Plan B.

Todays plans have turned out quite differently to what I had in mind.  Today I was hoping for a nice long ride in the glorious sunshine set in a deep blue sky.  Unfortunately, Anne, my wife, has picked up a horrible stomach virus thing and started being sick last night.  She had a terrible night and today feels like she has had the stuffing beaten out of her, get well soon babe.

I did a few errands and ferried my youngest daughter about and then got her to college.  I then had a flash of inspiration!  If I couldn’t get our for a ride on my bike then maybe this was the best time to have a go at some essential cycle maintenance.  I was recently impressed and inspired by Bri and the  work she carried out on her bike.  So with that in mind I remembered that I had some store vouchers which had been given to me at work for long service, I used them to buy an excellent bike tool kit which is in a very hand case.

So I rolled up my sleeves, found some really useful ‘how to videos’ on YouTube and got to work.  As well as some general maintenance I had a loose rear hub and set to work tightening that up.  Success!  I have been meaning to replace my break blocks for a while and set to work on those, another result.  There’s no stopping me now!

Because I use my main bike to commute I have decided to strip down an old mountain bike that’s been in the shed for a while.  I will use that to learn how to remove the cassette, changed break and gear cables etc.  Then this knowledge and experience will help me on my main bike.

Its all good stuff.

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Readin’ ’bout Ridin’

Sabbatical!

While is was laid up for about a month with a nerve damaged elbow I decided that if I couldn’t get out and ride then I would get some books from the library and read others experiences on two wheels.

Frank Lenz.

The Lost Cyclist by David Herlihy is a fascinating book which tells the story about the ill fated round the world cycling adventure made by Frank Lenz;

In the late 1880s, Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh, a renowned high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist, dreamed of cycling around the world. He finally got his chance by recasting himself as a champion of the downsized “safety-bicycle” with inflatable tires, the forerunner of the modern road bike that was about to become wildly popular. In the spring of 1892 he quit his accounting job and gamely set out west to cover twenty thousand miles over three continents as a correspondent forOuting magazine. Two years later, after having survived countless near disasters and unimaginable hardships, he approached Europe for the final leg.

He never made it. His mysterious disappearance in eastern Turkey sparked an international outcry and compelled Outing to send William Sachtleben, another larger-than-life cyclist, on Lenz’s trail. Bringing to light a wealth of information, Herlihy’s gripping narrative captures the soaring joys and constant dangers accompanying the bicycle adventurer in the days before paved roads and automobiles. This untold story culminates with Sachtleben’s heroic effort to bring Lenz’s accused murderers to justice, even as troubled Turkey teetered on the edge of collapse.

It’s a great book which I highly recommend.  The journeys these men undertook, largely on Penny Farthings or High Riders as they are also known, was incredible.  Then came ‘The Safety Bike’,  which firstly had solid rubber tyres as pneumatic tyres were not considered reliable.

Bicycle Diaries.

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne is another good read, well written with some great observations of our world;

Since the early 1980s, David Byrne has been riding a bicycle as his principal means of transportation in New York City. A few years later he discovered folding bikes, and starting taking them with him on music tour overseas, and experienced a sense of liberation as he pedalled around many of the world’s principal cities. The point of view from his bike seat has given Byrne a panoramic window on urban life over the last thirty years as he has cycled round cities such as London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Manila, New York, and San Francisco. From music and the visual arts, to globalisation, politics, the nature of creative work, fashion and art, this book gives the reader an incredible insight into what Byrne is seeing and thinking as he pedals around these cities. Filled with intimate photographs, incredible musical stories and a powerful ecological message, this is a enchanting celebration of bike riding – of the rewards of seeing the world at bike level.

12 Months in the Saddle

By John Deering and Phil Ashley

A cycling book by no other, this account is written and photographed by two committed amateurs who lived out their dream year—a dozen rides that encapsulate the spirit of cycling. Some of the rides, such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, are classic races in the pro cycling season. Others, such as the ascent of Mount Ventoux, are part of the folklore of the Tour de France, while others are home-grown routes, dreamed up and tackled because they are fun on a truly epic scale. Lively personal text describes the nature of each route and the landscape and people encountered along the way. It looks at the inspiration for each location in the first place, and the background history and culture of each ride. With unique breath-taking photography and lively text that conveys exactly how it feels to be by turns frozen, baked, lost, exhausted but utterly exhilarated, and inspired, this is a book that will resonate with any aspiring road rat.

Inspiration.

All these books were quite different but had the same thing in common for me.  That in all these rides or journeys or adventures much of it is mind over matter.  In my own experience I find that not over thinking a ride is key for doing one and this is something that is going important for me this year as I recover and get back into longer rides.

 

 

 

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Starting Over.

Time to get going.

Just over a month since I damaged the nerves in my elbow I have finally got out on my bike again, and it was joyous.  Apart from a couple of short commutes I have not been able to ride, in fact I’ve not been able to do anything!  As I mentioned in my last blog I got some books from the library about cycle adventures and I am really enjoying them.  I will do a post with a review soon.

Blue sky and sunshine, nice.

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Its a strange thing but I was actually nervous about going out!  Although the way I hurt my arm was actually rather daft it really took me out of action.  So being back in the saddle felt great.  I took it steady and picked a circular route that was not too far from home but also took in a couple of steepish climbs.  I must confess I felt the effects of doing nothing for a month and a couple of times I found myself puffing, especially up the hills, but I was determined to keep going, and I did.

More of the same.

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Now that I am back on two wheels I think I am going to get out every day, even if its just a short blast around the block and get my time and mileage back up again.

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Whether the Weather.

I’ve just read this report on the BBC News website.  It describes the expected blizzard as potentially, ‘paralyzing’! Especially in the Washington DC area. My thoughts go out to all in the area which may be effected, hope you all stay safe.

If we have any snow here, even if its a couple of inches, the whole place comes to a stand still.  the roads become grid locked and the supermarkets have panic buyers purchasing all the bread and milk!  I cant imagine that there are that many practical recipes which call for those items as the main ingredients.  Can you survive a blizzard on an enormous Bread and Butter Pudding?

We Brits, over the years, have developed a reputation for being somewhat obsessed with the weather.  To a degree I suppose its true.  Certainly as a cyclist the weather does have some influence over what sort of route I might go on, especially the wind direction.

I remembered this tongue twister;

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

 

 

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Grimace! What a pain!

From bad to worse!

As I mentioned in my last blog I had been suffering with a niggling pain in my right shoulder blade and just as I was getting to grips with that I did a silly thing on the way to work one evening! I cycled down a track that I’ve been down many, many times before and at the bottom of the track there are two sets of railings which are easy negotiated on bike, however on this occasion I miss-judged how close I got to the first railing and whacked my elbow with quite some force. At the time it was very painful but for the next two or three days I didn’t think anything more of it until the early hours of one morning I was awoken with excruciating pain which was so bad that I had to wake my poor wife and get her to take me to the emergency room at a 4:45 in the morning! After a couple of x-rays the doctor had diagnosed that I’d caused some damage to my nerves in my right elbow, and the remedy of which is just to rest! Easier said than done! I’m right-handed and it was in my right elbow and it was very painful. I’ve broken bones, sprained ankles and pulled muscles but this pain was quite something else. For a couple of days the only thing I could do to keep comfortable and stop the pain was just to lay flat on the floor and not move at all. I had another appointment at the doctors yesterday and the result of that I was prescribed me some painkillers which have anti-inflammation in and I just have to rest, they’ve written me off work for the rest of the month. Again I have to do very little as far as possible that is certainly no cycling, booooo!  As far as January is concerned this month has been pretty much a write-off so I’m starting my new year in February!

Inspiration.

I had to go to the pharmacy yesterday to get some pills that the doctor had prescribed me and while I was out I struck on the idea of popping in to the library to see if I can get some books on cycling. I wanted to try and avoid the usual Lance Armstrong or Bradley Wiggins biographies, I wanted to find something a bit different. After a bit of searching I came across three cracking books to read during my enforced rest. I am starting with a book called The Lost Cyclist which is the untold story of Frank Lenz’s ill-fated around the world journey by bike.

the-lost-cyclist

 

Its fascinating a fascinating read, set in the late 1800s, Lentz was from Pittsburgh and made a name for himself racing ‘big wheelers’ which we know better in this country as the Pennyfarthing bike.

pennyfarthings

 

The reports which are contained in the book about bike racing on these large bikes is amazing all I can think is that the guys are used to ride these things were not only fearless but incredibly fit. So, for now unfortunately I will not be blogging about my own cycling exploits but from time to time I might share about some of the books I’m reading and the inspiration that they are giving me as well as some of the other bloggers that I’m reading and their bike riding experiences well. I’m also making good use of this time to try and plan out, all being well, some rides I can do this year.

P.S. I was not able to type this so used an app on my phone to dictate what I wanted to write! Technology, nice one.

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More of a smile and less of a grimace!

Strangle title!

Yes, an odd choice of title for my last post of the year!  A brief explanation, Christmas Eve a twinge in my shoulder developed into serious pain by Christmas Day which I have been nursing ever since.  It’s like something has been shoved into my shoulder blade and is very painful.  Thankfully it has stated to get slightly better now.

Are you sure that’s the best idea?

I was determined to get out on my bike today and when I mentioned this to Anne she asked the question that wives often ask, ‘Is that the best idea?‘  My reply was simply, ‘no’, however it was something I had to do I needed to get one more ride in before the year finishes.

TBT (throw back Thursday)

January 1st I started a challenge this year to cycle every day.  Ambitious, yes.  Did I complete it, no!

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This picture was taken on the 1st of January next to Lincoln Cathedral, my first ride and my old bike.

There is a saying, ‘If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time’.  I had been inspired last year by a couple of friends and decided to set a challenge of my own and this was to ride every day and also to blog about it.  After many years of living a very sedentary life it was time to mix it up, get some exercise, get healthy and do something different.  I am so pleased I started this challenge even though it didn’t end the way I thought it would, but that’s ok as I have loved the spontaneity.  I have  learnt anything its that the only obstacle for doing something is often me!

Looking back.

The year started out great and as time went on I was increasing my mileage and routes.  I managed to ride in all weathers,  at all times and even with raging toothache!.  Things became a bit unstuck when I had to stop for our family summer vacation and then shortly after I damaged my Achilles tendon in my calf and was not able to walk let alone do anything else!  Up to that point I had cycled every day for just over six months.  There were also challenges within the challenge, including the London Nightrider, Errandonnee and Coffeeneuring.  Loads of fun and helped me enjoy cycling even more.  I have really enjoyed blogging and surprised myself with how much I got into it!  My life has been enriched by all the people I have met and made contact with.  They have helped inspire and encourage me with their own words of wisdom and experiences on two wheels.  I have 65 followers, wowzers!  thank you all.

2016

The good news is I did manage a ride today and went back to where it all began.

newyear

Lincoln Cathedral on my new bike.

Even though my shoulder is still giving me the odd twinge it was really nice to get out into the fresh air.  So what does 2016 have in store?  In many ways its a pretty big year for us as a family.  In the summer we are going to visit New York and Washington DC, I am hoping to do some cycling in both cities.  Our eldest daughter will finish her A levels and then in October she will be going to University!  Oh, that’s after she has been to Sri Lanka to work with Turtle conservationists and also children’s orphanages (quite the combo!)  As far a cycling goes I am hoping to take part in the London Nightrider again, build up my miles and get to do my first century ride.  Oh, and anything else that may come up!

It just leaves me to wish all my followers and readers a very Happy New Year, and good cycling.

 

 

 

 

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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