Tuesday, 23 December 2014

"Self-disgust is self-obsession honey, and I do as I please"

Unlike my friend Monmarduman I have almost no interest whatsoever in who reads my blog. Just like all the other egocentric, self-obsessed and totally vain inhabitants of the "me generation" that inhabit the internet. Now that is out of the way I can write what I really think.

I write it for me. I have vague pretensions that I could be a writer if I could be bothered, or unprepared to use the excuse of a busy life for a reason as to why not. It is true that I have some wonderfully creative ideas that could transform themselves into brilliantly erudite and well-written literature. But they are unlikely to be anything other than passing flights of fancy in my very imaginative mind, as I lack the discipline or attention to make it happen.

Still, the construction of most of what I write is better than about 95% of what other people blog about. I'm the best writer of people that I actually know. I'm also one of the most arrogant, but I cloak that selfishness (most of the time) in a kind of faux self-deprecation, that makes people laugh as if I'm not serious about my talent. The truth is that just like the X-factor proves that most people shouldn't be allowed near a microphone, the internet and ubiquity of blogging, proves that most people should stick to what they do best.

I also don't care if you like it or not. You are reading it after all, it's your time. I waste enough time of my life reading pointless shit on the web to know how easy it is to get sucked into it. But it won't change your life, or your cycling ability. I make jokes, I spout opinions and I argue cogent points based on real facts (now and again). But it's hardly Julian Barnes.

I did say almost. What does excite my curiosity is that people all over the world are apparently reading this. Although as far as I can see no-one from North Korea as yet. The top countries for this year are below.


The UK and the States I understand. But the Ukraine? What could be of so much interest that has drawn over 2000 page views? I did this exercise a while back and China was nowhere, but now it ranks 7th on the list, most of them fairly recently. Get a life. Or meet me at Sweets and I'll explain why a Selle Italia saddle is a must-have accessory. I am not yet a threat to the stability of your government.

But I do hope to see Tibet liberated in my lifetime.

On the cycling front it's the time of year to review accomplishments, count the achievements and make plans and set targets for the next year. But just like those round-robin letters, no-one really is that interested, if you are go to my Strava page and have a look. The only people who are interested are the competitive ones among us who say they like to see what others are up to, but are really trying to beat you.

The round robin letters are funny though. It's a long-winded way of saying one or more of the following:

1. My job is so much better than yours
2. I travel to really interesting places that you don't
3. I live vicariously, through my talented kids mainly
4. I've entered an ironman, I'm so tough

On the other hand have finally managed to exorcise the faster Holy Bible from the recesses of my depressed brain. It was a glorious time and taught me so much but it's time to move on now. In any case I thought this contribution was more enlightening. And I heard it ringing out from a concert on the same day I passed by on my best day on the bike this year. Which is nice.

But just as there are only 20 stories, all the best ideas are stolen. Including this one, and I don't want to be in trouble with those Koreans. Not yet anyway.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

"You can prove anything with facts"

Quite a few of my friends have political opinions. Most of them are just that, but it doesn't stop them spouting them as if they were true. Including me. Although I tend to be fairly intuitive with my diatribes and insights, that doesn't stop me from being right.

You can see where I'm getting this style from, can't you?

But seriously. The lies wash them down and the promises rust. Most of us instinctively distrust politicians. Why? Because our sub-conscious brains register their shifty eyes, the turn of their heads or downcast and sidelong glances when they are telling us lies, mis-truths or omissions.

Rhetoric and spin my friends, a diet our screens and airwaves cram down our willing and oblivious throats, and we are all too happy to shrug and move on with cries of "they're all a bunch of charlatans, but what can you do?"

I was thinking about the deficit today. Not that exciting as a source of amusement, but what I was mostly thinking about was that our TV experts really understand very little. That's because they are reading most of it, and my subconscious recognises when someone is talking to me like I'm an idiot. But my conscious "I used to work on the front-line of middle class goes south in the early 90s recession south-east London banking personal debt crisis" brain also knows its stuff.

So I know a few things about money and its rules. Of which there are two:

1. Don't spend more than you earn or sooner or later you will run out of cash and be in the shit.

2. It's generally better to know how and when the shit is coming, that way you may be able to prevent it. Keep honest records. At least for yourself.

So here's a question for you. How much is total public sector revenue this year? Or how about this one. Is the total public debt as a percentage of public revenue, going up or down?

I bet you don't know. I didn't. And you can bet your bottom euro, the politicians are not going to waive the numbers in your face. In fact I bet half the MPs in the House of Commons don't even know. Bet they believe their own lies. Governments don't have much influence because world forces shape our economy. And those are driven by the influence of capitalism.

So I went and did some digging around and found a website that has done the heavy lifting, and it allows you to create your own datasets. If you have a mortgage, chances are that when you took it out its total value was somewhere between 3-4 times your annual income, but over time as your income increased and the debt came down, that percentage would decrease.


All figs in billions GBP200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
revenue488519549536516555577593585648670690
spending523549582633673694694694713731747747
Annual surplus (deficit)-35-30-33-97-157-139-117-101-128-83-77-57
Total Public debt420490530620760910110011851258135514391497
GDP130014051450140714321499154615751641172917891860
debt as % of annual income86%94%97%116%147%164%191%200%215%209%215%217%
debt as % GDP32%35%37%44%53%61%71%75%77%78%80%80%

Not so our public debt. It's been rising faster over the last eight years than at any time since the second world war. That's not a partisan comment. I don't think governments of any political colour have the courage to take bold decisions, so in thrall are they to vested interests. The figures in blue are estimates of the future, which generally turn out to be bollocks.

The site also tells you that most of the spending goes on welfare, health and education, which to all intents and purposes are either politically untouchable or very hard to shift without mass starvation or riots on the streets. And that's just the over 50s.

So in a nutshell, unless we can make some very tough choices on spending, or start to improve incomes and hence tax revenues, we're in that proverbial. We have never faced anything like this before.

So you will hear lots of rhetoric and spin, but most of it will be guff. Which is why they are actually happy for the conversation to be all about immigration or terrorism. It's more simplistic and easy to appeal to all your opinions. Although quite frankly, without a big influx of young people in the next few years, I'm not sure who is going to pay for all my healthcare.

An answer? From me? Seriously? Well I wouldn't start from here for a start.

Here it is then.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Be careful but be graceful

Picture the scene. A dark Sunday morning, somewhere on the fringes of the Mendip Hills, Somerset. November. 2014.

"Why not stay in bed" asked Mrs Rouleur as I peered gloomily out into the stygian gloom of the first proper day of Winter. No, I resolved, despite the murk, the drizzle, the wind and cold, I was going. And what's more, I was coming back too.

It all started a couple of weeks' ago when Martyn and I were talking about great rides, in the sense of wonderful parcours, scenery, the right mix of hills and dales. That sort of thing. I waxed lyrical about the ride I used to do to my parents' house on the Hampshire/Dorset border. I'd get up at 7, cycle over on a Saturday morning and then la famille would drive over later and we'd all drive home on Sunday.

But of course there are no parents to ride to anymore, so I've not had the opportunity to do that route in ages. "Well", said Martyn, "ride over, ride back, you'll get a 200km ride in, and kick off your Randonneur round the Year". In my first year of Audax membership I managed to achieve the modest award of a Randonneur 1000, so to have another goal for 2015 is an interesting idea. I'm also one step ahead as I have already done a 200km ride in October so do the ride to Alderholt and back and I'm only 10 months away from the award.

Intrinsically motivated though I am, a bit of external validation never goes amiss, especially if I can get a medal for it. So I duly signed up the route, the first 100km or so out to Alderholt and bolted on a return leg which came from my last 300km in June. That meant that even though I was in for a DIY Audax by GPS, with a registered date of 23 November, so at least navigation would be fairly easy.

There was another reason for wanting to do the ride though. The last time I did the outward route to Alderholt had been my sister's 50th birthday celebration, and none of us knew it would be the last time we'd all be together, and I had no idea it would be the last time I'd ride that route. So I wanted to bid farewell to that particular set of roads.

So despite the drizzle, the cold, the wind, then the hammering rain, then a bit of almost sunshine and plummeting temperatures, I just got out and did it. Parts of it were tough, my bottom gear (admittedly a puny 28T) was lost, so I had to do all the hills on a 25, but it wasn't too bad. And even the headwind across Cranborne Chase was bearable. And the trees were still gorgeous. There's a hedge near Berwick St John that has to be the most beautiful I've ever seen.


I saw three other people on road bikes, one mountain biker and a teenager out for a Sunday spin on a hybrid. Apart from that it was just me, the weather, the road, and the sky. I'm now going to have a two week break from riding give my body a restful break rather than a real one. I'm 9 miles shy of 7000 miles for the year, so I don't want to make next year's targets too tough, do I?

 

Friday, 21 November 2014

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

This year I have had a few exchanges, some intelligent, some less so, with others about the rise of the UK Independence Party.



I understand the perspective of alienation, the rejection of all the so-called "mainstream" political parties. Ages ago I realised that once people organised themselves into a group, or a party, they were on the road to subsuming their individual consciences in the service of the greater entity. It's true of all areas of human existence, the tension between being an individual, lonely, and part of a group, a slave.

So UKIP are just like the rest in that respect, they are there to enlist the many in the service of a few. That's what groups are about. There is payback for the many of course. A sense of belonging, a few of your individual needs met, you are no longer lonely. But you are also a slave to the whims of the decision-makers.

I wasn't surprised by their victory in either Colchester or Clacton. UKIP play to fear, and let's be honest, prejudice and bias about another out-group - immigrants. Those who are different and would "change our way of life". Nor was the faux outrage at the parody of "white-man-van" particularly shocking. All politicians hold the electorate in some level of contempt, otherwise they wouldn't be politicians. I've been abused and nearly run over by men driving white vans to know that there is little tolerance in that in-group,

Let's suppose you decided to move from Axbridge to Manchester to seek work. Would that make you an immigrant? Would you expect to be able to use the services of Manchester Council immediately, even though you hadn't paid any Council Tax there? Or use their roads to drive to work on?

Or what if your colleagues did decide that if you didn't watch the X-factor every week this meant you were odd or weird, because so many do, and so there was just a little bit of scorn in the "banter" at work on Monday morning?

To focus on difference is pernicious, nasty, small-minded and at some level we all do it. Because we all have the same tension between being ourselves and wanting to belong. We may be at different points on that spectrum, and at different levels of awareness. But it's there, because it is a part of being human.

So what is to be done? Perhaps we could all start, for one day by being a bit more honest about our frailties, to ourselves if no-one else. I know I spend a lot of my energy trying to manage mine so that they are invisible to others. But I always feel better when I just concentrate on being me.

Maybe we could all be more thoughtful about how we genuinely balance our own needs with those of a wider group of humanity. If this sounds ridiculously idealistic then good, why settle for fear, prejudice and division.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Cheapness surrounds me, but I'm not looking

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Ummm, not always so easy.

But here goes.

A few months ago I was dreading my onrushing fiftieth birthday. Then at some point, I'm not sure when, I had a change of heart. I decided to embrace it.

And now I just want to go on celebrating it for ever.

I have celebrated with my best cycling friend, by proving that even moderate cycling ability and asthmatic lungs, when combined with true comradeship and foul language, and a modicum of persistence and drafting behind better cyclists than me, can conquer three Category 1 and two HC climbs in a single day.



I have celebrated with myself, and demonstrated there really are no pockets in shrouds. Money may be the root of all evil, but I'm sure my parents would delight in my choice of British Racing Green upon which to spend their life's hard work.

I have celebrated with my life's treasure and love, and the apple of my eye, also known as Mrs Mendip Rouleur and Junior, and delighted in the intimacy and fun of balloons and streamers. And they bought me the best birthday cake that anyone in the world has ever had. Fact.



I have celebrated with my work colleagues, who shared a lunch with me and gave me a present of such stunning imagination, creativity and thoughtfulness that it made me tell everyone in Budgens in Langford what a brilliant bunch of people I work with.



I have celebrated with my cycling buddies on the roads of the Somerset levels that I mock so much. With cake, puncture repair and the puff and grunt of my best ascent of the Strava segment closest to home.



I have celebrated with my brothers and sister, their partners and children, with more fantastic and thoughtful presents and much laughter.



Thank you all.

So I feel blessed. Not by the presents (though they are nice) but by the presence of others, which is far, far, more valuable.

I'm aiming to cut down my use of social media for a while, precisely because I feel it is a distraction from the real business of engaging and communicating with people, friends, and in the essential business of living. It can also be a nice substitute (for me at least) for the essential business of thinking and reflection, and for reading books, or just noticing others. I don't want to be the centre of my own world, I want to focus on others.

How many of you have noticed this?

Real life isn't this blog, it isn't the "misguided tweets or the sad facebooking", it's the sky, the road, the music, the love, the people.

As my Dad said to me, "it's all about relationships Guy". Which was quite something for someone born in 1935.

See you soon,

xx

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Still Dreaming

Last Sunday I had one of those moments that I hadn't had for over a year. I'd promised to sit down and watch something on TV with my beloved.  I thought, "I've just got enough time to phone my Dad before it starts".

And sometimes I can still hear my Mum saying to me "you should come and see us more often".

I wish I had. But I'm not beating myself up about it, because I can't do it now. Instead I'm putting it on here in the hope that you will.

When I get cross with you or dismissive of your terribly unimportant piece of work, or tell you that anxiety and panic are for fighting tigers and running from lions not for bike rides or office politics, I'm telling you because it matters.

Your life deserves a bit more from you than that.

Because one day you will die, that is certain even if the timing is uncertain.

So what are we to do?

Au Revoir!





Tuesday, 9 September 2014

"But I've got the stars"

Reciprocity, one of my favourite words.

Leaving the Hospice to honour an obligation

My dying father understood and it was snowing.

But it's all me, me, me, go me.

Here's my favourite track for my holiday.

I'm not frightened, bring it on.

Don't mention it because I've moved on,

Got on, ridden away and dropped you.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Let her dance with me just for the hell of it

We'll come back one day, we never really went away.

I've drifted from the cycling blog over the last couple of months. Because it's difficult to keep interested in reading, let alone writing the same old stuff. But because there are some eternal truths that never go away, this post is unashamedly retro.

The Axbridge Cycle Group annual outing to Lyme Regis took place yesterday.

No pictures of cake though.

The occasion is my third ever trip to Lyme Regis. For somewhere not on the doorstep, it's a place I've only ever been to on a bike. It's a great opportunity to try out some new hills and routes in a part of the country that isn't too far away, but not immediately accessible.

More importantly, a way of having a great day out with good people. It was this kind of a day.


 
We were all laughing at lunch in the pub on the end of the sea front in a very busy and crowded Lyme, but not so much ten minutes later when we set off straight up the 15%+ hill that got us out of the town. It was fun though.
 
Although it wouldn't be allowed in any Eroica the Kinetic 1 qualifies as my oldest British-based road bike. Not much of a contest, but as the Red Madone has a 50 mm crack spanning the top and seat tube, it's the only bike I have to ride.  I was getting to know K1 all over again yesterday, its geometry, its rattly bits, and its handling on steep hills, up and down.



I'm not hopeful on the Madone's warranty claim, there was much head-shaking and teeth-sucking in the shop about the wear on the seatpost from my saddle bag contributing to the crack. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere.

There was certainly some comedy yesterday, a lot of it unrepeatable, and as usual you had to be there, contextual see? But no retro blog post wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of one stereotypical picture.



It was a beautiful day yesterday, a bit cool at times, but some wonderful views, valleys, hills, the seaside and above all various modes of transport. One train arrived at a railway crossing just as we approached, slowed and then passed as it went on its way. No doubt entranced by the view.



Then there was Martyn's pink tram, just outside Colyton.


If you take a close look at our route you will notice that its main body has few flat bits. I'm beginning to really love the Blackdowns, and our route criss-crossed them, as well as the ridge of hills near the Dorset coast.

I did feel like shit on the climb up to Dunkerswell airfield. But the plane-spotters, copious amounts of sugar and free parachute display were enough to cheer me up. With Cothelstone Hill as the last coup de grace I filled up on caffeine and orange juice and applied Rule 5. Relatively slowly, but absolutely the fastest ever.




Then came the final flat bit before I collapsed into a heap.

But I can always manage a smile for my camera.




Tuesday, 19 August 2014

"If you really cared, wash the feet of a beggar"

Maybe in the end we can do nothing and it is better to eat our bread and watch the circus. Because making a noise and wringing our hands is the same as posting kittens on the internet.

It achieves nothing.



And if you think this is too much, too woolly, too liberal, go back to your cats, your cycling, your money and your logic.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Edmund Burke, not really a liberal was he?

What are you going to do?

What am I going to do?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

To the promised land

 

Someone asked me about Cuba today.

Don't judge till you've been there, that's my advice.

And if you are convinced of the rightness of your view, you've not met enough people.

Sandpits. Smiles. Promises. Searches. Compromises. Capital. Children. Health. Death.

Is that it then?

Or are you going to do something worthwhile?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

"Self-disgust is self-obsession honey & I do as I please"

Once you've suffered depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, life is never the same again.

It's better.





 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Mirrors in the toilet


Do you want to know when you will die?

Or prefer to be taken by surprise?

Will you be the first of your friends?

Or embrace solitude at the end?

 


When mirrors are facing each other

The reflections stretch on for ever

Why would they put them in this space?

When all we want is some privacy.


 
 

 This rain doesn’t seem to be stopping

I can hear it pour down on my lane

Down from a hillside it’s dropping

Tumbling and tearing again

 
 

Journeys, darkness, rain, mirrors.    

Parking, shouting, food, money.       

Pillows, meetings, mud, mailbox.           
Asthma, anger, scars, mental.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Life is beauty

"Look up to the skies, avoid the casual litter,
Running from the pitiful Nihilism,
The misguided tweets, the sad Facebooking,
Cheapness surrounds me, but I'm not looking"

- Nicky Wire

Listen to a beautiful song here.

This was my Thursday night. Ride a bike. See things like this. With songs in your head. Find something beautiful in your life this week. Anywhere you can. Anywhere you look.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

"I destroyed the image of myself"

"If you are so sure there is no God, where do you get your moral compass?" she asked.

"Oh that is easy", he replied, "that is just a direction finder for the suffering of others."

"But" she pondered, "that implies a certain schadenfreude, which is morally corrupt, doesn't it?"

"Well make it about me then, if that makes it easier. It's all about me anyway, always, for all of us".

Gets them every time.



Thursday, 17 July 2014

But is it art?

Meaning. Useless. Purpose. Pointless.
Autonomy. Illusion. Idiot. Passion.

Words. Trees. Rain. Thankless.
Bargain. Always. Thunder. Laugh.

Russian. Welshman. Sleepless. Joke.
Pattern. Camping. Carpet. Thoughtless.

Clever. Argue. Social. Scapegoat.
Forgetful. Windchimes. Present. Trough.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Blogs are never finished merely abandoned

The internet has got a lot to answer for. There was a time when every self-respecting introvert  could exist without having to wonder about the rest of the world. We could just go about our business in the certain belief that we were better than everyone else.

Then the web came along and spoiled everything. And to add insult to injury, we have to put up with the inane chatter of extroverts too, but now magnified by a gazillion bytes of bandwidth.

But at least we have YouTube and the ability to prick the pomposity of the vain and pompous. So not all bad.

But the idiom of the blog has produced a convergence of style, phrase and self-congratulatory rubbish, so it's become hard to isolate those with prescient insight from those who just like the sound of their own typing. Of course I am aware of the irony of this on my very own blog.

But the opposite form of the genre has also become a terribly dull cliché of self-deprecation, as if the writer's opinion doesn't matter. In which case why are you bothering?

Pictures can help. Here's my minibreak in a few.






Yes there are even two clichés mixed in with the visuals too. "Oh look I'm drinking, how clever", and "this is me, taken by myself with my own phone, a selfie".

FFS.

I rode to work a couple of times this week and thought about all this. The really hackneyed blogger would have pondered it, because that suggests depth.

And after bailing on today's planned century, in favour of a metric one, I realised that JDB, The Wire and the second Mooro have come up with something so fantastic that I have to. Too.

I can't keep churning out the same old shit.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

New Forest goes West Audax (Permanent version) 300km

Tommy Godwin. Legend indeed. In 1939 he cycled an average of 205 miles. A day. Every day. On a steel bike with merino clothes (if he was lucky) and a leather chamois pad. And no Garmin, energy gels, suncream, or mobile phone and debit card if he got into difficulty. Doesn't bear much of a comparison does it? But Martyn implanted the idea in my head of riding just one day of 205 miles, and there it lurked for a few months.

Besides, I had another motivation. And yet again it involves my obsessive/competitive/compulsive nature. Take your pick and decide which for yourself, I'm done with the analysis.

It's a long story. But when I found out there was an award from Audax UK if I could complete another Audax of 200km or more this year, I was straight onto their site looking for one. And this from someone who claims to be intrinsically motivated. Complicated, I'm not opening that bag of cats.

Anyway, none of the ones that were geographically close would work from a calendrical point of view. Then I found out about "Permanents". You ride the Audax route, on your own, and prove you have done it. And it counts towards the Randonneur 1000, as long as it's properly validated. You can also start at any of the controls on the route, extending choice.


So it was that I stood outside my house just after dawn yesterday, ready to set out on the 300km ride. Because I had decided to start at the nearest control, this required a ride down to the back entrance of Sedgemoor services (northbound), and getting my Brevet card validated with a stamp and receipt.

That picture above was the last I saw of the sun for a few hours, for I was only a mile from home when the heavens opened and down came the rain. Also going down, and pretty quickly, was me, my bike, and my monumentally over-full saddle-bag.

With three spare tubes, a tool-kit, a spare base-layer, lock (why I took this I have no idea, because I was never confident enough to leave my bike out of sight, locked or otherwise), a huge lighting collection, spare battery bag for the Garmin. And food, lots of food.


The impact of all this extra weight meant I had to control the bike more than I like on the downhills (that's braking for the non-cyclists) and going up hill was a lot slower than I'd appreciate on an already-long day. Of course everything in that bag was 100% necessary. There is no back-up on an Audax, and on a Permanent you are dependent on yourself and your wits for any eventuality. And your mobile phone and debit card of course.

As you would expect, it was pretty quiet at that time on a Saturday. As well as the official controls, there were also three "information" controls. Random and obscure questions about specific points on the route to make sure you go up a particular hill, or to a far-flung corner, and don't take any short cuts. Who would do that? Someone without an obsessive nature probably.

Ironically, one of these Info controls was in Loxton and another halfway up Cheddar gorge.


 
 
But that is hardly the point. The actual Audax usually starts and finishes in Lymington, which would be half-way for me. The route was mainly undulating, with a few tasty climbs thrown in, like Gare Hill near Longleat and the climbs of the escarpments on Cranborne Chase. But for the most part the terrain rolled along. Now this may seem like a good thing, but of course it does mean you pedal more, with fewer descents to get a respite.
 
Speaking of respites, one of the nice things about cycling on your own is you can do what you like, when you like. So stop and make myself more comfortable, raincoat on, gilet off, food stop here, drink stop there. Or just take a photo of something like Nunney castle because I've always wanted to and now I can.
 
 
 
Near the foot of the climb up to Martin, (no relation) was the third Info control, slightly more obscure, and for once the narrow climb was traffic-free as the Police had set up road blocks to recover a vehicle involved in an accident. Which also meant that the long downhill was also free of traffic.
 
 
 
The route-card, a list of every turn and crossroads, and the main way routes like this used to be navigated before Garmin sat-nav came along, also encouraged riders to bring a pen and paper to write things down, like the clue for this control. Nowadays I just take my iPhone.
 
Once through Fordingbridge I was into the that cycling Mecca that is the New Forest. Again on flat roads, by sheer serendipity it went right past my parents' resting place at the Woodland burial site. So I popped in to for a quick chat.
 
 
By now it was getting pretty warm, the rain had long-since stopped, which predictably meant the place was full of cyclists, and after whizzing through Lymington, and popping in to the Museum for a stamp and receipt, it was up onto the moor and the tourist heartland of the Forest. You'd have thought I was one of the tourist attractions myself, the number of odd looks I got whilst eating my sandwiches and drinking my chocolate milk outside a shop in Burley.
 
 
But the clouds were gathering, the rainclouds, and the forecast headwind and heavy showers were also materialising just as I headed back across Cranborne Chase. It was a right slog, and despite the beautiful wide-open skies, it was a relief to get to Shaftesbury, and the opportunity for yet more chocolate milk.
 
 
 
By now my Garmin was benefiting from an additional charging unit, and I hit the 150 mile mark as I headed for the penultimate control at Podimore services. Finally my luck ran out and the rain returned. Unlike the morning when the rain was constant and fairly gentle, this was hard, heavy and very, very wet. By now I was back on familiar Tour of Wessex ground (Day 2 for those interested) except for wiggle around Cadbury castle, which I mentally complained about to myself before this rainbow appeared.
 
 
 
All the people in the various controls were very friendly if slightly bemused at what I was doing. The lady at Lymington was the funniest, she started to sell me the virtues of the town, and encouraged me to come back for a holiday. The two ladies at Sedgemoor were just finishing their shift when I arrived in the morning, and just starting the next one as I arrived at the end.
 
The man in Podimore services had no idea whatsoever what I was talking about, not so much thinking I was bonkers, more doubting I was actually human. I was pretty tired, but couldn't bear food so for a change I had banana milk as I headed towards Glastonbury. I could hear the music, and I like to think it might have been the Manics, but it was more likely to have been Metallica. Anyway, the view south over the levels was much nicer.
 
 
With darkness upon me I was on home turf and just as I swung towards Burtle the heavy rain returned. This time accompanied by a few things that shouldn't have been there. That's because they weren't there, I was hallucinating, and shivering, and very, very cold. I pulled under what shelter I could get from a tree, put on every article of clothing I had with me, and scoffed my emergency rations.
 
It was enough to get me back to Sedgemoor, and then on home. Wiped out, I then proceeded to fall asleep in the bath for 2 hours (not ideal kids!), before collapsing to sleep fitfully through last night, this morning and much of the afternoon. I'm still tired.
 
 
Frustratingly my Garmin failed to provide a map trace of all 210 miles I rode yesterday, although it has provided me with the raw stats. Here is the route, less the ride to and from Sedgemoor. My actual stats were:
 
Average speed 14.7 mph
210.1 miles (336 km) ridden
Total elapsed time of 17 hours 19 minutes.
 
My longest ever ride and probably one of my longest ever posts.  You still here? Well done, quite a long journey wasn't it? Needless to say this will not be the end of my long-distance cycling, but next time I promise not to go on about it on here so much.
 
I'm not the world's or even Winscombe's best cyclist, but I'm OK, and reasonably fit. But I couldn't do it again today. I couldn't even face the ACG trundle over the flat to Glastonbury I was that kyboshed. So how exactly did Tommy do it all those years ago?
 
For the first couple of hours of the ride, in the solitude of the post-dawn hours, I spent the time thinking of all kinds of stuff, and no I'm not telling you what they were. Towards midday, my concentration was on the things I saw and the people I met and passed. By the evening and the final tough hours, I was just forcing myself to turn the pedals and get home. Perhaps I think about all of this too much, but I wonder what Tommy Godwin used to think about. 
 
I used to laugh at my Mum for her unerring propensity to make light of serious incidents, (like my appendicitis and her own cancer) by telling people "not to make a fuss". To do what he did, Tommy must have been stronger than we can possibly imagine. Strong of body for sure, but more importantly, strong of mind and character, the type of strength that knows the time to just get on with it.