Riding bikes and making friends

I ride bikes. I think people are aware of that. This week has been pretty good for riding bikes.  It’s been fairly sunny this week, so after the deep dark gloom of never-ending winter I definitely felt that the summer was here. This made me realise that rather than moaning about not being able to ride my bike on Sunday mornings, I COULD RIDE IT ON SUNDAY NIGHTS INSTEAD.

Game changing! Thinking outside the box! EMPLOY ME to make changes in YOUR ORGANISATION!

Anyway.

On Saturday I had family plans and had to ensure I was back in sufficient time to be able to go out again. Yet also be satisfied with my bike ride, and suitably tired. But not so tired that I couldn’t speak. This meant that Bash Club was not an option, too late a start, far too likely to leave me unable/unwilling to do anything but grunt at my family.

I could do (epic) laps of Richmond Park! No. That’s just not even an option. It was slightly sunny, I wouldn’t get there until just before 8 probably. Team Sky would be holding auditions for domestiques and alpine specialists from 830 onwards. I would hate to have to turn down an offer of riding the cobbles, smashing the Tour of Britain, or working hard at the front in the Giro because I’ve already made a commitment to my club mates for this season. So, no, Richmond Park would not be an option.

I could turbo. No. Not an option. NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND. The sun is shining. I am not wasting this opportunity for two hours of bike for one hour of bike going nowhere. Sort of fast. Listening to this.

A victim.

Again.

So. That really only left this.

It was on this ride that I realised, the shop had been right when they said I needed a new cassette. Not being able to use the lower range of the cassette was quite problematic. And is my excuse for not doing better on some of these highly desired Strava sections.

After a particularly crazy couple of weeks with Alex working on at least 212 projects all requiring silk sheets, hand crafted buttons made from butter, and the ability for the project owners to fly without feeling sick, there’s been a brief respite from it all and life has now moved to the the other extreme. Everyone is at home, Alex is able to take Miriam to the childminder and collect her as well. Which meant that Tuesday could be a day for riding a bike again. Tuesday nights are off the cards for a long time. But Tuesday mornings? That could work right?

Which meant, what could I do before going to work? EPIC LAPS OF REGENT’S PARK!

Even stuck going round and round in circles feels different, when the sun is shining and the roads are empty. Watching people as I was going around and around was interesting. There was a clear change in the people present in the park as time progressed, initially the population was predominantly joggers and runners. Then people walking to work. The bike users of the park increased as it got to 8 am, mostly commuters, then weirdly as I was finishing more people in lycra. Avoiding the rush and going to work late? Taking time off work? Either way,  the park in the morning was more enjoyable than the park in the evening. My last experience was of someone tagging on to me and then not doing a turn that was helpful to me. AND THEY HAD A POSH BIKE.

And finally, Thursday night. Thursdays are the new Tuesdays. FACT!

I spent £8.60 to go on another brilliant night ride out in Kent. With the two Sams.

That’s all I kept seeing last night. Oast houses everywhere. And Exedown radio mast.

There were barely any cars out on the lanes, the moon was huge, pink and there was a partial eclipse. We got to the station with 7 minutes to spare, and one of the Sam’s cheekily stole the victory sprint to the station.  The last time I caught the train home from this station I was in bits. It was windy, I’d been on TT route, the final hill destroyed me, I was seeing stars, there were some kids smoking weed on the station. I was in a weird place without taking any drugs.  This time, I felt alright. We all had a chat and then two of us went home.

And that’s when we started making friends with Sasha. A slightly sunburnt, fully inebriated, 21 year old. It wasn’t so much a chat, more an open mic comedy night audition. Topics covered included racing bikes, self harm, parenting, drinking, fun fairs in Kent, the other youths on the train, value for money in Kent vs London (“£8.40 for 4 of these (Union black cider (8.4%) and 10 fags”), the fact you couldn’t buy strong booze in London (I had to disagree and tried to point him towards Okacim, although to be honest I don’t think Sasha was a listener).

Tomorrow, is Bash Club. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid Anerley on the way home this time.

 

Last night’s song seems obvious now.

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Riding bikes and making friends

Solar power

Here in London’s famous London the weather has apparently changed rapidly from permanently wet and dark to bright sunshine and longer nights.

This isn’t quite the view from my kitchen window, as the flowers aren’t out yet. But in the last two weeks I’ve noticed the rapid growth of our Lamprocapnos spectabilis and the Wisteria sinensis  looks like it’s going to go mental in the next month or so.

This increase in sunshine has changed my mood completely.

Solar power

 

I have stolen this from here (an excellent resource of words about bikes, aerobongo and carbon bongo being favourite phrases right now).

 

I’m reposting it because, I thought “even I could ride those and not crash, they can’t crash those things right?”.

 

8-11 seconds. Look at that. I could be a trike pilot.

 

In which hope promises so much.

After the longest coldest winter known to recent bicycle converts like me, there appears to be the faint glow of light in the sky. The nights are longer. The air feels warmer.

Can this be what they call “Spring”? I’m not taking my mudguards off yet. Basically because they’re on there permanently or as good as permanently. (Thanks crudcatcher race guards).

Last Thursday I was fearfully creeping down inclines in the dark, with a brake that didn’t really work. Today, I have a new set of forks to install on the nice bike (but that might wait until the weekend). My training bike is now 10 speed and now has a new seatpost and decent bar wrap. That is exciting.

And, just to add to the increasing levels of excitement in my bike related world, there’s the possibility of a new project.

Project MumBike 2.0.

 

 

In which hope promises so much.

Taking huge nocturnal risks

Riding bikes is fun.

Riding bikes with friends is fun.

Riding bikes down quiet lanes not that far from central London is fun.

Add all three together and then throw in medium fixed gear (46:18) and night time and you end up doing something like this:

I’ve not been out on a bike at night for a couple of weeks, due to the nice bike being off the road thanks to my amazing bike-seeking skills at a crit race in March. I’m always a little apprehensive going down hill, “Death destruction terror” and “oh fuck” “oh fuck” are mantras repeating through my head.  Throw in a couple of steep descents and the lack of a freewheel, the feeling of not being fully in control, a brake that just doesn’t seem to be doing ANYTHING and, well, there were a few hairy moments.

Apart from the comedy “no brakes” that went on in my head on the last downhill section, it wasn’t comedy. I was fucking terrified at one point, the ride brought back so many great physical and emotional memories.

When I first got into riding my bike in London, I went on a couple of night rides to Brighton. This pushed me towards Tuesday night rides. Which showed me how far off the pace I was.

I started going out on Sundays with people, in the day time, to get better. The day I got up Leith and Whitedown with one gear was monumental. This led to more Tuesday night riding, joining a club and starting to contemplate buying gears.

Last night brought back the same scared sensations of going downhill in the dark and not knowing if I could stop my bike. Unfortunately, the person I normally turned to and laughed/moaned about this wasn’t there. They’re out doing audaxes and carpentry now. I think.

Physically climbing Exedown felt terrible yesterday. Watching two red lights disappear up the road and then watching them separate as the gradient began the selection was quite something.

Sections of mud, shite, gravel, pot holes, the stench of weed/cow shit, a dead fox, a toad, decent climbs, cowardly descending, a mad run into the station on the way back, a detour around Anerley with flat section and the desire to beat the final bell at the pub at the end of my street.

We missed the pub by 10 minutes. I think we should have chanced our arms with a cheeky request.

I got home slightly feral, had a protein drink, a shower, and slept soundly.

Anyway, these two songs popped into my head this morning as I rode into work. 

Taking huge nocturnal risks

Leon Russell

This popped into my music player at work just know.

Leon Russell

Donny Hathaway

Herbie + Christina

Apart from the big drums, I quite like the Herbie + Christina. The listening, not the watching. Whereas the watching and the listening of Leon Russell is appealing. Strong look.

Video

Woah!

Who wants to help out a friend of mine?

We all do right?

This guy :

Nikiah Potts
Ouch. That’ll polish out right?

 

Is trying to get his business up and running. He’s 16 and some of the stuff he’s making is gruesome. He’d like to continue improving his work.

If you’d like to make a donation to getting him started with his special effects/make up company fearwithin, you could always visit here and make a donation.:

 

Muchos muchos.

 

Woah!