beats on her older brother Airu (An-kun) is making cute in this picture, dressed as some kind of French maid. But she's there to illustrate the fact that I don't want any children of my own, and Sachiko doesn't either, which is convenient. I guess I'm afraid that if I had children I'd probably screw them up even worse than my father did me and my brothers. He was a high-powered child psychiatrist, so you'd think he'd have hit the ground running, but if you saw the way the three of us have turned out you'd realise your mistake. And the knowledge that he was trying to do the very best he could, and his continuing vast generosity, make my ungratefulness even more ridiculous than it is anyway. But if you want to be your own person, to be free, it's not actually reassuring to know that if things ever get bad, he'll try to rescue me. Hell, when I got stuck in Cambodia in the civil war back in June '97, I managed to call home from Bert's Books in Phnom Penh, on the last international line that was still open, to say that I was fine, no cause for concern, the road to Saigon would be secured in a few days and then I'd get out. I'd assumed that these reassurances had hit the spot, and they were all true, but I found out about a year after I got back to the UK that my father's immediate reaction was to try to get on a plane to Cambodia to get me out. Thankfully he was held up by the fact that he didn't have a passport, and also by the suspension of all flights to Cambodia. I kind of like the idea of a senior citizen coming to extract me from a very minor civil war.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the kingdom of the blind

...the one-eyed man is king. This would be just great, if I were in the kingdom of the blind, as I am losing the sight in my left eye. Fortunately it's almost certainly a temporary thing, caused by optic neuritis, an old chum which has toyed with me before. And hurrah, I now have steroids to make it better. As if that weren't enough cause for joy, tomorrow morning I go to see some organisation in London Bridge who will check me over and get back to Amnesty saying how many hours I ought to work. I'm going to pitch for about four hours a day, preferably to be worked from home. By the time I get to the office after that bit of self-demotion, Natasha will be off on a lengthy Christmas holiday, and this can only contribute to my overall wellbeing. Having that moron around has never made me feel good.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Japanese blues

Two weeks in Japan, and according to Sue the Physio this morning I'm walking better than I was before I went, which is cheering, I guess. But how cheery is the overall picture? It's nearly six months since I had my first really big relapse, and as I was getting over that I had another one - so for half a year I've been pretty sedentary, which is not how I like to be. What dominates my thoughts, though, isn't the prospect of never getting on a bike again, but of never straying more than two minutes' travel from a toilet, and also recalibrating my mental scale of how far "two minutes" is to adjust to the stumbling, slow, lopsided gait that I'm developing. You can only piss yourself so many times before you feel the clammy hand of despair. Or maybe it's just the clammy boxer shorts. I've never talked to anyone about it, outside the Wolfson centre, which was full of people in a worse state than I was. You ever been catheterised? Wheeled your chair around with a bag of piss strapped to your calf, that's fed by a tube plumbed into your nob? Neither have I, but there was at least one guy there who was in exactly that state. He never complained.

Anyway, that's me, with my brother Andrew (the blond one) and his girlfriend, Sayaka. They're engaged.