Thursday, 26 December 2013


Thanks to all those who rode with me this year, either on the bicycle, or in other ways, all too numerous to mention individually. You encouraged me, gave me your wheel, fixed my punctures and tucked in errant clothing.

That's enough metaphor-stretching.

Look forward to seeing you in 2014.

Pictures from my ride on Christmas Eve. All, as ever, mean something.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Heart is on my sleeve

I told my osteopath I'd have a quiet December, and since the last post,as far as cycling goes, that has been largely true. A couple of Sunday rides, where the coffee/cake/bacon sandwich have been the objective. There was quite a lot of inadvertent climbing last week, rather than hard and fast miles. Together with a couple of commutes, characterised by lots of rain, muck and headwind, have made for a gradual wind-down as Christmas and the New Year approaches.

There was the small matter of my niece's wedding, where my siblings and I got together for the first time in a while, it was lovely to catch up with them all. Notice how much taller my elder brother is, he is in fact 7 feet 5.

Gandalf & the Hobbits

Then I have had the visit of my sister, her partner, and my younger brother. Wherever you live I bet you take its beauty for granted. You only really find out what a great place you live in when strangers come to town and tell you so.

We had a great night out watching the The Waterboys at the Colston Hall, and the drive into Bristol over the suspension bridge seemed to impress. But not as much as our walk over Cross Plain, Wavering Down and up the Strawberry Line.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Mike Scott. What can I say. Supreme lyricist and tunesmith. Fantastic visionary, musical pioneer. Just genius. Songs of incredible memory and meaning, played with aplomb, with Anto Thistlethwaite and Steve Wickham adding in dollops of sparkling inventiveness too. That means something.

My brother and I debated which song they would play first, he was right and I was about as wrong as it's possible to be, my guess was the last song. And if you understand the significance of this photo (apologies for the poor quality) then you too followed the raggle-taggle band in 1988.

Today I was up and over Shipham Hill just in time to see the remnants of the sunrise. It was cold, very windy, and wet. It's December, that's what you get. But the company and the coffee stop was good, and neither of us wanted much more out of the day. We didn't go far, in fact we went less than our original limited plan, mainly because neither of us fancied being blasted to kingdom come by the wind.

An easy ride, nothing spectacular.  Ordinary , but good.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

You've got to promise not to stop when I say when

I'm not going to dwell on it, but I found out yesterday that someone I knew quite well at University had died last August. He was just 50 and had a wife, and two children under ten. I'd lost contact with him in the last ten years, but it was still a bit of a shock.

Today's post aims to celebrate all that is good about life, and in particular to remind you all, in my usual clunky, preachy fashion, that what is most important in life are not your jobs, your money, your possessions, your status, or even your Ultegra Di2. Nice though all these things are, what sets a happy life apart from a miserable one is the quality of your friends and family.

Yesterday I had a very odd day where I became incapable of keeping anything in perspective, and I am very grateful to Mrs Mendip Rouleur for guiding me through my own personal maelstrom. I give her a hard time a lot, so I'm going to do something I rarely do, and say thank you to her for being with me. At all.

And today, it was great to be out in the rain, the muck, the silage, the bad driving, the hedge clippings, the headwind and the potholes with three great stalwarts of the road, Steve, Martyn and Dave. I think my face may have been the cleanest at the end of the ride, but it was probably a close-run thing.

As is traditional on days like today, the sun came out just as the ride was finishing, but today I really didn't mind, I'd had a great day, just trundling trundling around the levels, drinking coffee and eating cake at Sweet's café, and generally enjoying myself. Here's the view from the layby on the Axbridge by-pass, just to prove what a lovely day it was.

Congratulations to the Princess on getting mobile, look forward to seeing you dashing off on mad adventures all over the country. SO for you, and anyone else who has been waiting a while, here's this.
Merry Christmas.

Friday, 6 December 2013

You've got to walk in a straight line

I've come in for a bit of abuse recently. It all concerns my slightly, no, my very obsessive nature, and in particular how it plays out with planning bike rides. Like many cyclists I don't like going over the same ground twice on a ride, so I do all I can to make the rides circular. Preferably clockwise, though this isn't essential. Merely preferable.

I have no idea where this comes from, just like trying to avoid the cracks in the pavement, it's something that started a long time ago. I've largely grown out of the pavement thing by the way. Although I do get an uneasy feeling if I catch myself walking on those chasms of doom.

Yesterday I was up in London to work for the day. Aside from the usual angst and frustration of the non-quiet carriage (I think one day there will be a massacre in a quiet carriage, as someone's seething, silent rage, boils over, and he [it will be a he, neighbours will say he always seemed like such a quiet chap] will either rip one of the folding tables from the back of the chairs and decapitate the transgressors, or else batter them to death with his Blackberry), it was the usual busy day.

Of course London is business made corporate. Everyone charging about as if what they do is so important and the centre of absolutely everything. Anyone with half a brain will know that the literal centre of the world is in fact Galmpton.

I digress. Once again Monmarduman  and I failed to hook up for lunch (he was busy doing something important I think ;-) ) so I was left to wander the streets of Cheapside to hunt down some lunch. Which meant M & S food on Cheapside. Where I continued my statistical monitoring of the self-serve tills versus the manned ones. I join one queue at the same time as I watch someone else join the other, and see who finishes their transaction first. So far it's manned till 42, self-service 0.

Think about it, if you do something hundreds of times a day, for a living, you are going to be faster than someone who only does it, at most, daily. At peak times the manned tills are, well, fully manned. All be women usually so I think we need to re-thing that nomenclature.

Walking back to my office, I passed this window.

Every PC on display, and there must have been a couple of dozen on them, had this little bit of motivational bollocks written on them. You always know when one of these straplines is utter claptrap if the exact opposite would make no sense whatsoever. I think most of this sort of thing is a waste of time.

If anyone thinks about it at all I suspect they are like me, and poke fun at it. For instance, did you know that First Great Western are "Transforming Travel"? If my experiences over the last few weeks are anything to go by they are living up to their aspiration, by making the journey from London to Bristol as unpleasant as possible. But I don't think that's what hey had in mind.

First Bus on the other hand have moved on. They are now creating better journeys for life. Presumably because travelling on any form of motorised transport in Bristol feels like a lifetime.

I made it back to the office safely despite all the black cabs trying to run me over. This was my circular route. You see, I can't help myself.

But that's what a strange town will do to you.

Back to cycling next time, Promise.