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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Penny (Thieving) Farthing

This weekend the clocks went back, which signalled the start of what I would call true winter.
It is a time when everything to do with cycling become more arduous and less pleasurable.
A time when even the pros have some time off before moving to the Southern Hemisphere for the start of next season.

As a velo commuter, cycling at this time of year it is even worse.
The weather at 5.30 am is often very different from that at 3.00 pm which is no more contrasting than with temperature.
When leaving work people sarcastically ask 'If I am going to be warm enough' when the only flesh I have exposed to the elements is the part of my face used for seeing and communicating.

You need to become an expert in logistics and grasp a full understanding of  meteorology.
Learning to read the body language of the weather forecaster is also useful.
Experience has told me the more they smile, the more likely they are to be lying or something bad  is on the way.
They don't like the mundane, the more dramatic the weather is the happier they are.

Cycling with the added weight of multiple layers, cycle boots, wet roads and my winter bike, getting any 'Personal Records' on Strava is a pipe dream, something that I cant even consider until blossoms forms on the 2014 trees.
The notable exception may come with Northerly Gales.
With my coat unzipped and held out like a fluorescent spinnaker and standing high on the pedals there is always an outside chance.

Its ironic that during the Summer I am totally focused about pedaling as fast as I can.
All of my attention is on the ride.
Now winter is here, my commuting is just about getting to work.
The ride is rarely enjoyable, but a means to an end.
It does however give me the opportunity to think

This year there are far more winter cyclists with grim faces - partially hidden by wool and gortex
I ask myself why? Is it any wonder!

With the government doing there very best to ensure that the fuel companies get every penny they can from us - the recession still bites.
It provides many with a feeling of financial oppression and discrimination.
A feeling that your very soul is up for grabs.

Household fuel and petrol prices cripple household budgets.
Rents rents remain significantly higher than mortgages and now rise further in line with property inflation.
This is heralded as the start of 'our' financial recovery.
Recovery for who......shareholders, bankers and landlords who are seemingly the new power brokers.

Our next generation remain ignored, in a perpetual sense of despair with no hope of ever owning their own home.
Whilst the rich employee tax avoidance specialists pushing any revenue possibilities into the 'Too hard to do tray' the Treasury is forced to look elsewhere to try and balance the books.
To follow the route of least resistance and hammer the rest of us.

Thankfully pedal power is non taxable.
I like many other victims of government cut backs and pay freezes am forced to ask the same question each morning 'Is there any good reason why I cant cycle'
With free travel and the availability of a free hot shower at work its hard to argue against.

The act, when completed feels like a double bonus, like I am redressing the balance in some way.

I remind myself that winter miles count double and try not to think that the world is conspiring against me. Its not always easy.

On Friday in a rare commute by car, I got caught up in evening Traffic.........Literally.
Whilst stationary, and contemplating the pros and cons of a triple or compact chain set,
I got smashed from behind ending my relationship with four wheels and stopping my winter training.

Today, In order to exact a further squeeze on me I was called by a government official who suggested that my blog 'Travels with my Mule' might be considered as a source of revenue to seize.

Frankly Its quite pitiful

Hopefully Cycling, like the freedom of Speech, and Expression will continue to be Free.
Where two wheeled anarchists can continue to write and pedal.
Leaving their trail of literary commissions scattered in the wind.

I did write a poem recently and welcome any offers to provide me with some additional revenue for interested parties.

Ode to Winter Cycling

Double layers, boots and raincoat,
Goodbye to that lovely summer,
Wet roads, wind and darkness greets,
And that ice cold puddle enema....

150 days and counting
Of chill brains on my toes
Of recharging my illuminations
And drying my sodden clothes

I wish I was in Texas
With the sun still on my back
Riding in bib shorts all year round
And the option of a cowboy hat


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