Saturday, 28 May 2016

May bank holiday – Sunday morning ramblings...

It's 0630hrs and, in all honesty, I never thought I'd be sitting here at this hour. Having planned an early night – or rather, having planned to go to bed 'on time' (around 2230hrs) – I then discovered that I'd be in the car at gone midnight picking somebody up at the railway station. Admittedly this meant that I could sit and watch a couple of episodes of the X-Files so I embraced the situation.

You might recall that yesterday I didn't go out on the bike because I had a 'drive' in mind. Well, that drive took me to Petworth (in West Sussex) and then the beach at Littlehampton. The weather, as I'm sure you'll recall, was wonderful. The reason for no bike ride was to conserve energy and not risk falling asleep at the wheel, which can happen if tiredness sets in; I know somebody who lost his arm having fallen asleep at the wheel. And, as the Greyhound bus driver told me in Pittsburgh last week, the key to any form of long distance driving is rest.

Rest is crucial, say Greyhound bus drivers. This dated shot I found online.
Now let's not make any wild claims here: the difference between the English and Americans when it comes to driving distances is vast. Americans are known to drive in excess of 10hours to get somewhere, often much more, working occasionally in shifts or simply stopping for cups of coffee en route and really going for it. In the UK, if you drive for more than about six hours you'll end up in the sea – and that's if you were driving from Lands End to John O' Groats. So my piddly journey of around 130 miles all-in was nothing to shout about, but I know one thing and that is 'tiredness kills' and I've had many an occasion where I've felt heavy-lidded while clasping the wheel and it's not good.

So, having got to bed, eventually, at gone midnight, I thought I'd check if Andy fancied a later start – meeting at the green around 0800hrs instead of the normal 0730hrs. Alright, just a 30-minute delay, but it makes all the difference. And then, when the alarm sounded – or rather the radio sprang to life at 0600hrs – I was up and out of bed. If the truth be known, I was awake at 0530hrs as the sun had already penetrated the curtains; and while I did get back to sleep, when the radio came on I listened to the first news headline – something about Michael Gove and Boris Johnson and all the back-biting going on within the Tory ranks over the EU debate – and then jumped out of bed.

It was another wonderful morning outside. The sun was shining and, well, that's all I know to be honest, it's another great day and perfect for cycling. I put on a tee-shirt, found my socks (one was on the floor, the other hiding in one of the legs of my trousers) and then headed downstairs for Shredded Wheat, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, not forgetting a cup of tea (with milk!). You may be wondering why I've included 'with milk', well, it's all to do with my recent trip to the USA and a tea company called Bigelow's.

Bigelow's makes some wonderful tea, and I discovered it by accident. Over by the tea station in my hotel – which, annoyingly, was closer to the front desk than the breakfast room (unlike the coffee) – I found a little red sachet of black tea but failed to notice that it contained orange rind and sweet spices. Initially, I thought there was something wrong with the water until I picked up a sachet of the tea the following morning and noted that it was a black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, something, perhaps, that I should drink with milk. For the rest of my stay in the USA I had the tea straight without milk and then, before checking out and flying home I half-inched a few sachets to take home (around 20!). All last week here in the UK I've been enjoying this wonderful tea, without milk, and I ran out yesterday, so now I'm back on normal black tea with milk and it's not the same. I'm planning to get some of Bigelow's tea delivered to me here in the UK.

So I'm sitting here at 0653hrs, having enjoyed my breakfast – and looking forward to another one in Westerham later this morning – and I'm feeling alive and ready to ride, which is odd when you consider I was expecting to feel tired and heavy-lidded and in 'abort' territory. There was a text from Andy saying yes to a later start and while I considered texting back and saying 'stick with our usual time' I remembered the wise words of the Greyhound bus driver and decided to chill out and leave at 0730hrs for an 0800hrs rendezvous at Warlingham Green. For a minute I thought I'd spelt 'rendezvous' incorrectly, but it's fine. "The key is rest," my Greyhound bus driver said and he was right. Remember that when I met the guy he'd driven a bus from New York City to Pittsburgh via Philadelphia and was heading back in the opposite direction the following morning. That's a long drive and with the added responsibility of having passengers on board.

Riding a Greyhound bus in America is probably one of those things we should all do at some stage in our lives. Perhaps the next time I'm out there, I'll ride one somewhere, but the distances are so huge and time at such a premium, it's something I'll have to think long and hard about before climbing aboard.

On the rest front, I haven't been doing too well. The worst thing about jet lag is often its subtlety. By that I mean it hangs around long after you think it's gone home. I got back last Saturday morning, not  yesterday, but the week before and I decided that day to stay up until it was time to hit the sack. This I managed quite well. During the day I had a few periods of nodding off for a split second or two, but I managed it all the way through to gone midnight and then, during the week just past, I found that while the jet lag proper had gone, I noticed that I had a new lease of life around 2300hrs and sat up watching late night television shows before hitting the sack around the witching hour. This has persisted all week and what with yesterday's late night I'm still not getting the early night my body deserves. I know that one of these days I'll feel need to crash early and that I'll simply stagger up to bed and fall asleep.

Right, it's time for a ride. See you later...

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