I'm afraid I've been repeatedly putting off writing something for this blog of mine, I rarely get any comments, but I do want to continue with it, if only as a form of diary. When I logged in, I was amazed to see that my last post was so long ago, 10th March to be exact.
What have I done? What has happened between then and now?
I'll have to put my thinking cap on, my memory is dreadful at the best of times, but let me try to recount a few things. If I go for three headings, and I'm thinking out loud here, of say work, leisure and home, perhaps I can jog a few things to pop into my head.
Right work, I'm still having to go, haven't won the lottery to give me the choice not to. My mum always told me that having money doesn't guarantee happiness, my reply was always the same, give me loads of money to find out, then if I didn't like it I could give it away. So I'm still waiting for such an opportunity to come my way.
The prospect of a strike still hangs over us, the company is digging in, and insisting that we accept a 2 year deal, even after resumed talks with our union. On top of that the company has changed our pension plan unilaterally, with no consultation whatsoever, that worries me the most. Locally, in my place of work, Port Talbot power box, management continue to take extreme liberties with our conditions of service, so much so, that I felt the need to write direct to the union leadership, to ask what it was going to do about it. I wrote that letter on the 18th March, had an acknowledgement of it 2 days later, and have heard nothing since, so I'm not happy at all, and am reiterating the thought, what am I paying my subs for?
Under the heading of work, my commuting by bike must be included. I'm pleased to say, that I continue to do my part commute, regularly and have not missed travelling by bike for any of my shifts since my last post. Currently, I'm up to 11 miles each way, and seem to have more energy for commuting than my leisure rides. One of the reasons for this, I believe, could be that I'm under pressure to get to and from work on time, while when I'm out for "a ride", I take it alot easier, looking for excuses to stop etc.. It's a strange one, but I'm basically a lazy type, a psychiatrist would have a field day studying me.
But I digress, getting back to my commuting, I've really enjoyed all my trips, though I've had some proper drenchings, and the winds have been particularly fearsome on a few occasions, always, it seems, blowing head on, to the direction I'm travelling in. The two days that I remember, the winds were at their worst, I recall getting home and not only feeling great, but also proud of myself for slogging it out. Of course there were days that were gloriously sunny, and the ride saw me see some wonderful vistas along the seashore at Aberavon, as well as a fantasic red sky over the Neath valley.
My mileages, compared to most of you other bloggers, appear to be very low, since putting the cyclometer on my bike, I've done a total of 872 miles. I'm not very good at keeping records, so haven't even recorded what date I started with the cyclometer, or separated out my leisure rides, from my commutes. For arguements' sake, I'll settle for 300 miles a month this year, there have been several occasions, when I've forgotten to set up the cyclometer on the bike, especially after unloading the bike off my car, to start my commute by bike. I prefer to take my lights, bags, and the cyclometer off my bike while it travels in the bicycle rack on the car, I've lost one set of lights by leaving them on the bike in that way, I don't want a repeat.
Turning now to leisure time, which is basically my time off work. I try to go for a ride everyday that I'm not in work. Though I have to admit I'm not as successful at this as my commuting. Not many leisure trips stand out in my mind, and I've yet to top my 28 miler I spoke about in my last post. Perhaps it's all too predictable, I cycle down the valley, taking detours up to Pontneathvaughan and around Cwmgwrach before cycling to Resolven, when I'm in the mood I continue down towards Neath. But, and it is a big but, these days, because between Resolven and Neath I have to travel up a hill, just past the Rock and Fountain pub, which I've come to dread. Why I don't know, it's not particularly long, and save for the first 100 yards, not that steep. When I first started cycling, I couldn't manage to get all the way up, as time progressed I got better, till not so long ago, I was completing the climb, half way up in 6th, then the remainder in 4th, but well winded at the top.
I believe there are number of things that play on my mind when attempting to climb this, what has become, a very sgnificant, hill for me, and no doubt the psychiatrist I spoke of earlier, would find alot to fathom from what I'm about to say. The first thing is I feel self-conscious on approach to the hill, when to change gear, first from 8th to 6th, then again from 6th to 4th, as well as being viewed by the occupants of passing cars, who I feel will chuckle at my efforts to attain the top. The second is, I suppose, a form of laziness, in that I don't want to get all sweaty and feel uncomfortable for the remainder of my ride. Now to be kind to myself, part of the answer could be in wearing the right gear i.e., cycle specific clothing, that way I needn't fear getting overly sweaty. The shrink, no doubt, would be required to help me with my self-consciousness.
Meanwhile, the borough council is rebuilding the canal aquaduct over the Neath river, which could, if I'm so inclined, negate the need to climb this hill, in the future. I know it's the coward's way out, but I can't wait, at least I'd have the choice to travel the hill or not.
Which brings me finally to what's been happening at home. I'm still being very successful at dodging doing chores in the house. My bike rides are normally completed by 09.00 each morning, Elizabeth wants loads done in the house, but we always end up going for a walk, along Aberavon seafront, Mumbles, Swansea marina, Llansamlet lake or even around Aberdare. However, I still continue to purchase goods to do something with in the future, latest is a garden shed, delivered today in kit form. I asked a local builder a couple of weeks ago to give me a quote to provide a concrete base, but either he's too busy or thinks the job too small, because he hasn't come back to me with a figure. My neighbour Keith, next door, thinks we should do it ourselves and save some money. As usual, I like the "idea" of doing it myself, (with Keith and Tierloch's help), but I have to have the time i.e., not be called to work, then we have to have the weather on our side, and most difficult of all, all three of us available at the same time.
The new shed is demanded because my current one, built by the aforementioned builder, is bursting at the seams, with 6 bikes and all kinds of other clutter. It's a major job extracting my commuter each day, let alone getting the ladder out, or a garden tool. This new one, yet to have it's base set down, or even constructed, will, I hope, give me room to "work" on my bikes. A novel idea for someone, such as myself, with no machanical skills at all, but I must give it a go. Once it's in situ, I'll be buying or improvising a workstand, to hold the bike while I lube or clean the chain etc.. Which reminds me, I'm still waiting for a phonecall from Halfords, about the riser stem I ordered and paid for 3 weeks ago, not forgetting a new saddle, they were to put away for me when new stock came in.
Why the need for these? I think the problems I've been having with my hands lately is because the handlebars on my commuter, the only bike I ride these days, are too low, while the new saddle, which has a cut out section in the middle will, I hope, cure the discomfort I suffer from in the nether regions, well fingers crossed anyway. But I won't find out until they're on the bike and I'm riding it. I think I'll give Halfords a call now......STILL WAITING FOR IT TO COME INTO STOCK!!! So annoying.
On that note I'll call it a day for now.