Saturday, 28 July 2012

Holiday in the sun

Respectability. Do you think it happens to all of us? One day we are on demonstrations, wearing stretch black jeans and Doc Marten boots, with hand-knitted black and red jumpers. Then all of a sudden the music is too loud, you worry about your pension and you find yourself always looking at sell-by dates on tins of baked beans. Just to check.

Well, if a certain John Lydon was watching the Olympic ceremony last night, I wonder if he was delighted or horrified. A certain Tory MP, and I won't even bother to look up his name, because he deserves no more publicity, did describe the ceremony as lefty rubbish. Which may be true, but then, we have other traditions besides pomp and circumstance.

Tolpuddle. Great Reform Act. Yes, the NHS, still the best even if a bit creaky. Go further back and you find the Levellers, the Diggers, and in 1381, The Peasants' Revolt.

So I know they are spending billions of our taxes, and it's easy to sneer and scoff. Though probably not at the same time. But last night I was quite proud to be British. Remembered that we do some things very well. A bit of teenage rebellion in my case, all safely forgotten by most now. And while they didn't quite go for "Anarchy in the UK", or "God Save the Queen" it was still the Sex Pistols. And not many nations would have the courage to do that.

Last week I wore this on the Tour of the Cotswolds:

It was the closest I could get to patriotism to mark the stunning British Tour success. Today, it being an Axbridge Cycling Group ride, I naturally wore my ACG top. Modelled here by Skip, at the Potting Shed cafe in Langport.

She's just checking her head is still screwed on. And threatening to punch me for taking her photo. In front of her are the remains of 8 cyclists' cafe stop refreshments, for we were a proper peloton today, we had more people in our line than the GB road race team. And it was almost as fast as their chase of the breakaway.

Figgy, Broadway Danny Rose, King of the Hill, Nelson, S, M (the latter two will get their names, don't worry) plus the two ACG stalwarts (Skip & I), hot-tailed it across the levels via High Ham on a sunny and breezy day. I fear the Summer could be over tomorrow, for the forecast is not good, so we had to make the most of it. Generally we were a well matched group, except when it came to the lumps and bumps when Figgy invariably shot off the front.

I was feeling a little fatigued today after a combined 63 miles of commuting on the bike yesterday. A trip that included the climbs of Long Lane Wrington, Yewtree Batch (Butcombe), Dundry Hill, Redwood Lodge, Backwell Hill, Cleeve Hill and Burrington Combe.

There must be simpler ways of getting to and from work than this route. It also included over 5000 feet of climbing, which combined with the quick ride I did on  Tuesday night after work
 with Skip, which had over 2000 feet, andtoday's route (where I added a climb up Shipham Hill after everyone else had gone home) with a further 2600 feet, means I've done the Tourmalet and  Aubisque this week. Shame I'll have to do that sort of thing in a single morning in a few weeks' time.

If you were wondering, details of my itinerary can be found on the Pyractif website. A few people have asked what I'll be doing, and I have that strange mixture of fear and excitement that comes before a tough challenge.

The tour does sound a bit like a headache remedy (Pyrenean coast-to-coast pro-strength), but believe me, it is a bit more formidable than it sounds. I'm getting to that stage where I'm avoiding ill people and starting to be ultra-cautious in case I crash and injure myself. Like poor Fabian today, what was he thinking?

Still I have prepared about as much as I can, and that would never have happened when I was a teenager. So perhaps there are some benefits to this respectability lark. Maybe.

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