Saturday, 31 January 2009

A Pendulum Week

Things have either gone my way or they haven't this week. Monday couldn't have been better, everything fell into place with the perfect ease expected from life. Having a working bathroom makes life a hundred times easier - a day at work, back home on the turbo trainer for half an hour, jumped in the shower, cooked a hearty homemade meal whilst supping a glass of fruity red and settled down to answer a few emails and watch a bit of television. Life is good.

My perfectly effortless world was brought crashing down as quickly as I was Tuesday morning - yards from my front door I slid on a patch of black ice. One minute I was happily rolling down the hill towards the station on my folding bike, the next I was lying on the cold, hard road looking up into the foggy darkness somewhat unsure of what had just happened. I'd ripped a large hole in the left knee of my trousers and the right elbow of my coat. I returned to my house, changed my clothes, cleaned up the blood trickling down my leg, patched up the missing chunk out of my knee and set off once more - making it to the train station just in time to see my train leaving the platform. The next train was 15 minutes late. As was I.

The day improved but when I arrived home I still felt nauseous so relaxed and had an early night instead of going for a ride. Wednesday was long and boring and by the time I left work I was thoroughly fed up again. When I got home and opened my post I had a fine for not paying my congestion charge last week, £60. Thursday was also long and boring but spirits were slightly improved and the day went without incident. Things were looking up again.

On Friday I regained my cycling mojo - this had disappeared sometime just before Christmas. I had an excellent morning ride on my usual road loop; everything just seemed to click and I was happyily spinning along for a couple of hours, enjoying every freezing moment. Then my train was delayed, again (I'm going to have to stop writing about that as you can almost take it as a given these days) and work was chaos from the minute I started to the minute I finished. I didn't even have time to eat dinner! It was a relief to finally get home knowing I had the morning to myself.

I intended to pop out for another ride this morning, but I woke up with the tell tale signs of the beginnings of a cold due to being worn down, so instead I made a nice breakfast, some fresh coffee and planned a new route for my next ride. I was late for work (you know why...)

Monday, 19 January 2009

Gun For A Day...

just one day a month, that's all I'd want. Just a license to kill with a gun for one day... a month. And the world would be a better place by Summer. Why the outrageous statement you ask? This morning riding through London from work to the train station traffic was heavy. There were lots of buses in the bus lane so I was between them and normal moving traffic. I had two red lights on the rear, I was wearing high viz and reflective clothing. I had stopped at every red light and pedestrian crossing. I was going about my business according to the highway code.

The particular section of road I was on was full of nasty pot holes so I was giving the buses a wide berth. Then some idiot in a private hire cab decided he wanted to squeeze between me and the next lane of traffic - promptly clouting me with his wing mirror and knocking me into the fortunately stationery bus!

The lights at the next junction were red so I pulled up alongside the car and knocked on the passenger side window. He opened it up with a smirk on his face. "Excuse me, do you want to watch where you're going a bit more, you've just hit me with your wing mirror" I said. "Lucky I didn't 'it ya wiv somefin else then innit" he screached at me in an annoying, high pitched, '40-a-day', cockney accent. What sort of bloody response is that?! Obviously he was disappointed he'd only clipped me and was trying to kill me instead. "Are you fucking stupid?" I shouted back and rode on my way.

Who knows what his passengers in the back of the car were thinking, but it's not a car I would have liked to have been in for any length of time. I still don't understand his response - what an idiot. What was it supposed to mean? Understandably I was fuming! Mainly because there was nothing I could do to stop this fool driving dangerously through the streets of London with no regard whatsoever for cyclists! It's people like him that kill cyclists.

That's why I want to get in first. If this had been the day, I'd have quite happily pulled up alongside the car and shot him in the head. Idiots like that are better off dead, at least they can't do any damage to others that way. Shooting him was my first thought as I pulled up alongside. After he'd made the ridiculous remark I wanted to drag him from his car buy his scraggily, curly hair and beat the living daylights out of him with my bare hands - that would have been more satisfying. Apparently violence doesn't solve anything, but I'm sure in this case violence would have stopped the possibility of future injury to cyclists.

It took me the whole train journey to calm down. After that the day improved - which is fairly easy after that kind of start. I'm particularly looking forward to a relaxing hot bath in my oh-so-nearly-finished bathroom. And this glass of wine, my first sip in over a week, is tasting particularly good. There are some perks to working a week of night shift - for a while everything you do is just so much more enjoyable!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Things You Do

It's been an interesting couple of weeks with lots happening and more than once I have found myself pausing for a second just to get a complete picture of the situation I had found myself in.

For any readers of Tales from the Rock you'll know there was a minor vehicular incident last Tuesday - full story and embarassing phots on Tony's blog here. 'Drive Carefully!', yeah thanks Tony. It's the first time I've ever got my car stuck in 10 years of driving, and I was lucky I didn't hit the power lines! Despite this setback I still managed to get to the meeting with Welsh Cycling on time and all went well.

So it's Tuesday 6th of January and whilst most people are settling themselves back into their warm work places after the Christmas break, I spend the day wandering through pathless woodland in the Brecon Beacons scouting out the venue for the Cycling Festival. The temperature was still below freezing but I still managed to get excited at the prospect of what this forest may hold - the stunning scenery, snow capped hills, bright blue sky and crisp sunshine also played a part in the random giggles of joy.

Now, my friend Paul had driven us over to Crickhowell as I wasn't too happy with the state of my tyres after the incident earlier that morning. Leaving the estate we decided to pop down one of the lanes just to familiarise ourselves with the lie of the land a bit more. Up the hill and round the bend and the road opened out into a huge green field with a large house at the top. It was at this point Paul decided to stop and turn his van round. He began his 3 point turn in the narrowest part of the road next to the steepest part of the verge and no sooner had he completed point two of his turn, he found the van wedged between a fence and the grass verge. Half an hour later, in the freezing cold, dark evening, one of the estate workers used his Land Rover to drag the van out, sideways, down the road. It's the first time Paul's ever got his van stuck in 20 years of driving.

Back to my car and I faced the long drive home across the Cotswolds. Any of you that read this blog regularly will know I'm a great believer in 'signs' and listening to what the universe is trying to tell me. The A40 across the Cotswolds is twisty and dangerous at the best of times, with this cold snap who knows what condition it would be in. I didn't have to wait until I got to the A40; I got just past Ross-on-Wye on the dual carriageway and approaching the roundabout passed an accident on the other side of the road. 'Oh dear', I thought, and as I finished that thought the car took a rather skewed angle at which to leave the roundabout. Aha, black ice. I see. Heart pounding I put the three incidents of the day together and decided to meander slowly and carefully home that night, barely reaching the speed limit at any point. Home safe and sound once more; ready to spend another day in the middle of the countryside in the freezing cold, wind and rain. Oh the glamour.