Monday, 24 December 2007

Great ride this morning.

Got back in the saddle yesterday,did my part commute to work,to do my night shift,took my time,about an hour taking it easy,normally I would do the run in 40 minutes or so.I enjoyed looking at everything on the way,from the swans,ducks,moorhens,to the ship in the dock,being loaded with scrap,and the canal freezing as I cycled alongside.It was funny to see the moorhens running alon g on top of the ice,while the swans were big enough to glide through it.In Briton Ferry,however,there's a stretch,that doesn't see the sun all day,here the ice,must have been about an inch thick,no ducks etc.,to be seen.It struck me how extremely poor the condition of the canal is,it is full of rubbish,old buckets,bits of metal,chairs etc.,it is a disgrace,and quite frankly there is no excuse for it to be in that state.The problem is all the morons,who constantly dump their refuse in it,why local people,in particular,don't have pride in such a wonderful part of our heritage is beyond me,sadly worse it will get,because there are too few who actually care about anything,the"I'm alright Jack"attitude is everywhere to be seen.I'm afraid I get very pessimistic about it all.

The night shift went off quietly enough,and I couldn't wait to cycle the return leg.My relief came in,and I was soon back on my bike.At 05.40 in the morning it's too dark for me to ride along the canal,so I have to travel the roads.As it is Christmas Eve,today,the roads were very quiet,it was also very mild,with no frost,and a hint of rain in the air.It didn't take long for to get into my stride,I was in the mood,and soon was pedalling at a fast rate,for me anyway,and I made good headway in my 7th and 8th gears,dropping to only 5th for the motorway bridge at Baglan,I made it back to the car in 35 minutes,was very pleased with myself,and felt great to boot.

Returning home,by 06.30,I was in bed by 07.00 and up again by 11.00,I hate staying in bed when I'm nights.Had to do some final shopping for Elizabeth etc.,Conor came over and finally took the table a chairs,from the conservatory,and put together Jack's computer desk,ready for Christmas morning.Keiron jnr got home late this afternoon,and can hardly move he's strained his back somehow,while Tierloch has done littele else but play computer games on his whatever you call it.

It'll be just the four of us for Christmas dinner tomorrow,the ham and the turkey are cooked and ready,Elizabeth,Keiron jnr,Tierloch and myself,while no doubt Anne,Conor and Jack will be making various appearances through the day.But the main thing for me is that I don't sit back and let things slide i.e.,I must get out on my bike in the morning.I've decided to take my commuter,and ride the road to Aberdulais and back.I should be back O.K.,to take Elizabeth to mass,and I can prepare the vegetables while she's there.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Last nightshift,last night..

Weather has turned very cold and frosty,I missed my cycle to and from work,because I had to take Tierloch to the clinic early,this morning because of an infection,well that was what had been planned yesterday,but in the end his pal took him.That means I could have done my cycle commute afterall,the bad part is I really missed doing it.Now I seem to have lost the enthusiasm to cycle locally.I used to cycle the towpath down as far as Aberdulais,about 20 miles,round trip,but my new Carrera Subway 8 bicycle,with its slick tyres,is not suited to the towpath,especially when it's frosty as well,I'd be in the canal before you knew it!So I will have to get my old Raleigh Chiltern out,if I'm to go the towpath route,but thinking about it,the Chlitern's tyres aren't up to it either,I'll have go via the roads.But I must,whatever I do,keep my cycling going everyday,because I find it so benefitial.The major problem is the dark mornings,since I began cycling again,after at least 35 years,I've always done it in the early mornings,I'm definitely a morning person.It was great during the summer,but now,when I'm off work,it means I don't get started till 08.00 and wouldn't be back till 10.00,which isn't fair on she needs me to go shopping with her,help around the house etc.,there's so much,still,to do for Christmas,as well.

Conor needs a table and chairs for his first Christmas with his wife,Anne and her son Jack,so tomorrow he's supposed to be coming over to take our set from the conservatory,take it apart,or he won't get them into his house,without taking a window out.It will be interesting to see if he makes it,because he had his works do,today,I had to pick him up from Swansea very much the worse for wear,from drink.He was to meet Anne in Neath,but now they've had words and he's over the road in his house,alone sleeping it off,I'm very annoyed,because,even though they are all grown up,they seem to make so much demands on our time.He's certainly going to get the silent treatment from both of us tomorrow.

Anyway I'm going to try and fit in a bike ride in the morning,and then do something else with Elizabeth.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Short shift today,but wrong route!

The weather is holding up well,bright sunshine and clear skies,it got a bit windy today,and as a result,I changed my route to cycle to work,for a more sheltered one,so avoiding the seafront of Aberavon.Despite the wind I enjoyed my ride,even though it took a little longer.My shift was a short one,as I was mealbreak relief for my colleagues,taking over their panels,while they had some food in turn.

Why is it when the wind blows it always blows in your face,head on,it did on my way in this morning,and of course,by the time I was cycling home,it had done a 180 degree switch??Consequently,I again took the more sheltered route homeward,avoiding the seashore.As it was earlier in the day,and thus lighter,I was able to go along the canal towpath,where I was able to pass a quick few words with an old chap,on his comfort bicycle(if that's how they're described as) and dressed in ordinary clothes.He was ahead of me,and he had a wonderful method of getting through the cycling gates,that are placed(annoyingly for me) to prevent motorcycles using the towpath.He rode right up to them,dipped one shoulder,slightly turned his handlebars,and without dismounting,went through.Something I was not willing to attempt,by the time he got to the next one,I was right behind him,and he repeated the performance,I said to him that I couldn't manage that,to which he replied,

"Well I've been cycling up and down this canal for 40 years,so I've had alot of practise"

I hope,he and I,will be cycling in another 40 years from now,and able to get through the gates so smoothly,currently I have to dismount every time.

Anyway,returning home Elizabeth said that Conor had told her that a whale had been washed up on Aberavon beach,that hundreds of people had descended on the shore to look at it,fortunately it was a carcass,not alive,but it was huge,20-30 foot long.My avoidance of the wind had meant,I'd missed the opportunity of seeing something,I've never seen before.I consoled myself that I would get to see it on the news this evening,but no,it was not even mentioned!

Tomorrow,I have to go shopping with Elizabeth,and help get things ready for Christmas,not forgetting those--ugh! DIY jobs,I spoke of yesterday.However,I have to go to work for the nightshift,I have to cover for one of the lads who's had a bereavement in his family.So I'll be cycling in tomorrow evening,then home the following morning,which will keep my mileage and exercise up.Then I've got nightshifts on Wednesday,Thursday and Saturday,and off till the Saturday after Christmas,I think I've mentioned this before...

There's more Spanish football tonight,with another visit to 'La Liga',it's Real Madrid tonight,by the way Ronaldinho didn't even play last night,they kept him on the subs' bench for the entire game,and still Barcelona won 3 nil,I must admit,even without him,they played great.Well kick-off is in a few minutes,so hopefully I'll be writing up my experiences tomorrow.

Good night.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Great weather

Uneventful bike commute to and from work today,except to say that it was dry and extremely mild for the time of year,and I really enjoyed my time in the saddle.I travelled much later this morning,because I didn't need to be in till 08.30 or so,and so I saw other cyclists,three in fact,two of whom, I am pleasantly surprised to report actually returned a 'hello' to me,I was beginning to think civility was dead amongst cyclists,thankfully it seems not,well not entirely anyway.

The forecast suggests that this weather is to continue well into next week,I'm in work tomorrow for a short shift 08.00-16.00,so I will be cycling again,but I'm off then Monday and Tuesday,and must give Elizabeth a hand preparing for Christmas,and also do a couple of jobs about the house.Just like my non-mechanical aptitude with my bikes,the skills of DIY about the house also escape me,but I have to give it a go,cleaning a couple of damp patches,that keep coming back,I hope to hide them,if not cure them,for the holiday period,at least.Of course there's the Christmas decorations,that need to be hung,so I can't see me taking a ride on my bike for those two days,but I'm nights Wednesday and Thursday,which will see me back to my commute.Then unless I get an unexpected call,to go in,I'm off straight through,till the Saturday after Christmas.

First time that has happened in quite a few years,so it will be great to spend the time with Elizabeth,at home,no doubt my sons,Keiron,Conor and Tierloch,will be in and out over the holiday,as well,not forgetting Conor's wife Anne,and her son Jack.Slowly but surely the family's getting bigger.

I'll have to sign off,for now,I'm going to watch my favourite football team,on Sky now,i.e.,Barcelona play,in the Spanish league,or 'La Liga' as they say in spanish.I know I'm wandering off the subject of cycling,but it is my blog isn't it?I love all sorts of sports,soccer is one of my favourites.Why Barcelona I hear you ask?The answer is,the one and only, Ronaldinho,simply the best footballer I have ever seen,except possibly,the great Pele,but they are very close.Anyway must dash.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Enjoyed today

Only needed to get to work by 06.00 today,so took the longer route along the seafront of Aberavon,could only see the waves in the distance as white lines,but they were audible in the darkness at approximately 05.30 as I pedalled by.It was dry and cold,but the ice on my car was the thickest so far,as winter sets in, and I lost time scraping it off the windows ready for the first part of my commute,by car to Neath.

Leaving my car in secure(Ihope so)parking at Neath railway station I then cycled on to Port Talbot,via Aberavon seafront,only saw one other cyclist,who was heading toward the steelworks,I could tell,by the distinctive yellow high viz he wore, which Corus,supplies to its employees.While,I have to wear a very old orange high viz jacket,from a previous employer of mine i.e.,Railtrack,I now work for Network Rail,which though it offers the benefits of the Cycl2work scheme,as Corus does, shies away from supplying such jackets to its employees like myself,which I consider ever so mean.My jacket is in need of replacement,it is far from waterproof,and in fact in heavy rain is soaked through in 10 minutes,but I'll have to keep hanging on on for now.

Last night I did a wish list of clothing gear I'd ideally like to make my commuting more comfortable etc.,came to just under £400,well that ain't going to happen soon.The good news is the forecast for the next 5 days is dry,windy and cold,I don't find them a problem,as,so far I've been nice and warm on my commute.

Well that's all I've time for now,so I'll close.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

11th December 2007

Started back commuting on my bike yesterday morning,cycled in to work for my 12 hour dayshift,about 10 miles.The heavy rains stopped on Sunday,I was depressed that I didn't make the effort to get out on my bike all day that day,but made my excuses that I had to do some shopping with Elizabeth (my partner).So that evening,I resolved to prepare for the morning commute,so that I would have no excuses to hide behind.Come Monday morning,as I was cycling to work I was more than gratified,because it was really great to be out there cycling in the fresh air,even though I ended up cycling into a strong wind,and there was a constant threat of rain in the air.My cycling time to work is approx.,45-50 minutes,starting at 04.45 to arrive at work 05.30,I didn't see another cyclist at all,not that I can get even a nod,of recognition from any of them,I think those that I have seen,consider themselves somewhat aloof to me.Still I'm out there because I love to cycle,and I'm determined not to get into whatever mental malaise I was in that,somehow,stopped me geting out on my bike,in those days up to Sunday.

Today saw me repeat my commute of yesterday,and I was even better rewarded for my effort,it was dark,with a very heavy frost,but once I was moving I was snug in my clothes.Not that my gear is up to much,it's what you might call serviceable stuff.It consists of a thick wool beanie style hat,thermal vest(not of the moisture wicking kind),pollo shirt,baggy shorts with the cushioned seat,beat up old trainers,half calf length hiking socks,and an old high visibility jacket (bright orange).No wonder those other cyclists ignore me I must look a right sight.But for the moment these garments do the job,I'm hoping we won't have to experience low temperatures anywhere near those now being felt in the midwest of the USA,if we do,I will have to get a whole new wardrobe,especially having read mncyclist and alaska cyclists' blogs,but at the same time a part of me is very envious of their experiences,ice and snow biking.Still with global warming who knows what's in store for any of us.

Normally,if anyone can use that phrase with any kind of accuracy,the hard winter being felt in the midwest at the moment,travels across the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and arrives,to hit Britain about 4 to 6 weeks later,I hope not,or my gear is going to be completely inadequate,still que sera,what will be,will be...

The important thing is I'm back.....cycling,and must keep it going.I must get a cycle computer so that I can record my mileage day by day,month by month etc., as on the other more professional cyclists' blogs,I've so much to do to get up to speed with the rest of you cyclists.I really don't know where you all find the time.

I'm off from work tomorrow,and I'm afraid I must go with Elizabeth to make and get the preparations in order for Christmas,only a fortnight from today,and as Elizabeth says we've loads to do,no excuses this time,Thursday I'm back on days,right through till Monday,so I should,sorry will be comuting everyday!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Well here goes...

We've had nothing but heavy rain and wind now for three days,seems like non-stop.I began part commuting by bike to and from work in earnest on Sunday 25th November '07,and because I work 12 hour shifts and alot of overtime,ended up doing it 7 days on the trot.It was wet and windy most days,and my colleagues at work thought me mad,and constantly told me so,which spurred me on,even more.But the truth is the weather wasn't a burden in any way,as all you commuters know, it is quite rare to have constant rain,to get really soaked on one's commute,either that or I was extremely lucky.

My commute (when I'm on days) begins at 04.00 when I get up,then drive to my cycle start position by 04.25,unload my bike off the bike rack,which I then store in my carboot,then cycle the remaining 9 miles to my work.The return process begins at 17.30 and I'm usually home by 18.45,so quite a long day,but the benefits far outweigh my effort.

Just before I started cycling again,after not riding a bike for some forty years ,about 18 months or so ago I was 17 stone plus (that's over 224 lbs),had high blood pressure and could barely run.Now I feel great and look foreward to every chance I can to cycle.

But today makes the third day in a row that I haven't been on my bike,I'm using the weather as an excuse,I know,or perhaps I pushed it too hard doing my commute 7 days on the trot,or am I just kidding myself and being lazy.Yes we're both right,it's the latter! Never mind there's always tomorrow,and Saturday I have another day shift to get me back on the straight and narrow.