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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tidings of comfort and Joy

I received this Christmas offering from Ed Thompson who is a reader of my blogsite.
Ed works for freshnetworks who have produced something quite spectacular.

Anyway I will let them continue the story.

'At this time of year, what better excuse to get people out of the FreshNetworks office than a synchronised cycle ride round central London dressed as Father Christmas? And all for no reason whatsoever, apart from the fun of it.

Tourists thought we were delightful, cabbies called us a menace and the police tracked our every move – convinced that, at any moment, we might start a student protest.

With mince pies in our bellies and iPhones strapped to our Boris Bikes we tweeted all the way to Buckingham Palace. Arriving just in time to catch Prince Philip who stopped his car to ask what we were up to and to wish us a Merry Christmas all round.

Thank you Barclays and thank you Boris. We love your bikes. And thanks to Asylum Films (our favourite London production company) for making the movie.

Cheers you all at freshnetworks

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I want for Christmas ............

As the winter weather continues to keep us locked in its frozen jaws, I have finally conceded defeat in my attempt to cycle 6,000 miles this year.
Even if the snow and ice were to miraculously disappear, I would still need to seek further divine intervention to rid me of my current 'medical affliction', before I could remount my two wheeled steed. Fortunately I have gratefully avoided winter bugs and colds for some years now.
I find it frustrating when work colleagues feel they need to stay at home every time they are forced to buy some tissues.
You would not get that from me !!!!!!
I would literally have to be at deaths door with the old 'grim reaper' the other side pretending to be delivering some late Christmas post.

......... when I have had to take time off my ailments have been far more serious.
For the past two years I have obviously had pneumonia but still went in. Alas this year I am sure that I must have swine flu which I cant beat off.
It has probably lay dormant in me since my visit to Texas where it had blown over from Mexico and lodged itself in my cycle helmet. There is no other rationale explanation.

Thankfully tomorrow sees the arrival of the winter Solstice or the shortest day of the year.
After that the days get longer, each one after the another and boy will I be counting.

The actual celebration of the winter Solstice is seen as more important than the Summer one as if if effectively the start of natures 'cycle' - I knew Id get the word cycle in somewhere.

The Saami, indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, worship Beiwe, the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity. She travels through the sky in a structure made of reindeer bones with her daughter, Beiwe-Neia, to herald back the greenery on which the reindeer feed.

On the winter solstice, her worshipers sacrifice white female animals, and thread the meat onto sticks which they bend into rings and tie with bright ribbons. They also cover their doorposts with butter so Beiwe can eat it and begin her journey once again.

All I can say is that its a good job Beiwe and Santa travel on separate nights as things could get a bit messy.
Anyway on to the more serious stuff . If I cant cycle at the very least I can think about cycling and more importantly next years events.

This year will see some new events I and The Mules will be completing.

June 6-8th 2011 Inclusive.
Morecombe to Bridlington following the Roses Way from the west to the East Coast of England.

26th June 2011
Flat out in the Fens -112 mile Sportive across eastern England.

9pm 9pm Friday/Sat 8th/9th July 2011
Charity 24 hr challenge for 'Help for Heros' cycling for 24 hrs with a prise for the sponsor who selects the correct mileage for the event.
We have decided to organise this ourselves around East Yorkshire.

27th August 2011
Anglo Mules trip to USA where Karen and Simon will be joining Joanne and I in competing in the 30th Anniversary of Hotter than Hell 100 miles Sportive.

4th September 2011
Manchester 100 mile sportive.

Now all I want for Christmas is lots of Cycling gear, a tape worm to lodge in my digestive system for a couple of months and the temperature to get above freezing on Christmas morning !!!!!!

I dont ask for much...........................

Merry Christmas to all readers , see you on the Road.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bah Humbug - not me

As the early winter grips with its icicle teeth, cycling is now forced from my attention.
Even the prospect of 'spinning' has now been taken away from me.

The snow piled up so high on my local leisure centre that it brought down part of the roof - forcing it to close along with its classes.
Initially this was a big blow

Cycling for me is a bit of an obsession, but to be fair it is also much more than that.
I love commuting by bike and the feeling that it gives me. To know that with each mile I save 'x' amount of pence in petrol and also provide society with a moving billboard.
Showing that travelling by car does not have to be the conventional way to travel.

I love exploring my beautiful countryside at a pace that is quick enough to keep my interest yet slow enough to absorb what is visually on offer.

I love being a 'Mule' as part of the Travels with my Mule cycling team. I love the camaraderie of team work, competing and riding amongst large groups of other like minded people.

Today I ventured into town by foot.
As a cyclist I have always been able to relate to the expression 'Its just like riding a bike' but now I was ironically applying this to the prosess of walking.
A bit like Bambi in that early Disney production, I could have been mistaken for somebody that had already tucked into to the Sloe gin.
I was dressed in multiple layers of warm clothing and wearing boots with grips like tractor treads.
The pavements were thick with ice from old grey snow.
Snow that had tried in vain to thaw only to be crystallised during the night offering a morning 'slip up'.
My lack of cycling was making me heavy, both in mind and body and my progress was laboured.

My hometown Beverley is a pretty place, with traffic excluded from its main thoroughfare which leads between two market areas. Wednesday Market and Saturday Market.
As I followed this course I was entertained by brass bands playing Christmas Carols.

I have always associated brass bands with my native Yorkshire and when they play Carols it gives me goose bumps. Through emotion rather than the wind that is blown into the assorted instruments.

The street was filled with Christmas shoppers creating a sea of assorted bobbing winters hats and joyous faces. Children delirious with expectation, mothers anxious with anticipation and fathers weary with frustration and of getting their wallets out.

The air was filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts and Cinnamon and shimmering with festive cheer.
As I tapped my foot to the deep sound of the Tuba player and mouthed the words to the carol, I smiled and my mood instantly lifted.
You see there are some days in the year for cycling, some days for resting from cycling, but there should also be days when you should just take it all in.

Advent seems to fit this bill

Sunday, November 28, 2010

sNOw go

Early winter has gripped much of UK including East Yorkshire.........meaning the bike stays in the shed and the feet are used instead

Managed to get out on Friday before things got too White !!!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Riding in the Dark

The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light.

Lord Byron

For weeks now I have been getting up in the dark, cycling to work in the dark only to return in the dark. When I started this winter comuting, it all seemed a bit of a novelty but as the days have got shorter its becoming a real test.
To make matters worse the black cloak that comes with the setting sun has definitely got darker.

I am fine with the dark....honest but am not too keen on the four miles stretch along an isolated country lane.
Its amazing how your imagination plays games with you.
Although I am certain that the rustle I heard in the undergrowth is only a rabbit, once my imagination has processed it I am off...........

Pedaling as fast as my legs will pump into the darkness in certain belief that there is some cycle chomping goblin chasing me.
The other thing that gets me is when a cars headlights suddenly illuminate the road in front of me.
I either count the seconds until I believe he will undoubtedly hit me from behind or look into the illuminated area ahead for mad axe man that has just escaped from the sanatorium.
Both scenarios show a spike of my heart rate on my 'post cycle' Garmin reading.

To try and combat my nocturnal fears I have bought some more lights.
I now have several.
Helmet - front and rear lights
Coat - front and rear lights
Handlebars -Light shining straight ahead and light shining onto kerb ahead of me.
Two rear lights and LED lights strapped on my ankles.

I guess If I do get knocked over the driver will say 'He was blinded by the lights'

As I write about darkness I am reminded about a different darkness that often fills peoples lives.
The darkness associated with bereavement, separation, illness and poverty.

One of our Mules Taylor Bartholemew has had such a darkness which hangs like a shadow over her

At the age of 3 1/2 she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common type of leukemia in children under the age of 15, and progresses rapidly, affecting immature white blood cells (lymphocytes).

When she was sick, her doctor performed immediate injections into her spinal column, which were coupled with blood transfusions from her mother as the donor to replace the damaged blood. She spent weeks in isolation in hospital and then several months in isolation at home as her immune system had been destroyed.
After two years of oral and intravenous medications, and weekly blood tests, she had completed her treatment.
By the age of 5, she beat ALL (just in time to start kindergarten BALD!!)

She is now in her TWENTY SECOND year of remission!!! and is as fit as a butchers dog.
She is a regular rider of the Travels with my Mule Team but also rides for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (TNT) Charity.

She is an inspiration to many myself included and it makes getting up in the dark all the more easier.

Next year she plans to complete a 100 miles sportive around Lake Tahoe to raise money for TNT.
We (Mule Team) all think she is an absolute star.

If you want to support her for this event follow this link = Taylor

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Answer my friend is blowing in the Wind

The last few weeks have seen little activity in the rotation of my bicycle wheels however there has been some movement in my waistline which is starting to develop its own circular shape.
If I dont apply the brakes soon i will have my own unique tubular shape.
The lack of cycling has had nothing to do with dedication but more to do with climate.

Each day I watch the weather forecast and despair.
Nature seems to be in some sort of competition with itself to blow all of the leaves off the trees in record time.

I don't mind cycling in the Rain and there has been plenty of that. Nor do I mind cycling in the wind within reason.
1-20 mph not a second thought
20-25 mph without rain I'm still on board
but 30 mph + in the dark is no fun, and fool hardy.

This past week we have had 30-60 mph winds all week with heavy rain.

If that is not bad enough, amongst the precipitation there is an assortment of deciduous offerings.

Do you know a wind blown Horse chestnut leaf can cover your whole face and resemble the texture of a flying bat.

Having said all that I have not been a total wimp.
Last week I actually did 130 miles.

On one of the mornings I set off to work in the dark accompanied by a work colleague Anne.
She managed to get a puncture about a mile from work.
Coyly she looked at me proclaiming that she did not know how to rectify the problem.
Her excuse being that she never cycles alone and would rely on her cycle partner husband to 'sort it out' .
Although she had a spare inner tube, she had no tools.

I arrogantly proclaimed that I my pit stop procedure was akin to that of the Formula 1 Red Bull team and that we would be cycling again in the same time that it might take to apply some lipstick.

My ego was soon as deflated as the tyre, when I realised that my own tools were on my road bike. This particular bike being cosily resting at home.

It was then that natures rejects came to my aid.
Looking for divine inspiration I spied a couple of well shaped twigs which along with a ten pence piece was able to be used to strip the offending tyre from its wheel.

For my gallant efforts I was later presented with a fine bottle of 'Chateaux neuf de pape' from Anne.

It came as no surprise that on subsequent journeys I endeavoured to lead Anne over the toughest terrain praying for further punctures.

Although the weekdays weather has been poor the weekend has been great and I have managed to get out and record the rusty scenery.