Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Archie passes away

Archie relaxing on Jon's kitchen floor.
I thought I'd make an announcement about my brother Jon's dog Archie, who sadly died this week. He was a 13-year-old Labrador. I admit to not knowing Archie that well, but I remember him as a lovely dog. Jon and his family will miss him and so will their other dog, Bruno.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rain stops...and I ride to Woodmansterne Green

I hesitated quite a bit. I kept looking out the window at the fast-moving clouds travelling east and a puddle that had formed on the roof of next door's conservatory (well, it's probably not a conservatory, but some kind of flat-roofed extension) just to see if there were raindrops hitting the water. I paced around, looked out of the window, then stared at the wardrobe (which contained my cycling stuff) and then, when I noticed that nobody in the house seemed to need me I decided to head out.

Jon and yours truly relaxing on Woodmansterne Green, Sunday
June 24th 2012
First, I called Jon to see if he fancied a ride: he did, then I left the house at 0845 and reached the green at 0920. Jon arrived at 0930.

The weather had brightened up considerably, the ride was good - and much needed. We chatted about dad and how, while we both accepted that he'd gone, it was still pretty strange. I said I have difficulty working out exactly where he is; he's no longer on the planet, so where is he? Does he exist in any form? And of course, there are no answers to such questions. It's all very baffling. The key is to get on with life.

My Kona Scrap, rear brakes fixed and nice and clean too!
Reached home around 1110 feeling a little tired if I'm honest. Only got six hours sleep last night, having sat and watched Stewart Lee on YouTube – he's excellent. I also watched interviews with Will Self and a couple with Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown, not forgetting Morrissey on The One Show.

Hopefully all this on and off weather will cease and we'll start to get a decent summer. The longest day has been and gone and from now on it only gets darker – a metaphor for life if ever there was one.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

...and the rain it keeps on fallin'

Sunday 24 June 2012: I went to bed late last night because I was watching Stewart Lee on YouTube. It was around midnight when I finally hit the sack, but I figured I'd be up early because it was summer and I was looking forward to a ride. Due to poor weather – over here in the UK there is no summer whatsoever – I haven't been out on a ride for over a month.

Rain hitting the birdbath around 7am this morning. It's not going to
improve by 8am so it's looking like an 'abort'. Maybe next week?
Yesterday was a wonderful day and I was up and thinking about going out, but with Andy not going and me loitering around drinking tea, I lost momentum and didn't go. Shame, but I thought tomorrow it would be game on. Andy was back on the scene and all was looking good, but sometime in the dead of night I was awake and I could hear the rain falling heavily outside. I drifted off, safe in the knowledge that by the morning it would be sunny.

How wrong I was! My alarm went off at 6am and it was still pelting down outside. Andy sent a text wondering whether we ought to abort. I texted back saying 'let's see what it's like at 7am' and sure enough, at 7am, it was the same, if not worst. Outside now the skies are grey, the plants in the garden are over-laden with rainwater and the bird bath is choppy. I called Andy and said it was looking decidedly like an 'abort', but that I'd check back again in an hour (at 8am). The weather is so changeable, it could easily be bright and sunny within the next 55 minutes – although I'm guessing it won't be.

Wimbledon starts tomorrow! Cue shots of black umbrellas and the covers going over the courts, not forgetting images of puddles riddled with raindrops and furrowed brows on skyward-looking officials. Let's just hope that Sir Cliff isn't there entertaining the already miserable crowd.

Friday, 22 June 2012

The bike's back home...and I narrowly miss a soaking

The worst thing about having your bike in the repair shop – in my case Halford's on the Purley Way – is that it's miles away from the house and unless I get a lift down there, I've got a long walk ahead of me. Factor in the reality of working all day, leaving only the evening to pick up the bike, and you have one of those situations: you're tired after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is walk all the way to Halford's and then cycle all the way back home.

I badgered my wife for a lift. I told her I would drive down there and get as near as possible, turn the car around and then go and get the bike while she drives back home. Deal. So off we went last night. I picked up the bike and engaged in the usual chat I get whenever my bike has been in the repair shop.

People like the Kona Scrap for a number of reasons: one, it's a great-looking bike; two, it's sturdy and inspiring; and three, it's a Kona Scrap. And then there's the Spongy Wonder – always a conversation starter. So, after chewing the fat with the shop assistant (who thought I was in to dirt jumping – that's a cycling sport and the Kona Scrap is specifically designed for it) I headed outside to face the decidedly unsettled weather.

Remember, I was wearing a suit – fortunately an M&S washable suit – so I did the sensible thing and tucked my right trouser leg into my socks and then headed for home. All the way home it threatened to pour down. The skies were getting blacker by the minute, the wind was picking up and I was convinced that I would take a soaking. Fortunately, though, I didn't. I managed to get all the way home bone dry and now, as I write this, the bike is in the garage, I've just finished watching Graham Norton and I've got to hit the sack. Why? Because I've got to get out on the bike tomorrow – let's hope it doesn't rain.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The bike's ready!

Tuesday 19th June 2012, 1847hrs: Thank the Lord! The bike is ready to pick up from Halford's. Game on for a ride this weekend, but it looks as if Andy's not going to be there on Saturday. Could this mean a lonely ride to Botley Hill? Either way I've got to get out there; I haven't been on a ride for a month! Not all my fault: the rain's played a major part.

Will be cycling with Andy on Sunday, so let's hope the weather holds. It's not 100% certain that Andy won't be going on Saturday.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Two years ago....

They say time flies when you're enjoying yourself. Well, they're probably right. Click here to find out what we were up to two years ago.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

No bike until mid-week...I hope!

Sunday 17th June 2012, 2140hrs: Have enjoyed the weather, which has been changeable this weekend, but largely very good (sitting in the garden with a beer sort of weather) I've kind of missed the bike and the exercise it brings me.

For whatever reason, Halford's still haven't fixed it. They've had it since Wednesday but haven't managed to get a delivery of the parts needed. Hopefully, it'll be this week otherwise I'll have to go retrieve the bike and take it elsewhere.

It's dark outside now and my conservatory is illuminated purely by the halogen glow of the computer screen. In fact, all the lights are off and the garden is still visible, just. Later this week, on the 21st, we'll have the longest day and then it'll start getting darker again as we hurtle towards the winter. Let's hope the summer picks up.

Andy, if you're reading this, talk during the week. My plan is to pick up the bike on late-night shopping day, assuming it's ready, so I should be fine for a ride next Saturday morning. Let's hope the weather holds. I'm also assuming that you DID go out and take advantage of the great weather. Talk soon.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sunshine, blue skies...but no bike

Sunday 17th June 2012, 0648hrs: Lovely day but I've got no bike to ride on, sadly. Hopefully, will get the call today.

Outside there's no breeze, all is still, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Perfect weather for a ride.

Still waiting...

Saturday 16th June, Croydon, 1109 hrs: Just to keep everyone updated: the bike is STILL in Halford's awaiting the parts before it can be fixed. Hopefully, I'll pick it up later today for a ride tomorrow.

Weather: changeable. Cloudy, then rain, then sunshine (repeat and fade)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Bike still in Halford's

Just a brief note to say my bike is still in Halford's being repaired. They're waiting for the part, which is odd. Surely, hydraulic brake pads are kept on site as so many bikes have them and need them replaced. But no, they're waiting for a delivery and they're either getting one today (but I doubt it as it's now 1706 BST and I've not received the call) or tomorrow.

The big question: do I ride out on Max's rather dodgy Specialized Hardrock (buckled rear wheel and other issues) or just resign myself to not going tomorrow? The dilemmas I have to deal with!

Weather's been strange: one minute pouring with rain, then dry and sunny the next. Mid-June and the summer's been a complete wash-out so far, unlike last year, which was amazing from around the end of March (but still people complained). This year? Well, it has been very poor. Right now, mild breeze and cotton wool cloud moving west.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bike being fixed...an annual event

My bike in the garage...a sorry site!
After fixing my rear puncture, I tried to get the wheel back on, but couldn't. It meant no cycling for me on Sunday and now the bike's in Halford's being repaired. Something to do with the braking system being magnetic and also needing new pads too.

Andy came round Sunday morning and we drank our tea in my garage and tried to fix the bike, but to no avail. The above photograph is of my bike in my garage minus a rear wheel.

Every year around this time my bike is in the garage being fixed...and for the same reason: the rear brakes.

Looking forward to a ride this weekend. Westerham would be good, but how about the tearooms at Flowers Farm in Godstone, the Tatsfield Churchyard, who knows?

The weather's looking good now: sunshine and blue skies.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

82 miles in seven hours and 36 minutes

Andy cycled from his house in Caterham, Surrey, to Brighton, East Sussex, and back in seven hours and 36 minutes. He covered a total of 82 miles. We spoke on the phone last night and, understandably, he was tired, but at least he did it. Looking out on the garden yesterday morning it took a while for me to notice the fine rain. It hadn't registered in the bird bath and I'd imagine that only by going outside would I have felt the rain on my head.

Andy's Kona Blast on the promenade at Brighton. The famous pier can be
seen in the background.
As Andy rightfully said, had it been him and I going on a normal ride, we'd have aborted it. So it was touch and go whether Andy was going to get out there and head for Brighton, but he took the plunge and did it. Ironically, I drove to the South Coast yesterday (to Felpham, West Sussex) and the weather certainly picked up the further south I drove. I'd been to the same place on Saturday and again, the weather was brilliant; something my dad used to call 'the Sussex Factor'. He believed that the South Downs had something to do with it, ie, that if it was pouring down, say, North of Amberley, then you could virtually guarantee good weather to the south – something like that.

I would have loved to join Andy on his ride to Brighton, but it was not to be (family commitments and so on) but we're on for a ride next Saturday and are highly likely to head for Flowers Farm and the teashop in Godstone.

I haven't been out all weekend. On Saturday, while I'd bought the leeches (to fix my rear wheel puncture) I spent the day on the south coast, returning late. I fixed the bike on Sunday morning and then went off to the disaster that was the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant. Then on Monday, well, it was raining and, as Andy said, we would have aborted it. Now, on Tuesday morning, it's lovely out there, but it's also nearly 9 o'clock in the morning as I write this; I wasn't up with lark so I haven't gone and with Andy not going, where's the incentive?

Well done to Andy, though, for brushing aside the weather and going for it. See photo above, taken by Andy yesterday when he reached the coast. I hope, Andy, that you had a swim in the sea before returning?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee...I've got to go and it's raining

I would have gone out for a ride this morning if I'd had time yesterday to fix the puncture. I went to Halfords, bought the leeches and then went out for the whole day, returning around 10pm, so I simply didn't have time. Andy's back from the Lake District so hopefully we'll be out tomorrow and Tuesday.

Don't count on any of our current rock stars to rock the boats.
Just for the record, it's Diamond Jubilee Weekend (day two) and guess what? We've got tickets for the celebrations in Battersea Park. I know, I'm not a Royalist, but I've kind of got to go. The mother-in-law got the tickets and I've gone and committed myself. It's going to mean standing around with a load of pro-monarchy types (you know the sort: they camp out all night and wave plastic Union Jacks at passing Royals) in the annoying drizzle, just watching the Thames and feigning interest and excitement. "Ooh! Look! It's a boat!" And then, at some stage, coming home, on the train, with the rest of the crowd.

Still, it's got to be done! Well, no it hasn't, but I'm going to have to grin and bear it. Staying at home alone would be better: if the weather clears, I could nip out for a ride on the bike, possibly stop off at a local pub, enjoy a pint and then cycle home, have something to eat, watch a bit of TV...but no, I've got to go out in the rain, catch a train and then spend the day looking at the Thames.

I've been watching a bit of the coverage on BBC Breakfast and there was what's her name, Louise Minchin, umbrella over her head in the drizzly greyness of London, pointing out a few ordinary-looking boats that are just about visible on the equally grey Thames. Big it up as much you like, it's going to be very drab, very grey and very,very boring – not to mention very, very, VERY WET!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Light up the night sky...with a cycle jacket

...and here it is in action.
The London Evening Standard's motoring correspondent writes in tonight's paper about the Visijax, a rainproof, 'breathable' jacket made of high-visibility material that lights up at the press of a button. In fact, the phrase 'lights up' was mine. David Williams writes 'lights up like a Christmas tree', which is completely different. The jacket has flashing LED lights front and back and these, says Williams, are mounted so as to 'avoid obliteration' by a backpack.

During the day, the Visijax acts like a normal cycle jacket, but at night it literally comes to life. It's practical too – it has a pocket – and it costs a reasonably respectable £149. For further details, click here.