Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Monday, 19 November 2007
2. The Boy (will I get in trouble for putting him second?)
3. Icebreaker 200 bodyfit thermal top. I could not survive my cold university office, nor night rides, nor existing in general this time of year without it.
4. Slightly green bananas
5. Smartwool socks (especially the ones with snowflaks round the ankle)
6. GAP denim mini skirt
7. Tea. What kind? Builders of course.
8. Hashing in the rain
9. Porridge with apple bits in.
10. My new bike - arriving next week...
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Thursday, 15 November 2007
I rode from university to my friend Phil's for dinner tonight. It took me over an hour with a huge bag full of laptop and papers named things like "social class and the meanings of physical activity: a social constructionist's viewpoint" which are now dog eared and slightly damp. I got a twitch in my shoulder from the weight digging in to a nerve.
I also lost the feeling in both feet, one calf and all my fingers. My knees ached from the cold and my nose turned red. Even after a hot shower and 3 mugs of tea I sat with my ankles tucked underneath me to warm my feet. I failed. They are still cold.
Nicky offered me a lift home and for the first time in a long long time I accepted. I am tired and slow and cold and wanted my bed. I discarded by bike at the back door and reached for the fluffy bedsocks quicker than you could say 'assoss overshoes'.
Good Thing: I didn't miss the next train.
Bad Thing: My bike fell over on the train.
Good Thing: I wore my new Swrve Knickers today and they were lush.
Bad Thing: I forgot my sunglasses.
Good Thing: At least the sun was out.
Good Thing: Made it to Uni on time.
Good Thing: Wasn't cold for the ride home.
Good Thing: My untried commuting lights turned out to be little gems.
Good Thing: I got a really cheery "hello" as a series roadie overtook me going uphill.
Good Thing: I've just about ridden enough miles to justify a slice of apple crumble.
Bike riding equals more good things than bad, that's why we do it!
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Monday, 12 November 2007
it has been a long time since i've had to cope with weather like this and i can't remember what i need to wear to stay warm under these conditions (did you notice it's also going to be raining? oh yeah). factor in the windchill of a cyclist travelling between 15 and 20mph and it gets a whole load colder. the pile of clothes by the bed currently consists of:
endura mt500 short
very old pace cycles roubaix tights
icebreaker ls wool base layer
howies ls wool base layer with the long zip-up neck
mint sauce race and flowers jersey (tis a well known fact that bright pink makes you feel warm)
two buffs (one for head, one for neck, eyes and nose in the gap between the two)
gore softshell gloves
and, er, the hip flask with the sloe gin in it.
well, i figure if it works for 24's... ;o)
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Gav Atkins, Meg Bichard and myself going for a bit of post-Rockies road action. Gav squeezed into that jersey and had us in hysterics!
Meg at the end of the final stage. We were chasing the girls in 2nd place and would have had a good chance at overtaking if Meg hadn't decided that 6 inches was enough room to squeeze between 2 guys. It wasn't and she took all of them down, covering herself in blood and coal dust in the process! 3rd by 15 seconds on the final day. What an end to the race!
But 60 miles of pure clean sunlight, gentle climbing, rolling descents and lots of breathing has knitted together my destructive thoughts and (although still under inspection from Chief Rook), my brain is certainly developing a warm fluff lining and a functional, circular shape.
OK maybe I overdid the birdsnest analogy, but you get the point. Dwelling and crying into cups of hot chocolate: BAD. Riding and thinking and smiling at sheep: GOOD.
Here endeth the lesson.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
The peace and quiet of a drifting autumn has passed now, though. I nipped out for a quick half hour on the cross bike this evening - having spent a lovely but lazy day not doing a lot apart from talk and eat - and the challenge being to get back before the half-drunk mug of tea on the desk got cold. It was past dusk and raining when I opened the door, fine, jacket on, go anyway, don't be lazy. By the time I got to the Anchor and turned south to cross the flood plain, the wind was howling down from the hill and blowing the rain across the beam of light in shards. A mile of steering into the squall, right ear filling up with water, tights resembling shining black seal fleece, squinting hard to keep the lenses in my eyes and the spray out, more like sailing than riding, and then as suddenly as it came the rain ceased and left with the wind alone, whipping through the trees and sending sheets of leaf fall spinning to the ground. Black tarmac swathed in orange and umber, occasional tyre tracks, floods and puddles papered flat with colour.
It's dark now, and late, and in the morning the view out of the window will be less rainbow and more monotone, the wood a wet and shining black against a silver sky, the red brick houses diminished and small. With the wind and Rachmaninoff alternately gusting against the window from either side, I have a hat on and yet more tea beside me and the balance has tipped suddenly and without doubt towards winter. I can't say I am looking forward to it...
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
3 hours of lovely, incident free riding followed. Such a great day for being out in the Lancashire hills. Sunshine and smiles all round.
Monday, 5 November 2007
I chose to sweep up the remant thoughts of this anger and scrape them into the emotional rubbish bin along with the slightly furry skin off last night's smoked mackarel.
But I keep back one memory from the weekend which makes the girl in me smile coyly, tilt my head to one side and go 'ah'.
Picture this. 3 hours of mentally technical and hard riding, too ridiculous to be anything other than unnecessarily exhausting. Crawling back to the car on the final bridleway, sweat beginning to cool down and the sun beginning to run out of power. The boy and I slow down and stop, tip toes on the ground to steady ourselves, tired bikes and tired faces pointing towards the view.
In the valley below there were layers of smokey green hills, fog clinging to the bottoms of each dip, hiding the light polution and turning all sharp lines into soft sketches: The perfect soft ambient painting of a Somerset scene. Exmoor in the distance was blanketed in mist and the sun was that beautiful autumnal pinky-orange.
And he held my hand and what was left of my steely resolve melted completely.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Friday, 2 November 2007
It's a mountain bike stage race that covers some of the wildest, most inhospitable parts of northern Australia. To finish is an achievement that only the toughest riders attain - but this year, Marc Herremans, a paraplegic Ironman triathlete, has finished all 1400km on a handcycle alongside all the other able bodied riders, who formed a guard of honour at the finish to recognise his incredible determination.
Have a read.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
To translate - Last night was annual the Bristol halloween ride. A group of 50 witches and devils (with the odd crow and ghost) rode around Ashton Court and Leigh Woods and came to a halt by a camp fire ("I don't don't know they got persmission for that" - sweet!) where we split into teams and between swigs of wine chased around a tricky singletrack loop in relay. When you look at it like that its seems almost normal but think about what it looks like for people not 'in it' - it is actually quite bizarre.
So I have absolute sympathy for people who raise one eyebrow when they see the scarred legs and muscled thighs which set me apart from 'normal' girls and who, when they discover my weekend shenanigans think I'm a bit, well, tribal. I am, I follow the mountainbiking tribe. I worship the leaders. I adhere to traditions and hold certain days, rules, events or artefacts as ritually sacred. I'm comfortable with that because my identity is entwined with and reliant on that way of life. Bikes are my social prop and riding my form of cultural capital which I cash in for friendship and respect within my group where this kind of capital has some currency.
We take it for granted, this sense of bike-oriented belonging, but it is special and we should be proud.