Thursday, 4 September 2014

Control

I spent most of yesterday struggling. Over analyzing and doubting. Afraid. When I get like that I start to look for confirmation that things are bad. When I left the office I said goodbye to someone. They didn't look up and issued a muffled "umnyeugh" that's what it sounded like anyway. Then I thought "That's it! People barely notice me I'm going to get fired I need a new job."
That swam in my head the whole way home. By the time I got there I was grumpy. I got an email from the school. The boy had been back for a day and a half and had to be issued a behaviour warning for talking during class.
"See things ARE out of control." Walking back after collecting the littler one I intervened to keep him from stepping in dog shit. In doing so my handlebars got stuck in an overgrown hedge and spun catching me in the erm...coin purse.
Let's recap. Work is underwhelming. Child misbehaving, people letting their dog crap on the sidewalk OPPOSITE the dickhead that can't trim a hedge...sore coin purse.
By the time I got home I was foul. I banned the older one from going to hockey practice so I quickly ate and set off with the smaller one.
Waiting for the bus. Watching the people run by in the park. Cars in the street, hockey bags by my feet I suddenly felt this sense of small. It was liberating to say the least. 
None of it mattered. 
The sun in the sky.
The clouds.
The earth spinning around our star all of it hurtling through space and there is no amount of dog shit, lame colleagues or sore balls in the world that matter. Just ride the ride. Control? 
I never had it and I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dropped



I watched you slide away
Through salty eyes that stung
I'd have cursed...
Could 
Not
Produce 
A
Sound

Go ahead
I’ll ride with regret
I'm teammates with regret
When 
Can’t
Hang

On



Saturday, 24 August 2013

Yankee Doodle Dandy Highwayman

Adam Ant WAS the Dandy Highwayman. 

He isn't so dandy these days but the term "Dandy" as in Yankee Doodle Dandy is...well, according to wiki...

"A dandy (also known as a beau or gallant) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self. Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic lifestyle despite coming from a middle-class background." Dandy on Wiki



Isn't that a hipster?

Dandy?

Well, if the cloak fits...

The song Yankee Doodle Dandy... was a swipe at the new rich in the US for being bumpkins. "Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni..." was not about pasta. Macaroni Style on wiki 
Don't get upset. 
This is a good thing. 

I like to think that no self respecting Yank would wear this shit...

If you need a stick to put on a hat you're doing it wrong

Dressing nice, speaking well and exercising shouldn't be alternative pursuits of some subculture. 
Why shouldn't we all aspire to these things? 
To make an effort.
To add romance to our wardrobes.
Make our bodies fit for purpose. 

Dandyisim in the fitness community  

"You can't turn up for a group run in THOSE shoes. They will write pasta songs about you." 

North Face have turned into a global clothing powerhouse by embracing the spirit of the dandy. Pursuit of leisurely hobbies... erm, fashion.

Where are you going? Everest?
Nope. PTA meeting.

Rapha in the cycling community have based their whole empire on dandy. Its all about lifestyle, style and image and not so much about hard graft. Now, as the kit makers for Team Sky, they have pro status but I would bet my monocle and cape that all the other teams think they are a bunch of dandy highwaymen.

And just what is wrong with that?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Support Your Local Bike Shop

Placid Planet Bikes, Lake Placid, NY
When I was growing up everyone I hung out with spent half the summer milling around Recreational Vehicles and Equipment in Fairport, NY. site here


Despite the incredibly misleading name...it's a bike shop. Howard and his staff were always helpful and put up with our bazillion questions. It was and is a hub for a like minded community. I still think of it fondly today. If its a skate shop, ski shop, bike shop, hobby shop whatever; these kind of locally owned shops are not only valuable to the local enthusiast but also incredibly important to the local community.

I seek them out on vacations. Last year when we were on a ski trip in Lake Placid, the people at Placid Planet bike shop were very helpful and knowledgeable. It's comforting to know that if you are passionate about something, like minded people are lurking in just about every local bike shop. They might be a little harder to find than the big chain shops but they are there for you to discover. 

Local bike shops or LBS's don't just sell bikes. They organise events, run classes, clubs and can offer a pretty educated opinion on just about ANYTHING.

These days my LBS is De Vere Cycles in South London. site here

Maurice Burton
I really lucked out with this one. It is run by former British Champion and pro Maurice Burton and his family. Great bio of him here...Maurice Burton  Facebook page here...Team De Ver Cycles

I went to see him yesterday with my son Oliver. I had been putting together a bike and without boring you I messed it up.

I carried the thing through the door to his shop and Maurice walked out shaking his head like "What have you done...".
I explained what I TRIED to do and he explained in very nice terms that I was an idiot and should have come to him first BUT they could sort it out.

He showed us some Cervelo frames that had just come in and explained the carbon fibre process at Time bikes in Lyon, France where he'd been to the factory.

Maurice is a champion. His posters and photos are on the walls and the place is half high end bike shop and half museum. His son Germain is also a British champion and blossoming into a very accomplished rider in his own right...Germain Here
 

Germain Burton wins the Bec Hill Climb at just 16 years old

This isn't just a bike shop. It's a community. Besides that, for someone like me its heaven. Having Olly with me (who has said he wants to take up road cycling) to be able to bend the ear of a man who is raising a family of cyclists it is pretty special.  De Ver also has a club that does weekly rides and the usual club shenanigans. They also organise a training camp in Lanzarote in the spring every year for some valuable winter training and what looks to be a lot of laughing.

I feel really blessed to have De Ver Cycles on my doorstep just as I did RV&E when I was growing up. These types of shops ARE the community.  I am very proud to call them "my bike shop".


Sunday, 30 December 2012

A Load of Old Cobblers

Cobbles - Flanders



Shortened from cobbler’s awls, for balls (testicles or nonsense)
Noun
cobblers

The Tour of Flanders has been a bike race for 99 years. The 100th anniversary of the event will be the 2013 edition at the end of March this year. It is 256km long or 160 miles. Most of the first 110km or so is flatish.I've signed up to do the thing as a challenge. The day before the real bike riders do it.
How do you train for this nonsense?
It is longer than any event I've done. The weather will be...well, never mind the weather. I've never done an event that was actually perfect weather. Forget the weather.
The cobbles? Who the hell has access to cobbles to train on? Why would you if you could? I don't think I could afford the money for inner tubes.
Muddy, long and bumpy.
BUT
The history of the event and the atmosphere are something I want to experience first hand. I want to ride on the roads, see the places and the people that make up this monumental classic.
It will be silly hard but I guess that is the point!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Reasons To Be Thankful

This year is not quite over but it has provided a few years worth of momentous occasions already. There is an old Chinese curse that says "May you live in interesting times". Thanks for that.
This year has had a few. I'm just going to list them because I don't want to ramble and leave anything out.

My reasons to be thankful in 2012...in no particular order:

My health - I set my self a big challenge this year to get on the bike with purpose and do the Etape, a stage of the Tour de France. Not just any stage, the Circle of Death. 200km and 22,523 feet of climbing. One day in July saw this become a reality. After 10 hours and 7,000 calories (7 months and 3,000 miles of training). It has given me a such a lift and renewed my sense of wonder that regular people can do amazing things. The French people on those cold mountain tops in the Pyrenees to give us encouragement will stick with me forever. For that I am thankful.

Mont Ventoux - part of a great year on the bike
Job - These are interesting times. I've seen colleagues come and go over the years. I know a business is a business and I am thankful to be able to contribute. 

Family - I have a wonderful family. They drive me crazy and I love them for it. I never know what to expect with them and it has made my life what it is today to be a part of theirs. I miss my family in the US and the contact I have with them although limited, is very precious. I am thankful.




Friends - I had some tough times this year. Most recently, I got knocked out cold by a van while riding a bike home on Halloween. Fortunately our friends stepped in to help with the kids, collecting the bike and support. Even friends on the other side of the Atlantic and around the world. When people reach out to you when something bad happens it says so much. I really appreciate all the kind words and support. I feel that this incident, like no other I can remember, has made me truly grateful to be sharing this planet with so many wonderful people. Thank you.



The Olympics - The city we live in had the Olympics this year. I signed up to volunteer a billion years ago and was accepted to do the road cycling events. These were just two weeks after my bike ride in France so I didn't have much time to think about it. First day of the Olympics, first medal event, Mens Road Race. I was on a road crew outside Leatherhead (of all places) train station. The people of the town were excited, we were excited but nothing could prepare me for what would happen. Seeing the train loads of people walking down from the platform in all their national colors, Belgians, Americans, French, German, Russians, Brazilians...I almost cried. All these people from all over the world came to watch the Olympics in the city we call home these days. Today, on these roads and over Box Hill and Richmond Park where I have ridden so many miles was just amazing. Once in a lifetime experience. For that I am thankful.

Our road crew

Mens Road Race

Bradley Wiggins - I couldn't mention The Tour and the Olympics without mentioning Wiggo. In a time when champions are likely to be cheaters, it's heartwarming to see someone dedicate themselves to a goal. Inspired no doubt by a horrible father he grew up in London to go on to take international cycling and make it his own. Olympic track, road racing, Olympic road racing. 2012 was a good year for Bradley Wiggins and he has helped put cycling in the news for all the right reasons. Thank you.

Sir Brad

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Back to life, back to the new reality


I've been healing and fixing and everything functions to a point.

Imagine if you didn't have to train to be able to ride for long distances. Anyone could just jump on a bike and go fast. No soreness or fatigue. Just boogie wonderland. OK, this isn't Washington or Colorado so I'll stop with the pot smoking questions.

You can't. You train to perform. The events are the moments of truth where you display that training.

There are setbacks. Injuries, vacations...extended periods where there are no hours to train. I find it the hardest to train right after one of these. Mentally, I can remember what it feels like but because it hasn't been part of the immediate routine, the impetus goes. I find it the hardest to actually put a leg over the bike. That is harder than the ensuing ride. Once that is broken I know the rest will only be a matter of time.

Normally.

The one good thing about being knocked out by the white van a couple of weeks ago is I have no recollection whatsoever of the incident. The way I see it is if I'm going to do all these miles on roads used by things with engines, sooner or latter my card will get punched. I got off kinda light. No recollection = no fear. I can imagine it would be different if I saw the thing coming at me. Every time I went out I'd have long, drawn out sequences rattling around in my brain of white vans being driven by blood soaked clowns coming at me.

Alas, I have none.

The first time out after time off is tricky. It's also about learning where I'm at. Mentally, I can remember the numbers I should be able to produce. I can't hit those numbers right now.
That is OK.
There is also some scars and aches to deal with but fortunately I'm mechanically sound. I can function. I wish sometimes I had a sports shrink to talk to about getting cracked up. A lot of bike riding is pushing to see how far/fast you can go. Being reserved can't be part of it. I guess I feel a little tentative but it is still early days.

My bike works but it does not feel like my bike. It pulls to one side. My teeth hurt and they have moved a little. These are constant reminders.

The new reality.