Thursday, 12 August 2010

Just have to get it off my chest now.

What is it with car drivers lately?

I've been cycling on the roads, hereabouts for the best part of 6-7 years now, and it seems that in the past couple of weeks, their patience with cyclists has evaporated completely. Tonight, on my way home I had a close shave, far too close for comfort. I was waiting at a red light, and I heard a car pull up behind me, no problem,waiting for the lights to change to green, just like me. It was two way traffic, one lane each way. The light went to green and I set off, wen this sports car accelerated past me, only a couple of inches from my outside pedal, as he squeezed past and between me and the oncoming traffic. I was outraged that he could risk injury to me like that, and responded with the universal wanker sign as he sped away.

This is the third time cars have come within inches of me in this past week alone. I have to admit I'm really starting to worry about my safety, and I shouldn't have to do so.

I really must get a muvie spycam asap., so that I can have these barstards on film at least, as they go about risking my life and limb, and I, at least have a chance of bringing them to book, hopefully not posthumously.

They are just going mad?

Is it because, all of a sudden, there are alot more cyclists out there? That drivers have become even more resentful of them being on their roads?

I don't know, but I do know it's got an awful lot more dangerous out there, in a very short space of time.

Take care.


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Standing still...

Weighed myself today, no progress yet. The scales said 16 stone dead, no change at all. The good news is, I should say bad, but, I haven't been on my bike since last Saturday, when I cycled home from work. This means that now I'm eating less?? when I start back commuting to and from work, tomorrow, I'll be burning calories, hopefully more than I consume.

I suppose it's the relative non activity of the last three days, but I'm feeling decidedly portly at present, perhaps it's in my head, and I'm self conscious about things.

Did the supermarket run today with her indoors, took some extra time looking around for "healthy" foods, particularly for when I'm at work. That's the place where I take on too many extra calories, the too many I'm not burning up. 12 hours is a long shift, and when things get quiet, that's when I get the munchies.

As I've said, many times before, I love my food, and particularly when I'm away from the supervision of herself, her indoors, I tend to over indulge. Why that's so, I don't know, but I'm going to have to defeat that tendency, asap.

Up till 2003 I smoked a pipe, had done so since the age of 19, so a total of 33 years I had smelt like an ashtray, but really loved to smoke my pipe, probably three ounces a week. A couple of times I told myself, I was going to give it up, but wasn't serious enough to follow it through. Then I remember taking part in a five a side football tournament with my workmates, I fell down, and I struggled to get up, I was at me heaviest then, but I was also quite breathless, and running was a struggle, I knew something had to be done.

I gave up smoking on a Tuesday, and have never smoked since. Looking back, I should have done three things.

1. Given up smoking.

2. Started eating healthily.

3. Taken up exercise.

Sometime ago, I heard, on the radio, an "expert" talking about peoples' ability to give up addictive practises, and learnt that apparently, it is the case that people who can give up "smoking", immediately, like moi, have a brain that is "damaged" in some way? I'm sure there are many who will gladly attest to that fact, in my case. But going back to the three things I should have done back in 2003, about a year later I started riding a bike, so exercise started, but I never got around to food? Food, it seems, is overly important to me, why?

I am a twin, I have a twin sister, who was born a couple of hours before me, was I the runt of the pair, who needed to grab as much as he could? I know I've always been a big eater, through childhood and my teens, all those calories got burned over and over again, because my generation had the benefit of the great outdoors, and competitive sport not only at home, but at school all year round. Rugby, soccer, athletics, the lot, I really feel sorry for kids today.

Sadly, when I left school things started slowing down, so much so, my weight started a slow inevitable rise, from a fit 13 stone 7 lbs, at 20, to 17 stone 10 lbs at 51. It's interesting to point out, that the lighter figure, would still classify me as obese today? Perhaps I'm big boned?

Well I'm on the bike in the morning, carrying a load of healthier foods to eat at work, it'll be a great start if I don't eat it all on the first day!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Slimming's easy when you forget your keys.

Worked last night, off now, till next Thursday, that's the way the shift pattern works, though probably, I'll get called in for some overtime, it's holiday time. Cycled to work, taking in an extra mile or so, along the Aberavon seafront, really lovely.

When I got to work I discovered I'd left my keys at home, this meant I couldn't get into my locker, to change clothes and freshen up. As a result I had to work through the 12 hour shift in my cycling gear....ugh! Not just for me, as several deodorant cans flew my way. "Ma vittals" were in said locker, so I had to make do with even less of the less to eat that I had expected, result, starving bigtime. Consequently, I felt very light on the trip home this morning, even passed another cyclist, which hasn't happened often in my cycling carreer.

At this juncture I'd like to point out that I always make the effort to speak to fellow cyclists, unlike the ignorant @*~#'s I usually meet up with. It's simply a good morning, nice day etc., and mostly I'm totally ignored??? Perhaps it's down to me being a strange, possibly frightening sight. I'll get a picture of myself onto the blog asap., in my usual commuting gear, my darling will have to do the honours, still that is a treat, you my reader, will have to come back for. Meanwhile, let's get back to that cyclist "I blew away" this morning, I believe that's the correct terminology.

Cycling through Resolven, into strong sunlight, I thought I caught a glimpse of the fellow cyclist in the distance ahead, it dawned on me that he couldn't be moving too fast, because I'd stopped a little earlier for 5 minutes or so, while I watched for a buzzard I'd disturbed on the road, to return to its roadkill meal of woodpigeon. I carried on and once we were on the Rheola straight, he was in plain view, obviously not moving very fast, because well, it was me who was catching him up. Now came the FEAR factor, O.K., so he wasn't moving fast, but what if he started to speed up when I had the audacity to actually try and pass him. On top of that the "Rheola straight", as I call it, is a long shallow uphill slope, that I always dreaded on my way home, in the early commute days, still do occasionally, when I'm feeling pooped. This could mean the distinct possibility of me running out of steam, and then suffering the ignominy, of becoming the passee, after making him the passee, if you get my drift.

I was now at the planning stage of my "passing strategy", as I steadily gained on him, I decided to maintain a "quick" pace, and a "steady rhythm", OK, so Tour de France this isn't. I was eating up the ground now, and then actually PASSING him, while he struggled up the slope. As I passed, we turned to face eachother, and I said to him, "Great stuff isn't it", to which he replied, "I'm in heart attack country here mate", which made me laugh out loud, in recognition, that oh, had I been there, just like him. I FLEW on, and shouted back, "I know that feeling very well."

My passee, by the way, was a little old man, in a winter coat, corduroy trousers, hobnail boots, a flat andycap, on an old mountain bike, but hey "scalps" are "scalps", and so "he's mine", as they say in the vernacular.

Isn't cycling just fantastic, even for fat slowboys like me!

Now, where's that picture of Dallaglio when he had hair?


DC Rainmaker: Garmin Forerunner 310XT Giveaway

DC Rainmaker: Garmin Forerunner 310XT Giveaway

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

This is a struggle.

I've been nights since Sunday, after doubling back from days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, of last week, and I'm pooped. Eating less seems to be hitting my energy levels, so much so, that I'm taking the car to travel in this evening, I hate doing so, because I miss my ride so much. When it comes to the morning, I'll be itching to get on the Subway.

Am I fooling myself about my energy levels? I'm starving now. After the struggle to get home on the bike this morning, I just couldn't face attempting to pedal. Yes, I have felt like that before, but it's been a long time since I've felt so worn out on the ride.

Weighed myself last Friday, 16 stone exactly, so I have to lose 2 stone, i.e., 28 lbs by 15th February 2011, my 60th birthday, perhaps 4 lb a month or call it 1 lb a week, just like doing the lottery then, because I lose a pound a week, every week, doing that!

Easy then.

I'll be looking up sensible food to eat, and planning to get that into my diet asap. Why do I love my food so much?

Anyway, forgive the rambling, go to go now.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

My eyes are open at last.....will they stay open and focused?

Hi everyone, just a short post today, but I hope an important one. With the help of the 39 stone cyclist, and reading about other cyclists achievements in this wonderful blogosphere of ours, I recognised a failing in myself. That failing was accepting second best, and not pedalling that extra mile, where so many of you have succeeded. Below is my response to the 39 stone cyclist's post today, where he declared his aim to fight obesity and its causes.

"First of all let me wish you well in your recovery. I hope alot of people get to read what you write, I back your fight, albeit somewhat selfishly. My story is quite similar to massivemtbiker. I started cycling 5 years ago, at the age of 54. I was 17stone 5lbs, and at 5feet 7inches, obese, no getting away from it. I’ve no idea how I got there, when I played rugby etc., I was 13 stone 7 lbs, come to think of it obese, even then, but boy was I fit. In the last 5 years I’ve cycled 1000′s of miles, but have only lost one stone in weight, 3 inches off my waist, gained 4 inches on my chest, and my legs don’t have an ounce of fat on them. Most importantly I feel great, but how I’d really love to slim down another couple of stone. I know what the problem is, food! It's a fact that I’m too greedy, and cycling makes me very hungry, plus I don’t eat sensibly, I work shifts and perhaps am too damned lazy to go the extra mile that you and Clive have succeeded in doing. Help! I know I’m still too fat, and still obese, by all the current clinical measurements. This isn’t the humourous bit, I swear, but I reconised this fact today, when I caught a glimpse of myself, side-on, in a BURGERKING? Reading your blog today has made me realise I have to go that extra mile, I’ve got to stop being a fittish but obese cyclist,IS THAT POSSIBLE?, and become a fit cyclist, who is happy with his shape. I’m 60 next February, so I’m setting a goal for myself, of getting down to 14 stone by then, wish me luck."

As I said in my reply above, I feel great, but not so inside, I still have issues about the way I look, basically I still look fat, and I don't like it. Publishing my reply on another man's blog is one thing, but posting a goal on my personal blog is, for me, showing even more committment to the promise I've made to myself, and anyone else who drops into my part of the blogosphere.

This prevarication about actually "publishing" this, is very strong at the moment, because I've few ideas about how I'm going to achieve my goal. In the past I've made empty threats about going to the gym, but this time I'll have to "do it". That's my problem, "always a thinker, but never a doer," except when it came to getting on a bike, which as all you cycling bloggers know, is the easy part, because it's such a joy. It's the hard parts I've got to conquer, more exercise off the bike, eating sensibly and most difficult of all, staying focused on this target I've set myself.

Thanyou 39 stone cyclist, for opening my eyes.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Trying to bring my reader up to date.

A whole month since my last post, the time is really racing by, something I'm not very good at on my bike. But I've been doing alot of bicycling in that time. I signed up for Phil's June 100#, and have since, for the July 150#, faring quite miserably with leisure miles, which were the miles sought after. Still the commuter miles have been racking up quite nicely, and now I have the bicycle computer on board the Subway LTD, and don't have to work out conservative guesstimates, I promise I did't cheat on the June 100#, Phil.

Yes, there's a photo at the start of this post, I'm amazed, the puncture fairy's mate, the google goblin, has been doing his dandest to destroy my blogging efforts for some time now. It started with an inability to move picture around a post, which graduated to complete breakdown of the facility. Then 2 weeks ago, my desktop here, which is, like myself, pretty long in the tooth, had a total breakdown. I lost everything pictures etc., and had to get Keiron jnr, to set it all up again. It would seem that in so doing, he destroyed the google goblin, for a while at least, fingers crossed, because the desktop, has come back, rejuvenated with the skills I've been missing so badly.

Why am I such a slow typist? I've got so much to tell you about my cycling/commuting. Its been going great, only missed a couple of workdays, due to oversleeping or just plain knackered, for this whole month, as a result the miles have been rolling in. I've started to record my mileage properly, in my diary, since I got the cycle computer to work. It's been in the shed for some time, waiting for someone to fit it to the bike. I finally had a go 3 Sundays ago. As a crap DIYER, and a complete technophobe, the result could have been predicted, it didn't work!!!

I took it back to Daniel, in Halfords, who told me the unit had to have a direct line of sight to the sensor on the fork, problem solved, or so this hopelessly incompetent technophobe thought. I came home and realigned the set up, hey presto, I was starting to get readings, now all I had to do was input date, time and the other various settings..... oh dear!!!

Naturally I concluded, that because I couldn't make sense of inputting this data, the computer was defective, until I gave it to number three son to sort out, he had it all going in minutes. But as I pointed out to him, it was just the same as mum being able to open those jars with tight lids, she could only possibly manage it after I had loosened them. That's common sense.

Consequently, I'm now flying around recording miles, but are they correct distances being clocked up? The truth is, I'm a little uncertain, perhaps due to a bit of laziness/impatience on my part. All of you, sorry wishful thinking there, imagining I had a following of more than one, that have cycle computers, are aware that the wheel circumference, input in the initial set up, is crucial to the computer working correctly. Well instead of measuring it accurately, I just input a guesstimate, and I still have the gaul to wonder why my DIY projects flounder so badly.

So that's my next, sorry Tierloch's, next job, to measure and input the reading into the computer. I'm hoping that will sort out why I'm riding so slowly, these days, because of wrong base data.

I know the weather has been bad for the last 2 days, but my average speed has dropped to 12.5 mph? Perhaps I'm getting even slower, or hopefully the base data is incorrect, creating skewed readings.
Time defeated me yesterday, and so I'm here at the PC having another go at getting up to the minute happenings in welshcyclist's adventures. Yet more sorties into the technical for me, and number 3 son, today. We measured the wheel circumference on the Subway LTD which came out at 2.025 metres, slightly less than the guesstimate, I originally input to my cycle computer, which was 2.037 metres. Will that mean I'm actually slower or faster, and travelled further or less ? I haven't got a clue, and I always loved maths, differential equations etc., my brain must be drying up. I'll just have to see what the computer records after my ride tomorrow, which will be a leisure trip, down and back up the valley.
Sadly didn't cycle at all today, her indoors had noticed I hadn't painted the reveals of the front living room window, after I'd declared I'd finished painting the room last week. So instead of the mandatory morning ride, when I'm off work, I got the paint etc., and did the job. Then I wrote a couple of letters, before we went out for a walk around Swansea marina, a spot of lunch, Iasked for salad--honest, but ended up with chips. I considered complaining, but the chips looked so nice, I just ate them.
Let's get back to cycling. There are so many out there, commuting by bike, like myself and you, my reader, I find it very worrying. The cyclepaths, towpaths etc., won't be able to cope, especially with those pesky pedestrians jumping out of the way of petrol guzzling vehicles onto our rights of way ! And the roads are twice as dangerous now, because car drivers, lorry drivers, and white van men, all, as we well know to be expert practitioners of the art of driving, are now totally bemused at the sight of two maybe three cyclists, at a time venturing onto their hallowed tarmac. Rapid acceleration to bypass these trespassers is their only answer, with of course the obligatory swing across the inside lane, to cut up cycling those idiots, i.e., you and me.
Currently, when my commute involves busy roads, which is between 16.00 and 17.30, when I'm cycling to my nightshift, as I go through Neath, expletive after expletive explode from my mouth, as I ride along, suffering closer and closer shaves with death or maiming. Then there's the race to catch up the cretin who needs to go back to driving school, who, when you point out their selfish and careless use of the road, develop the same instant tourette syndrome that I suffer from, on my commute. On top of that confrontation can be a dangerous exploit, some of these cretins can be very large and frightening, which makes me wish I'd become a motorcyclist, to make a speedy getaway. By the way, the fact that I'm a frightening sight on the bike, seems to escape them, this of course will all change when I progress to lycra, I know, 'cos I've looked in the mirror, and I couldn't go back for more.
Once again it's those pesky pedestrians who suffer the most flak. There's me rolling along the road, dodging death, while at the same time, passing them as they stroll along the pavement, when out of the blue, and I mean out of the very blue, someone appears to have screamed "Arsehole, *anker, *osser" and other such endearments at them. Those exposed to such treatment, whose numbers increase weekly, will soon, no doubt, be launching a petition to banish that cyclist with tourette's from the town limits. All the while those drivers from the school of complete incompetence, carry on driving closer and closer, fine tuning the dark art of "cutting up" you and me.
Sadly, my presence on the roads of Neath has left the pedestrians of that fair vale in a Catch 22 situation. Not only, are they likely to suffer an explosion of expletives when venturing onto the roads, but also, whilst innocently striding along their sanctuary, that was, the pavement.
Now for a few comments about drivers, don't worry tourettes, is bloody *&%^$"ing under control. Simply a list of which class of driver appears, at least in my experience, the most selfish and incapable.
1. Highlander. He's immortal, so it doesn't matter how he drives.
2. God's Gift. A prat with a top of the range vehicle, who needs all the road,
3. Brand New. The idiot who hasn't familiarised himself with his brand new vehicle.
4. Van man, not necessarily white. If there's a gap he CAN get through it.
5. The Professionals. Taxi and bus drivers, enough said!
6. Lost in Space. Female office workers who have no spacial awareness, who can't understand why you are suddenly struck down with *@"!ing Tourette syndrome.
Not a long list, and far from complete, and there are many sub species to be found, please note, we have to be careful out there, because there are so many, many more than you and me.
Well back to the picture, if you can zoom in on it, you will see it's a shot of a swan family, cob, pen and cygnets, that have taken up residence in Neath Port Talbot hospital grounds, part of my route to and from work. The male, cob, is magnificent, and gives an alarming stare and hiss if you should dare venture too close to his family, while the female is quite willing to peck at a strange swan, that stares back at her from the paintwork reflection of cars parked in the hospital car parks, where they've been given licence to roam.
I was going to try to insert a few more pictures, but it seems my PC's problem with the google goblin, is not fully recovered. I'm still unable to manoeuvre the shots through the blog.
Wednesday, I cycled to work for my nightshift. I started in glorious sunshine, before I'd reached the far edge of the Glynneath galaxy, I was in the middle of a thunderstorm. I sheltered for a few minutes, put on my waterproof jacket, and cycled on. By the time I'd arrived at Middle Earth, otherwise known as Rheola pond, I was completely soaked to the skin. I cycled on, to be confronted by a warm head-on gale, evidence of my approach to the violent black hole of Neath. Undeterred, I pedalled on, into warm sunshine, which sadly, I was unable to appreciate, because in the midst of cyclist hungry predtors, I fell into a Tourette coma, to awake later in the calm of NCR 4, en route to Aberavon seafront. Yes, I made it still in one piece, but guiltily I wonder how many innocent pedestrians I traumatised, with my affliction of ITS. I confess I'm an ITS, I suffer from Intermittent Tourette Syndrome.
I was not to be so lucky on the trip home, the following morning. But first let me say how wonderful it is to cycle the roads of Neath, between the hours of 05.30 and 06.30, just the odd car about, and police cars rushing back to their home station for tea and shift swap. Once again the sun was shining, and so I decided to take the canal towpath back towards Glynneath, I was feeling tired after my 4th nightshift, and I can avoid a couple of minor hills that way. The rewards were sightings of wildlife, rabbits, herons, a stonechat, mallards and their chicks, swans and cygnets, and best of all a nursery of 14 young goosanders, on the river Neath, that runs alongside the canal. Grrrreat stuff.
At Abergarwood, after crossing the canal aquaduct, I had to return to the road, but was soon climbing the inclines with no problem, I was so refreshed. However, a little further on, I was gliding along happily, then feeling a little discomfort in the old undercarriage, I thought to myself, just a simple readjustment required. So standing up on my pedals, whilst I made the relevent moving of clothing, something I've done hundreds of times before, when I made a move too far forward. It was a case of losing balance, and control of the Subway. I'm just soooo very glad there was no one about, to have witnessed what happened, I just ended up in a heap atop of the bike on the floor. Fortunately no damage to the bike or myself, but I was filthy from contact with the tyres as I tried valiantly, not to end up on the floor.
Important lesson learned, never be too casual carrying out undercarriage adjustments whilst on the move. I was fotunate not to lose my undercarriage completely.
Yes, my reader, I can see you yawning.
@:!$£<>.ing Cheers.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Great ride today or was it a bimble?

I'm off work this week,managed to get out last Sunday for a couple of hours, but Monday and Tuesday had me tied down with family committments. So this morning I was feeling guilty about not keeping my mileage up, I signed up to Phill's June 100#, and if anything my mileage has dropped off.

But getting back to my ride this morning. I left very late, which unusual for me, at about 07.45, the sun was out, splitting the trees,and the temperature was already 19 degrees centigrade, but with a cooling breeze. Conditions were fantastic, for what all you other cycling bloggers call........ bimbling along.

And that's just what I did, a 26 mile bimble down and up the Neath valley. It took me the best part of two and a half hours, because well I was just bimbling. Having a good look around at what was happening in the fields, along the canal towpath, and in the woods. I was rewarded with a sighting of a red kite, circling above a field where a farmer was cutting the grass with a large mower behind his tractor. I was able to watch a graceful display of gliding flight, seemingly effortless, I gazed in awe for a full five minutes, and just wished I'd brought my camera. Meanwhile, it was obvious that the kite's presence had made other birds dash for cover, even the large carrion crows.

Later while cycling along the towpath, I decided to take a look where a wooden footbridge over the canal led to. I was soon deep in the woods on the valley side, following a footpath/ trail, too steep and narrow to ride my bike. Several times I thought of turning back, but I just wanted to find out where it led to. Despite the fact that it was fast being overgrown, by foliage etc., it was obviously a path, because steps of wood and gravel had been installed. By this time it was dark under the canopy of trees, and the only sound, the buzzing of insects, I was glad I'd put on my insect repellent.

After climbing for 10 minutes or so, I came to a clearing, sheltered all around by trees, not a breath of breeze, and it was baking. The narrow path continued, quite distinct, through the knee high grass, but I was relieved, I could once again mount my bike. I was now expecting to find myself in a field of cows or horses, but no, as I came out of the clearing, the path widened into the width of a road, with walls either side, it was a bridge over the single railtrack that follows the canal from Cwmgwrach to Neath. From there I dropped down into a residential cul de sac, on the side of the hill towards Aberdulais, I'd gone full circle, back to the canal. Well nothing ventured..... At least I know where that bridge leads to now.

What I truely find amazing is the fact that, during my trip, I only saw half a dozen people, either walking dogs, or fishing on the river. Where was everyone on such a beautiful day ?

Lately, I've been experiencing some discomfort on my Brooks saddle, I'd been putting the problem down to my padded shorts not being up to the job. However, it dawned on me today, that whilst riding I keep pushing myself to the back of the saddle, so that my sit bone were perched on top of the very rear of the saddle. What if I adjusted the seat forward so that my sit bones sat on that area of the saddle all the time?

I did so, and I think the problem's solved.

Having said that, I wish I could afford a proper bikefit, instead of all this tinkering as I bimble.

I'm considering a new bike, a road bike, or a cross bike, (why are they cross?), might get it via the Bike2Work scheme. I thought that Halfords choice would be very limited, but for this scheme, they've introduced a special order catalogue, with a wide range of fantastic brands and models, none of which I can name at the moment, cos I'm tired. I can only access said catalogue via the works computer. Hopefully I'll get back to you, my reader, with more details and progress as it happens.


Monday, 24 May 2010

Just ramblings.

Anyone who has visited my blog can plainly see, I'm not a regular poster. For several reasons, first is the copious amounts of time I need to make even a short post, i.e., lack of dexterity on the keyboard, as well as a technical hitch resulting in the loss of my ability to publish photos on this blog. Then there's what to actually talk about?

Sadly the majority of my cycling is commuting each way to work, I shouldn't say sadly, because I really enjoy my trips immensely, no matter what the weather. Leisure trips are limited to a couple of loops up and down this beautiful valley that I have the good fortune to live in. I've written in the past about wanting to break out of this valley, travel further afield etc., but it's having the time. But then, all the pundits when talking about people who are really good at something, such as rugby footballers, talk up the fact of having time on the ball to do something special, which makes them a bit more special than their colleagues.

Is that what it's all about? Am I short of time, because I'm not good enough?

I read several cycling blogs regularly on the internet. Not only am I amazed and have total admiration for the quality of the writing, photos, and total committment to providing almost daily comment about their cycling, but am in awe at how they combine work, cycling, blogging as well as being able to get on with all the rest of the paraphernalia, that living entails. To sum such bloggers up, they are something special.

Some have been on the scene for a long time, I've been reading them for several years, but some are much newer to my attention. There are a vast number of cycling blogs out there, in the blogosphere, and I can only apologise to you my reader, for ommitting your favourite one.

First my long established favourites. The late much lamented "Ken Kifer's Bike Pages", the "mnbicyclecommuter", "Up in Alaska", and then there's my favourite girl cyclists, who by the way are seriously gorgeous, i.e., "Bikeskirt", "Let's go ride a bike", and "Lovely Bicycle".

Then there's the new boys and girls on the blog, get it, well I thought it was funny. " The Massive Mountain biker", who has made fantastic progress so quickly in his goal to lose weight, while along the way, keeping us informed of his trials and tribulations, not forgetting becoming a regular blogger for "Bikeradar", awesome!! Keep it up Clive! Then we have "Wowy and the Cycler", a girl pedalling towards her own goals, who has found a true renaissance of her life. It's all great inspiring stuff to read and follow.

While I struggle like hell, to get anything done, lose weight, look better, pedal further and faster, improve my mechanical skills, the list is endless. AM I AN ALSO CYCLED?

I only have one thing in common with all you fantastic, beautiful cycling bloggers, "WE ALL LOVE TO RIDE A BIKE", now there's a good name for a blog, if ever I saw one, and I've seen quite a few now.

You excellent achieving bloggers seem to have gained the nirvana of organised life balance, or are your lives just as chaotic as mine? I've got to find the key, there must be an "allen key" to sort it, but then you know me and mechanicals.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

One of those days.........

Have you ever had one of those days? One, which seems endless, yet you achieve sod all!

Well, that's precisely my day today.

It started, sorry failed to start, with me lazily staying in bed. I mean it was just pure laziness. Yesterday, thank goodness, I commuted to and from work, probably only the 6th, or at most, the 7th time I've managed to do so, in the last 2 months, because of my morbid fear of ice. Obviously, what fitness I had attained up until just before Christmas, had disappated, delapidated or downright shrivelled, because it was very hard work cycling back home up the valley.

As a result Iwas tired this morning, and my legs were stiff. The plan, last night, was to get back into the habit of a loop down and back up the valley before breakfast, on my free days, ( my days off shift ), which I was doing at least two or three times a week, through last year. But no, I just lay there thinking, and procrastinating about it, until of course it was just too damned late!

That, sadly, set the tone for the rest of the day.

Elizabeth and I had to go to Swansea to run some errands, Conor our middle son, married and living across the street, called over to ask if he could tag along, he's been painting his bathroom, on a day off from work, and wanted to call at a DIY shop for some items. I wanted to get some parraffin for my shed stove/lamp/heater, I'll have to get a photo of it into the blog, it's the business, and a major part of my plan to lead a solitary life holed up in MY SHED. Trouble is it's full of crap, save for my bikes and gear, of course.

I know I'm digressing now, from "One of those days....". but I have to tell you this. When I became a signaller on the railway, my third post was grade 3 signaller at Abergavenny signalbox. It was, and still is, what I like to call a proper signalbox, with a large interlocking frame and approximately 80 odd levers. Using bell codes, telephones, levers connected to signals by a system of wire runs and pulleys out on the trackside, I'd signal trains up to Tram Inn, or down to Little Mill, the boxes either side of Abergavenny. In between trains, especially at night or in winter, I'd be sat smoking my pipe, next to a coal fired pot bellied stove.

Well that is what I wanted it to be, the truth is the pot bellied stoves disappeared, from the majority of boxes with privatisation, and in reality, I was sitting next to an electric fire, and not a very good one. But when I was training to be a signaller, I visited the Crewe railway heritage site, and had a go on the levers etc., The signalbox was fitted with the traditonal pot bellied stove, and we tooke it in turns to keep the coal fire going. Simply great, since that time I've always dreamt of me smoking my pipe next to such a stove.

It's never going to come to fruition though, because I gave up smoking my pipe six years ago.

However, a remnant of that dream is still attainable, a pot bellied stove in my shed. Currently, I have the parraffin stove, in my shed, which, though a poor substitute, is part way to a picture of myself I can see. Me sat in my shed with a mug of tea, kettle on the stove, while studying a something mechanical to do with my bikes.

But first I've got to clear all that crap out of there. Will I have to get another shed first?

Sorry I've got to close now, phonecall from work, asking me to work a dayshift tomorrow. I said yes, and I want to ride in, not drive, so I'd best get to bed, I've got to be up very early, 03.45 to cycle the 20 miles in to start by 05.30. The good news is, I should be home in plenty of time for the Wales versus France rugby game tomorrow evening.

Cheers, I hope I get back to telling you about the rest of "One of those days...."

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

On my soapbox.

I've just been replying to a comment, from my blogging pal Nick. During that rambling reply, yes I know I do go on, my dander was raised i.e., I became very concerned about the degenerates who litter our streets with glass, and other sharp detritus, seemingly smashed and thrown where it can do most harm. Here, in my part of the world, I believe the problem is endemic, and it's no wonder to me, that we humans are destroying the natural world around us at such a rapid pace.

Our behaviour is disgraceful, cosumerism does not give us the right to litter our streets, paths, fields, hedgerows, woods, streams, rivers, seas and oceans, the way that we do. Why are we letting ourselves do this?

What's the government doing about it ? Or better still what are we doing about it ?

I believe it's up to us all to do something.

The government to punish those that are too lazy or trying to make money out of not recycling waste on either a personal or industrial scale, while we the public get involved in recycling and disposing of our waste goods in proper and beneficial ways, that help the environment. Quite simple really.

Meanwhile, as far as the toerags that litter the roads and cyclepaths we travel on, they should be sh....!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Me doing bike maintenance?

As the saying goes, "needs must".

Did my normal commute to work last Thursday evening, I was nights, and got a puncture in my rear tyre about a third of a mile from my work. As I'm a very poor handyman, at the best of times, I decided to walk the rest of the way, pushing the Subway 1. Got there O.K., I'm normally 15-20 minutes early, when I ride the bike, in order to cater for any mishaps on the way, I'd hate it, that I should delay my colleagues from going home on time.

The great news is, I fixed the puncture, and got the bike back together during my breaks overnight. What's more, it all held up for my journey back home, in the morning. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I decided to ride in early the next day (Friday), as the sun was out, I thought I'd cycle along the seafront at Aberavon. When I arrived at roughly the same spot as the day before, the rear tyre punctured again!

So another 15 minute walk to complete my journey.

Once again I was busy during my breaks, but things didn't go so well as they had the previous evening. Checking the inner tube, I found the puncture was right in the middle of the patch I'd used the night before. Quite a coincidence, I mean what were the chances of that happening? I thought to myself. Putting it down to just that, a flukey coincidence, I removed the patch and put a new one on. Wrong!!!

When I pumped it up it seemed fine, so I deflated and inserted it back into the tyre. and pumped it up, ready for the morning. Half an hour or so later, I felt the tyre, only to find it had gone down. So I went through the whole procedure again, to find the inner tube had been holed again, but on the inside, directly opposite, the new patch I'd put on. Presumably, my first repair, the night before had left some sharp debris inside the tyre, or probably in the inner tube itself, that caused the patch to be pierced, and now the inner wall as well.

So I put another patch on this new puncture, and pumped up the tube, but this time I left it, to see if it would stay inflated. Sadly, when I did check it later it had gone down. I wasn't prepared to go through the rigaramole again so I got out a brand new spare inner tube from my pannier bag, and pumped it up, to check it was O.K.. I then pumped up the original again, intending to find the "new" puncture. I couldn't find any hole in it, and it remained inflated ? I put it down to a temporary problem with the valve, because it stayed up all night. Meanwhile, I put the new inner tube into my back tyre, and made it home again on that. Of course, I still have a spare inner tube, albeit it has two patches on it.

Gosh it has taken a long time to explain all that, I hope it all makes sense.

They say practise makes perfect, I know I'm faraway from perfect, but those two nights mending punctures, going through the procedures etc., has made me alot more confident of dealing with them in the future.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

That @£$%><.. ice just won't go away.

Not a pretty sight, I think you'll agree.

I have been looking forward to a ride on my bike for a few days, as you will all know, from my constant bleatings about my fear of ice, I have hardly ridden for the best part of 6 weeks, now. The snow has gone, there was no forecast for ice and freezing temperatures overnight, and when I got up, there was a touch of rain in the air, and no sign of ice anywhere. I thought to myself, at last.

So I togged up, got my bike, the Subway 1, out of the shed and set off for a ride down and back up the valley. It was great to be out there, the slight drop of rain passed over, and blue skies opened up, as I cycled through the village, at roughly 08.30 this fine Sunday morning. I tried to mix things up a bit, by altering my route. After passing through Glynneath itself, I cycled into Cwmgwrach, but instead of my normal U-turn, back towards Glynneath, I pedalled straight through Cwmgwrach, then went via a steep downhill lane to Unity mine and carried on past the sewerage works, along its service road, rejoining the main road behind MacDonalds.

Everything was fantastic, and I was really enjoying my time out in the fresh air, I did mention the sewerage works, didn't I ? I was now trvelling back towards Glynneath, intending to take the old road towards Neath. The footpath there is recognised as a cyclepath also, so I mounted the pavement, to follow it along the old road.

Big, Big Mistake !!

Next thing I knew, I was slammed to the ground, as my front wheel just slid away from me, down the slight camber to my right. Fortunately, this meant I was going to the left, as my Subway 1 went to the right. My left shoulder hit the ground square on, then I slid along the ground, which fortunately for me was smooth tarmac, for about 20 feet. When my bike and I had come to a stop, my first thoughts were of embarrassment, who had seen this debacle, and so on. I quickly saw that there was no one about to have witnessed the event, and then started to check for damage, my shoulder was fine, it didn't even feel stiff or sore, thank goodness for that. Getting to my feet, I soon found out why I'd ended up in such a heap, the pavement was a sheet of ice, why I don't know ?? I hadn't seen any signs of the stuff since I'd left home.

Turning next to my Subway 1, I breathed a sigh of relief, that no damage at all had been sustained. Gingerly, I took the bike from the pavement onto the road, where there was no ice at all. As a car then passed, I pretended to be looking at my gears, in the hope of not drawing attention to myself, you know I don't anyone to know that I'm some sort of hopeless cretin who tries to stay upright on a bike. The car duely passed by, and then I felt a stiffness in my left shin, looking down I saw the damage that I had sustained.

A large lump in the middle of my shin, with two nasty cuts, and blood slowly rolling down into the top of my sock. The picture above hardly does it justice, now cleaned up, it's still pretty sore.

My ride didn't stop there though, despite turning back at that point, I cycled back through Glynneath, and on to Pont Nedd Fechan, before returning home. I have to say I was constantly checking the surface of the ground I cycled over, looking for possibilities of ice, and where I was doubtful, I took it real slow. The good news is I made it home in one piece.

But I do so hate ice, more than ever now.

Kudos to all you other guys who ride it regular, I guess I'm just a wimp !

Friday, 22 January 2010

Welsh singing in a Welsh chapel.

I'm not a religious man, but the occasion can, sometimes, reduce me to tears.

Last Tuesday I attended the funeral of a man, whom I thought, I did not know, or indeed had ever met. Elizabeth, my wife, attends the same church, as his bereaved widow, and wanted to go along to pay her respects.

So we went to the Jerusalem chapel in Resolven, the next village down our valley, at the appointed time, and went in. Once in, we were met by a large crowd of mourners, already seated in the old fashioned gated pews of a typical Welsh chapel, all polished wood on two floors. In full view of the congregation, on the first floor was an organ, complete with lady organist, ready for the funeral to take place.

The coffin was brought in, followed by close family and relatives. Once they were seated, the pastor (forgive me if that isn't the correct title), said a few words about the order of the ceremony, a few words of prayer were said, and then we, the congregation were invited to sing the first hymn from the hymnsheet. It was in Welsh, my native tongue, which I'm ashamed to say, I do not speak, I only have a schoolboy smattering of the language. But I can, with that scant knowledge, read and pronounce my mother tongue, as well as any Welsh speaker, but sadly, not understand a word that I'm saying, or on this occasion was singing.

So it began, with the organ leading us in, then the first words of the hymn were sung by the chapel throng, try as I might, I had a frog in my throat, then tears, and almost immediately my eyes were streaming moisture down my cheeks. It took the first verse and chorus for me to be able to compose myself, enough to join in. Then it was wonderful.

In the first moments of that hymn, all sorts of things welled up inside me, my schoolboy Welsh, good old Sydney Jones, my Welsh language master from almost 50 years ago, my granny Curtis, who loved to read in Welsh from her bible, to her grandchildren, me and my twin sister, the Welsh singing from the glory days of Welsh rugby at the Arms Park, and much, much more. But most of all, it was the pure Welshness of it all.

To top that, the singing was marvellous, as only true Welshmen can muster in their first language, whether of their everyday use, or such as me, with only a schoolboy knowledge. Welsh truely is best heard in song, and it makes me so proud to be a Welshman.

That day, I was very proud to be a Welshman, I had brushed close to my roots, on an occasion I had not thought could trigger such emotions within me. I have to say, I feel so much richer for the experience, which came about by attending, as I thought, a stranger's funeral.

I was wrong on that count, I had met the deceased several times, exchanging a few friendly words. We were both pipe smokers, though I have long given up the fine art, I had commented and struck up a conversation, saying how much I missed my pipe. Since that time we had said hello and exchanged a smile on bumping into each other, around the village, over the last couple of years.