Thursday, 31 December 2009
I'm determined to go for a ride in the morning, because there's a saying about doing things on New Years day, which totally escapes me for the moment. Something along the lines of .... if you do something on New Years day, you'll be doing alot of the same through the new year....
Suppose I'm just superstitious.
It's dry out and so, even though the temperature is forcaste to drop to -3 degrees centigrade, means there should be no ice out there in the early hours to ambush me. No exercise on the bike has left me feeling, I don't know, just old. I'm feeling stiff after sitting down for an hour, and my legs are creaking, when I walk up and down stairs. It's amazing how quickly, and by the way, I would never describe myself as being anywhere near fit, one loses any kind of tone/capability/ or fitness for an activity of some sort.
Which obviously means, I've got to regain that "tone", or whatever you wish to call it. Sadly, that makes the pimple of a hill, at Aberdulais, which I've always thought of as my nemesis, even more daunting.
Wish me luck for the morning, and a Happy New Year to everyone out there in cyberspace, cheers.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Up and down the street doesn't count. Didn't want to ride her on my commute, partly that, " oh I can't get it dirty", because it's new and shiny, but mostly because I need to get used to the new set up, i.e., the new Brookes saddle, and the 7 extra gears compared to my trusty Subway 1. Sice then it began snowing, and we've ended up with 4 inches of the stuff, that's been hanging around ever since in the form of ice, which after last year's fall I've got a very natural aversion to. So the poor girl's been locked up in the shed, all this time.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
I've been picketing outside my place of work, Port Talbot panel, and sadly had to witness, colleagues who resigned from the union, because they didn't like the ballot result, a weeks strike, going into work across the picket line. But Newport and Cardiff panels are all out. The company has drafted in managers from all over the country, to run the panels. The beauty is they are working 12 hour shifts to cover our absence, on top of which they have only had a few hours instruction on the panels. The last guy to qualify/ sign for our panel, at Port Talbot, took 6 months to do so. It must be a safety issue, but the regulating authorities, despite being informed of these irregularities, all turn a blind eye, on these occasions. Which basically means they are all in cahoots, even the government is on their side.
Ultimately, they, the company and government, want to defeat the unions, force down wages and workers conditions of service, such as pension rights, because the bankers have virtually bankrupted the country, while the government watched on and did nothing. Now they want the public to pay for their ( the bankers ) greed, and their ( the government's ) amateurism and incapability.
The lies they all tell, and it is we the public, who let them get away with it, everytime.
Who's going to fight back?
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
For the past couple of months I've been more involved with my union, the RMT. as the Area Council Rep, it's time consuming, and my employers expect me to carry out my duties in my own free time, which is grossly unfair, as they the employers use their work time to prepare for meetings etc., using a battery of secretaries and human resources staff. Anyway there's alot going on at the moment, and it's all very frustrating. Can't say more than that.
Well that was yesterday. Still haven't typed much eh?
This morning I went out on my regular cycle loop, down the valley, as far as Aberdulais, then back up through Cwmgwrach ( that's valley of the witches, to you non welsh speakers ), around Pont Nedd Fechan, and back home. A round trip of about 23 miles, it threatened rain throughout, I only got damp, more from perspiration than precipitation. The weather remains so very mild, it 's difficult to know what to wear. I enjoyed the ride very much, but I'm starting to feel trapped in this valley, I need to spread my wings and cycle further afield.
Trouble is it's all very steep climbs to get out of this lovely Neath valley, and I'd be worn out before I got very far. I've been 'safe cycling', by that I mean, not too many hills, in this valley for the best part of nearly 5 years now, and though I keep planning that long trip, it never materialises. Life in general, and family committments keep getting in the way, but I suppose that's the same for the majority of people, unless one is wealthy, either in time to spare, or with plenty of money, sadly I have neither.
I'm currently waiting for my new bike. It's to be a backup for my present workhorse, the Carrera Subway 1, it'll be the Subway LTD, which is a limited edition of the Subway. I'm having a Brookes saddle, fenders, pannier rack, and a riser stem fitted, and I've already picked up a load of cycling clothes and gear. It's all come from Halfords, which is why I'm still waiting for the extras to be fitted to it, they blame their suppliers, but it's the same old story.....
So far I've been patient, as my hack bike, the Subway 1 has been catering very well with my cycling desires. I cycle every day, either commuting, or on my local valleybound loops, and nowadays must average around 200 miles a week, but I can't be exact as my cycle computer packed up months ago. That's another extra that will be on the LTD.
Getting back to the new bike, it's got disc brakes, plus 21 as opposed to the 1's 14 gears, but instead of twistgrip shifters it'll have triggers, which I'm a bit nervous of, but I'll have to make the effort and get used to them. I'm a bit worried about the tyres that are fitted, and I expect I'll be changing them to Continentals, the same model as on my Subway 1. They've given me such great service over these last 12 months or so, and must have completed 8,000 miles for me, it's only now that the back tyre is starting to show a couple of bare patches. So I love these tyres. Fortunately, I've got a spare pair plus inner tubes to match in the shed, the first time I spot trouble.
Now to the new gear. I've bought 5 cycling specific T-shirts with zip up fronts, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 waterproof jackets, a cycling jersey, 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of glasses, a pair of cycling shoes, a spare set of pedals, and a new front light. All this is aimed at keeping my commute going throughout the winter, as long as I don't have to contend with ice, which is the only weather that will chase me back into my car. I know that sounds wimpy, but after that fall I had a couple of weeks before Christmas last year, I'm definately no hero.
Why so much gear? I hear you ask, well when I went to Halfords, there was a buy one item get another half price, so I think overall I got some great bargains. Did I mention also, I had the bike, which was originally £399, knocked down to £200 ! So I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, and now I've told you, my imaginary readers, about it all, I'm getting rather impatient to get on the LTD, and go for a ride.
For now the bike, itself, is just missing the riser stem, which won't be in store, I'm told, till next week, and the only things that haven't arrived on the clothing front are the 3 pairs of socks, which have been on order since the middle of August ?? For some unknown reason they never come in on the weekly order to Halfords, despite being ordered over and over again. They are a fantastic bargain if one, and I admit I know nothing about socks, can go by price. They were originally on sale at £34.99 but I'm getting them for £11.99 a pair, they're called Gore Alpine socks. If they're as good as the hiking socks I've been wearing for cycling the last couple of years, they'll be great.
It's now 8th December, so I didn't type or finish this post,.....yet !
Alot has happened since I started it, we're going on strike, as and, from next Monday, 14th December, for a week. I'm not looking forward to it, I don't want to lose a week's pay, and it's going to cause alot of grief between some of us at work.
I've finally picked up my LTD, last Thursday, the only thing I needed to do was adjust the saddle, which I did after I got back from my normal loop, on the Subway 1, down and back up the valley, this morning. I believe I got the adjustment perfect first time, but I couldn't savour my new Brookes saddle for long. Because, even though, as I rode down the street, slipping through the gears, everything seemed fine, yet another problem was looming, the gear triggers seemed to pack up, couldn't change gear at all, and the LTD is now permanently stuck in a very low gear. I'm far from thrilled. I just hope I'm not in for the same misery that I had to put up with via Halfords, when I first had the Subway 8.
Already this year, my Bike2Work deal with Halfords, has gone far from smoothly. Constant delays, and false starts getting the gear, I ordered, into the store. I don't blame the staff at the store, their head office is entirely to blame. I ordered the socks I mentioned earlier in this post back in August, I never got them.
Staff, at the store, said they ordered them 10 weeks on the trot, and 10 weeks on the trot they didn't arrive, so I took the bull by the horns and emailed head office, to make a formal complaint. I got a reply, asking for more details, despite the fact that I'd given all the relevant facts. So I replied with a very terse reply, threatening to ask for my £800 Cycle2Work scheme voucher, if I didn't receive the socks by the Tuesday of the following week, and they could have all the gear I'd received to date, back.
Next day Halfords customer services rang me. I was assured that I would receive my socks as ordered by the Tuesday, delivered to my home address. Tuesday came and went and the socks didn't arrive, I wasn't surprised, it was just the usual Halfords crap service. Wednesday, I had another phonecall from customer services, to be told that the socks had now been discontinued, they apologised for this fact. I told them that I was now very unhappy indeed, they asked if I would consider alternative socks, Sealskinz, that they would give me 2 pair gratis. I told them I would consider their offer.
That night I went onto Halfords internet site, and found the original socks I had ordered were still being advertised, and more to the point, one could order them for delivery!
Next day I rang customer services, pointing out this strnge fact, to be told that their IT department had been instructed to remove the item. Now to cut a long story a little bit shorter, as I was now, so fed up with the whole thing that I agreed to accept the 2 pair of Sealskinz socks for free, they were to be delivered to my home by the Thursday.
On the Thursday, Elizabeth and I had to go to Swansea, anyway, so I decided to pick up my new Cycle2Work bike, the Carrera Subway LTD. While I was in the store, Russell the bike section manager, offered his profuse aplogies that they still had't received into stock my original Gore Alpine socks, that both he, and the store manager, had been onto head office, that day, complaining about the fact that they had been constantly ordering these socks, week in week out, never to be delivered, AND HAD BEEN ASSURED THAT THEY WOULD BE DELIVERED INTO THE STORE THE FOLLOWING WEEK!!!
I then told Russell what had been going on between customer services and myself, that we had come to a compromise with 2 pair of free Sealskinz socks, and that obviously no one in his company communicated with each other, but I was good natured about it, I just wondered if my free socks would be at home waiting for me, when I brought the LTD back.
That was a good bit of news, the Sealskinz did arrive safely, I've used them a couple of times now, and am very impressed, they are 100% waterproof, which they should be at £25 a pair, it's just a shame that Halfords couldn't be half as efficient!
Now, as I've said the gears on my new LTD aren't working, what a farce.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Then along by the canal at Abergarwed, you can see what pride the canal neighbours take in their gardens that back right onto the canal.
Not only was the sun shining but I saw two lesser spotted woodpeckers at Resolven, one flew across the road and settled on a telephone pole, and was soon joined by another, of course by the time I'd stopped, got off the Subway 1, and got my camera out, they were high in a tree and out of sight. But it's the first time I've ever seen one let alone two, and it's up there with the thrill of seeing the otter and her cubs last year.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
This is where the but, or should I say butt, as far as this tale, or tail.... oh I can't help it!!..., comes in.
I worked on Sunday, but (butt) couldn't manage to cycle because of saddlesores. Recently I bought some base layer boxer shorts, with the padding, insert thingy, normally I use vaseline in the delicate places, but Thursday I forgot. As a result of the newness of the padding, and the lack of vaseline, I ended up with some chafing, which was sore on the way home that night. I treated said chafing, managed the trip Friday with only some discomfort, but by Saturday night's trip homeward, I was really struggling. So Sunday I had to take the car, discretion being the very best of valour. I've since stayed off the saddle for two days, and am hopefully ready to ride again tomorrow.
A sad tail, I think you'll agree.
Butt! what makes it all the sadder is the fact that the week has been glorious, sun shining, blue skies etc., a complete joy to be out there cycling. Still a valuable lesson learned, which I won't forget, if one isn't comfortable on the bike, it ruins the ride, so I'll make certain, those nether regions are taken care of, in the future.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Well I tried to fix the photo adjusting problem on this blog, but using 'system restore', which I thought would solve it, hasn't worked. So I'm going to have to press on and put up with it, hopefully only for a while, jnr where are you when I need you?
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Monday, 9 March 2009
It didn't take that long, and I suppose I won't win any prizes for the result, but the Subway looked 100% better, even though I cut a few corners.
I should have taken the "before shot", but forgot in a haze of enthusiasm for the job at hand. Above is a view of the Subway half-washed plus all my bike washing gear, which was christened today, having been stored in the shed for at least the last 2 years.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Enough fantasising, and by the way I've discovered a new blog, well actually I've been reading it for a while now, " Bikeskirt," I have to say I enjoy it, gives me a great perspective on what youngsters are doing on their bikes in the USA. I don't believe we have quite the same bike culture here in the UK amongst our set of young people, and it's a shame. God I'm really sounding my age these days. But back to fantasising, I just don't see any young women riding bicycles, at all, in my part of the world, and it's much the poorer for it.
So come on girls, get out there on your bikes, believe me the lads will soon follow.
Well back to me and my riding. I've had a couple of weeks off work, due to a combination of leave and my wonderful shift roster. During that time I went out every day for a leisure ride, between 07.30 and 10.00 round Glynneath and surrounds, did at least 20 plus miles each time, and really enjoyed tootling along looking for subjects etc., to photograph. But then, when it was time to return to work we had a couple of downpours of snow, and the return of very wintery weather, which kept me off my commute, taking to my car. I had a few days of wishing the snow and ice would go away for good, so I could return to my commuting.
That time came, much too slowly for my liking, at the beginning of last week, so I've been back to my commute and enjoying every minute. On top of that my speeds, not that I'm really concerned about my pace to get from A to B, have increased alot, my normal commute is about an hour and a half, these past two days I've covered the 20 miles in 70 minutes. No, I know I won't be troubling Lance Armstrong etc., but I have surprised myself, and inwardly, I feel some accomplishment. Perhaps, at long last, I've improved my pedalling efficiency and style to improve my power ratio? Yes you've guessed, I don't know what I'm talking about. Best thing is, I'm feeling really good as well. Just need that lottery win now, to sideline work and take it right out of the equation of my life. That way I can concentrate on what my family and myself want to do, for me that's my bicycling and I'd like to just let myself "go" at writing. You can all laugh now, but I see this blog of mine as a bit of practise. I'd like to get into the habit of writing something everyday, much easier said than done.
I'm so envious of other bloggers who write so well, eruditely and succinctly. My posts tend to go on quite a bit, while I love to read those few lines that some bloggers can put together which sum up their thought or experiences, in a paragraph. Great stuff.
Once again time has defeated me, I hope to get back to you all soon.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Having said that, the weather here has been changeable to say the least. Last weekend it was cold and icy, so much so that I got my new trainer out, for a first go on Saturday. Thanks to my son Tierloch, who solved my inevitable misconstruction, it was ready and waiting to be connected up to the Subway. I'd got up early, which I usually do when I'm going on one of my leisure rides, but chickened out as soon as I saw frozen water, on the back path. So I set the trainer up and attached the Subway, and was taking my first tentative pedal strokes at 07.30. I tried the various resistance settings, and was impressed.
The first commute after my efforts on the trainer was great, I kept imagining to myself that my leg strength had improved, but after that my trips to and from work became really hard work, and I seemed to be getting overly tired for no reason.
Here is the drive up to the big house, on the right is perhaps a gatekeepers house. Note the sweep of the road with an old dissused factory on the left.
This is the gatekeeper's house again showing it's relationship with the workers' cottages and the stables.
This is a stream which has been walled either side, and is a major feeder for the canal across the road. If you expand the picture you will see it also acts as an overflow for Rheola pond on the right.
Another shot looking up towards the big house, set in the trees at the back of the bold sweep of grass, between the stables on the right and the main house itself.
I said the factory was dissused, but in fact it is now in use by demolition experts, who reclaim stone and timbers from old schools and churches etc., selling it all on to be used again. The factory building meanwhile has found a new purpose, being used every Saturday to house an indoor market, which is very popular in these parts.
As I left the factory I noticed a farmer feeding some horses, across the road, on the other side of the canal, I said a quick hello, and took a couple of picture of their horses.
I stopped to take the above photo, it shows a small barge that is used to cut back weeds from the canal sides, a lock and an overflow, used to take excess water away when the lock is closed.
I took this shot from the canal towpath looking north at Rheola forest, which occupies the escarpment separating the Neath valley from Crynant and Seven Sisters.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
My worry is that it'll be icy and slippery tomorrow, when I have to return to work. I'm still a big coward of icy roads and paths. I've swapped so have to be in by 08.00, not my usual 05.30. I'm hoping things will be clear and dry by 06.00., when I have to start the trip.
Yesterday I went for a ride on the Subway, around the local area. I took quite a few photographs, but that is when my lack of expertise came through, and big time. I went out as early as I could, just as the light was dawning in the valley. But it remained not light enough for the next hour or so, and my pictures came out too dark to show any of the detail, that I wanted to show. So I've only uploaded the best of a bad lot.
On the same bridge looking at the A465 as it rises, on its built up embankment, to cross above the underpass.
Just a nice shot of the river, well it would have been, if I'd known what I was doing photographically, as it heads towards one of the A465 flyovers.
This is some waste ground between the river and the A465, note the surface water, which illustrates how much rainfall we've had these past days and nights.
Same waste ground looking in the other direction.
I thought this could be a lovely shot, but the light let me down. It shows an old rail bridge, with footpath, which in its heyday, helped carry coal from Merthyr down to Swansea docks.
The same bridge looking straight across it, the rails and sleepers are still in place, I think the footpath must have been added later, which judging by the sign, hasn't lasted as well.
Monday, 19 January 2009
Got called in for an overtime shift last Saturday. The forecast was dreadful, but I went on my Subway 1 anyway. I expected to get drenched, however, the ride into work wasn't anywhere as bad, as that. Had to put up with a bit of a headwind, while travelling down the valley, but hardly got wet.
While at work, the weather worsened all through the day, just as the weathermen had forecast, so by the time came to make the trip home, there were gale force winds and deluges of heavy rain, blowing and falling. The lads at work all agreed I must be mad to travel home on the bike in such weather. Kerwin even offered to drive me and the Subway home. I thanked them all for their concern, insisting I'd cycled home before in even worse conditions.
The winds were fierce, but in fact were mainly at my back, and being well prepared gearwise, my beanie hat, goretex workcoat, waterproof trousers, and neoprene overshoes, all kept the rain at bay. The ride was fantastic, I don't believe I've ever experienced such a tailwind before. It made cycling back up the valley, and particularly the hill at Aberdulais, a breeze, if you'll excuse the pun. It was almost like surfing the wind.
Normally the return trip from work to home takes me an hour and a half, Saturday I did it in 75 minutes, with no extra effort on my part, it was all down to mother nature.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
This is where I made my first breathless stop, probably a third of the way up the aforementioned Rhigos bank, looking back down the hill. Below is a pretty waterfall, that I "had" to take a picture of, for my second.
While this one below, is taken from close to the top of the Rhigos bank, looking back down and across the Neath valley, please excuse the raindrops on the photo.
This one isn't a very good shot, but the best I could do from the roadside. The houses that are peaking through the trees, are Pontneathvaughan, or Pontneddfechan in Welsh, a small village about 2 miles up the valley from Glynneath, Cwm Nedd in Welsh.
Another shot from the top, looking north towards the Black mountains, if my geography is correct.
All in all it was a good morning's ride, I left at about 09.30, got to Pete's at roughly 10.45, spent an hour over a couple of cups of tea chatting, he also told me a few things about this digital camera of mine, that I know next to nothing about. Consequently, I now can store vast quantities of photos on it, instead of being limited to only 12. The trip back home was uneventful, but I did get very wet, and I discovered a new bicycle path, the Cynon trail, which I will need to explore in the future.
So a nice morning and I learnt something as well, to take the time to warm-up, before going straight into a climb, as well as better knowledge of my camers, cheers.