Sunday, 15 February 2015

Slow way... to, yes, you've guessed it, the...

... Tatsfield Bus Stop! And why not? I'm still climbing through the turbulent clouds of slothfulness left over after a long Christmas break, it's been a bit chilly on the weather front and I need a bit of warmth, I need the clocks to go forward before I fully embrace the ecstasy that is cycling in the Surrey and Northern Kent countryside.

We were going to ride to Westerham, but in all honesty, while I went to bed at 2100hrs last night (Saturday) and had a fairly good night's sleep, waking refreshed and finding myself singing (if that's what it was) while downstairs making myself tea, a boiled egg and two Weetabix at the crack of dawn, I was thinking about the ride, getting back early and all the usual preoccupations. When Andy and I met on the green at 0730hrs we decided to head for the Tatsfield village. I was armed with fruit cake, Christmas cake to be precise, made by mum, and I suggested that if we have cake then we'll need somewhere dry and sheltered with a seat in order to stuff our faces in a civilised manner. Who wants to stand up when there's cake to eat?

The weather was damp and foggy. It was much foggier than Saturday – when we rode to the Tatsfield Churchyard – meaning that benches exposed to the air would be damp, like they were yesterday,  and we'd have to stand up. There's no cover at Westerham and there's no cover at the Tatsfield Churchyard meaning that it was down to the village or the bus stop. We opted for the latter.

Customised NoVisibleLycra frame transfers – you know you want one!
On the way we didn't see any Lycra monkeys. Andy believes that most of them shun the cold and foggy weather and prefer to stay indoors on their 'turbo trainers'. But we're not wimpy like them, we're out there in all weathers, taking the rough with the smooth.

Beddlestead Lane in the fog – it was thicker than it looks
Going the slow way, around the lanes towards Hesiers Hill and then up Beddlestead Lane, is a hard work-out for early on a Sunday morning. In the fog it was difficult to see where we were, but sooner or later we emerged on to Clarks Lane and virtually free-wheeled to the bus stop where the tea, BelVita biscuits and cake were brought out and we sat there discussing how the internet, by and large, was a complete and utter waste of time.

Take Linkedin, for instance; I've had an account since 2009 and has it done me any good? No. It's just full of pretentious posers pretending to be dynamic and 'on the ball' by posting links to articles and stuff they want me to think they're very interested in. It's so boring! And then there's that bit where it tells you who has been looking at your profile; and while I might know some of the people – and find myself wondering 'why are they looking at my profile?' – most of those interested seem to be recruitment agents and they never, ever, get in touch. Not that I particularly want them to.

Matt and Andy at the Tatsfield Bus Stop...the fog cleared
And what about this blog? What about it you may well ask? While I tend to get around 25 to 50 hits a day, sometimes more than double that depending on whether or not I tweet a post on my Twitter account, it's really a waste of time outside of the fact that it's a kind of diary of our cycling over the past God knows how many years (I think it's six years this coming August, not sure, I'll have to check). I've never had the call from some guru or other (not that I want one to call me) saying wow! your blog's amazing, you must accept this £150,000 salary and come and join us! Wow! You're brilliant! No, nothing of the sort, and I have other blogs and they're equally as nowhere as this one. In short, being online, having an 'online presence', whatever you want to call it, is a complete and utter waste of time.

Fortunately, because it's online and not in print, it's not a case of 'woodman, spare that tree' and to be fair – and I don't know why, but probably because there's a stronger element of an 'audience' online when compared to the paper equivalent – I have kept the blog going, updating it at least weekly and sometimes daily. I've tried keeping paper-based diaries before and I tend not to get very far into the year before I lose interest, so in that sense alone, the blog has been worthwhile. With this blog we have a record of our cycling 'adventures' that we can refer to, glance at, whatever, at our leisure, even on our smartphones. Yes, I'm that sad! And I'm sure that Andy is too. Jon and Phil are a little more divorced for the whole thing.

But then why should one expect anything from anything? Why should there be any kind of end result to anything we do or say? I've often wondered whether my blog (or blogs) have ever directly affected anything in my life and I can say, almost without doubt, that no, they haven't had the slightest affect on anything. I wonder how many people, having arranged a meeting with me, have then Googled my name and found this blog? Actually, I'm sure people have done that – we all Google people, after all – but has it in any way altered their actions. "Quick, give that guy a call, I don't want to see him next Tuesday, he's taking the piss out of Lycra monkeys and (ahem) I'm a Lycra monkey!" Or, "Hold on a minute, if he's the bloke in the Tesco ASBO specials and the flappy hat and balaclava combo then he's not getting an interview with me!" Hmmm...come to think of it, some people have cancelled meetings. Perhaps...but no, I really don't think so. This blog is pretty harmless one way or the other. It's just a diary of my weekend cycling with Andy and Phil and my brother Jon. Alright, there's a few 'humorous' articles – well I think they're funny – a few satirical sketches, a few limp and misguided political commentaries, nothing that's going to set the world alight, but I can't believe that any of it would in any way negatively alter the course of my life and career. Why should it? And more importantly, why should I expect it to? And that goes for any other bloggers out there in cyberspace. We all do it because we can, perhaps there's a little vanity in there somewhere, I don't know, but ultimately that's about it. It's a distraction, a hobby, something to do, a way of giving stuff structure.

Red leather Converse All-Stars...
So what is the internet good for? Well, booking cheap flights, selling stuff on ebay, looking at the BBC news website instead of buying a newspaper, emailing people, social media (don't get me started on social media, although I suppose a blog is 'social media'). I don't have a Facebook account, but I do have Twitter and it's also a total waste of time. People on Twitter think their tweets are going to make them famous or rich. The reality is the complete opposite, I'm afraid. Alright, of late I'm a little guilty of going on Twitter and commenting on tweets left by pals and associates and reading Russell Brand's Trew News occasionally, but ultimately it's a waste of time and is getting me (and everybody else) nowhere fast.

Where it does come in handy is at work. Being a journalist, life is so much easier these days, thanks to the worldwide web. Finding addresses, reading news from around the world and not just from the UK, setting up Google alerts on certain subjects, having relevant articles to what I'm writing/researching at my's all far easier than relying upon a telephone directory and the Yellow Pages to reach the people I need to talk to; and then there's 'digitalisation' and the fact that photographs can be emailed and I no longer have to rely upon the post (or 'snail mail' as it's called). Remember those stiff, cardboard-backed envelopes required to post off photographs?

Yes, in a work sense, the internet has made things a lot easier on all levels, but unless I come up with the next Google or the next Ebay then I can safely assume that while the internet makes my working life much easier, it's not going to bring me fame and fortune and, you know what? I don't want fame or fortune, just good health and happiness.

And on that bombshell, we headed for home, the fast way. The thick fog, which had engulfed the entire area around the Tatsfield Bus Stop and beyond had lifted. Only minutes earlier we watched bikes and cars disappear into the thick 'pea souper', but now, disillusioned as we were about anything connected with the word 'online' we pedalled off towards the Botley Hill Farmhouse and the road home. We parted at the Green and vowed to be back there next weekend for another exciting episode of NoVisibleLycra.

Until then...


  1. Pretty cool Team stickers there fellas. What do you reckon the overseas postage would run for those to reach Iowa?

  2. I'll see what I can do; but I'll need a forwarding address. How goes it?