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Sunday, 3 November 2013

I now influence cycling more than I participate........

What the hell is he talking about?

Well, one of the issues I deal with at work is the Bicycle User Group and what they/we would like in our new buildings. Our employer is moving buildings and for once we might be able to influence what "facilities" we might get for our bikes and ourselves!

Currently, our "luxury" facilities include lockers in the toilets, no drying facilities, one shower for twenty lockers and no changing areas at all. People improvise with hangers and the window and the disabled toilet so that anyone wandering in for a pee is not confronted with a naked wet man - its not a sight you really want straight after brekkie...

Now, I guess that we're not going to get the hot fluffy towels and heated rooms and attendants that my Head of Property said he had in a London Firm, but it would be nice to get lock ups for the bikes, drying rooms and changing areas - if Bristol really is "Britain's' First Cycle City" - is it too much to ask that its Council has reasonable cycle facilities for staff who try and keep fit on the way to work?

The dangers of being just an armchair expert

One of the joys of having Sky+ is that during the summer - you can record Tour de France highlights and get three weeks of fun watching a bunch of very fit guys playing chess in bikes, but without the need to watch the whole thing.

One of the things I liked in 2012 was that when I had the time, watching a whole stage was fun, but you could probably go shopping in the middle and miss very little of the action as the big teams always brought the breaks back and most of the action was in the last 30 mins - unless it was a mountain stage....

Anyway - back to the armchair - I now find that as I haven't turned a wheel for a while - I tend to talk MORE about cycling - perhaps to compensate. I'm sure a psychologist would have a term for it - displacement? talking balls?. Anyway - the more I talk about it the more I start to sound like one of those old bores who knows everything but does nothing

Any there is the rub, one of the benefits of exercise is keeping the cider gut in its place, but also the mind healthy too. The more stress you suffer, the more exercise you perhaps should do - but the more stress you do, the less motivated you are to go for a ride and the more likely you are to investigate that cheeky little Pinot on a Tuesday evening

Now work has been pretty rubbish over the summer and in the same period I have cycled precisely once, which is why setting up the turbo trainer in the garage today was a really good idea. DAB radio on tap, fan or heater as needed and a good view of the rain from the well lit and dry garage.

Men's health

I wasn't sure if to have a go at this - but having talked to a few guys at work - it is clear that "we" are not very good at asking for help and we are very good at - basically - lying to ourselves that everything is ok, when it's not

Now I'm not going to break any confidences, but within my sample of three, we managed to have a) avoided going to the dentist for three years as "it was only a slight ache, honest, and eating on one side is good for my jaw muscles" b) had zero control over our workload but "blamed ourself for not managing to finish the impossible" even when the last full night's sleep was over 8 weeks ago, and c) thought that minor "gentleman's problems" were just a consequence of getting a little older.....

Anyway - all I can say is that seeking help is not an admission of weakness and being macho about your health is stupid - if you do have a problem - go and get some help! (often just asking helps in itself - least for the mind based stuff)

Recipe of the week - Apple Crumble

Nigel Slater is a cook I have followed form many years  mainly positively, but occasionally, he does get drawn into faffing about too much. Whilst I like the "throw it together" method of Nigella on occasions, I do like the considered view of eating that Nigel S provides.

So to that end - can I recommend his Apple Crumble made special by the use of oats to avoid that "concrete crumble" problem that the usual recipes can create. For me it has to go with custard (Bird's or bought) but many will prefer cream i suppose!



  1. Howdy Mike
    Good to see you've put finger back to keyboard.
    I've just completed the Way of the Roses as a Lad and Dad adventure with Liam.
    If I could work out how to post it on here with the photos, I'd supplement your blog.
    See you

  2. Here goes
    Way of the Roses day 1
    Early on 25 October, with storms looming, Liam and I set off on our bikes for Euston station and our trip across the north of England.
    We arrived in Morecambe about 12.30 in sunshine as bright as you could expect for late October and set off for the prom and the start of our ride across the country to Bridlington.
    As the tide was out, we didn’t dip our wheels in the sea, but went out as far as we could on the stone quay and then turned round and followed the well-marked trail east.
    The first part was fairly easy riding along a smooth traffic free path by the river, till we reached the Crook o’Lune. From there we took quiet roads to start climbing gently out of the Trough of Bowland towards the Pennines.
    After about 16 miles we were getting hungry (as we’d only had some malt loaf on the train). and as we dropped down into Wray, we found tea and delicious Bakewell Tart at the Bridge House Farm Tearooms to keep us going for the next 20 miles.
    After tea, we again climbed gently, this time out of Lancashire into the Yorkshire Dales. Liam (a typically taciturn teenager) was enchanted by the beautiful scenery and became quite lyrical about it. The weather kept fine for us, throughout and we reached the Lion Inn at Settle in mid afternoon, giving us plenty of time to unload our bikes, wash and then watch Zulu on the telly, while sampling Thwaites’ thoroughly good thirds of ales.

  3. Way of the Roses day 2
    After a fortifying meal and sustaining breakfast we loaded up and carried on east in misty low cloud. Within 100 yards of leaving the inn, before we were warmed up and with digesting breakfast still commanding the attention of our bodies’ energy, we were eyeing a steep cobbled incline with suspicion. After a while the cobbles gave way to smoother tarmac, but with no relenting of the incline. We kept to our saddles for half a mile, but with no end to the climb in view, we got off and took Shank’s pony the other half mile to the top. From there we had a gentler uphill, then rode up another steep sting to crest Rye Loaf Hill and followed by an undulating 15 mile drop to the River Wharfe at Burnsall. We took elevenses at the Wharfe View tea room to fortify us for the rigours ahead.
    And did we need it! Once we’d crossed the bridge over the Wharfe it was uphill all the way. Some bits steep, other bits steeper, to reach the highest point on the Way of the Roses (1,325 feet).
    A bit further on from here we descended about 1,000 feet from Greenhow to Pateley Bridge in a mile and a bit. 46 mph is quite exciting on a bike and we had plenty of scope to go much faster, but the prospect of slippery fallen leaves on the road encouraged regular braking to keep speeds reasonable.
    The climbs out of Pateley Bridge were relatively easy (compared to those earlier in the day), but the whole thing was quite fatiguing and we were a bit tired and grumpy as we rolled into the National Trust café at Fountains Abbey about 2.00 for some slightly disappointing scoff.
    Fuelled and happier, we set off on the remaining half of the distance we had to cover that Saturday. From Ripon, it’s pretty flat and we arrived in York in the early evening gloom.
    Saturday had been a longest day Liam had spent in the saddle, so to cheer us up, I had booked us into Melton’s Restaurant. Our hotel’s best feature was its relative proximity to this gastronomic pearl. Even better, we arrived early for our booking and were sent away to the nearest pub where we enjoyed a couple of pints of Landlord. That and the short walk set us up nicely for our meal – oh yeah, the 75 miles helped too.

  4. Way of the Roses day 3
    On Sunday we set out for our final leg. After negotiating a few diversions getting out of York, we went through Murton (almost home from home). Then, wheels spinning we cursed and slid along muddy track through a farm, then to Stamford Bridge and on across the Vale of York through Pocklington to the first short climb to the Rambler’s Rest in Millington.
    As the clocks had gone back and it was already after 11.00 I was starting to be concerned about reaching Bridlington before dark. On leaving Millington, we soon hit the ridge and at a T-junction saw another cyclist speeding by in our direction. She waved, we followed. I think she was a member of the Brigadoon Road Club as she swept through the valley and out the other end giving us a pacer to follow, show us the best lines to take on the corners and significantly raising our speed. By the time she turned off (towards the improbably named Wetwang) we were properly warmed up and keen to keep our pace high.
    We carried on east, a stiff breeze on our backs till we turned south at Kirkburn and faced some of the force that was mostly helping us along. The countryside around Driffield is mostly agricultural, with few feeding opportunities. Again we were beginning to get tired and hungry. A missed turning at Nafferton landed us outside the village shop. I went in bought 2 Lucozades, 3 bananas and 3 chocolate bars. We ate most of them and set off again through the Yorkshire Wolds much more content and energetic onto the final ridge. From here we glided down to Bridlington and the end of the ride, where we celebrated by finishing the remaining Yorkie bar.
    At Bridington, we found our guest house. Knocked on the door. Waited. Knocked again. Waited.
    ‘Hello, we’ve got a booking for tonight.’
    ‘Really? We were expecting you tomorrow.’s always getting things wrong.’
    After that, it was fine. Except the storm blew down the power lines outside Seven Sisters and no trains could get south to Kings Cross on Monday, so we had an extra day in Brid!
    Travelling through Yorkshire, we saw a fair bit of local TV news. It seems there’s a local drugs craze for using dentists’ syringes to take ecstacy.

    It’s known as e by gum.