I spent last weekend with my son.
On Saturday, we spent our day cycling the trails of Sheffield. We grimaced our way up many hills and scooted our way back down, mostly at a fair lick, smiling all the time.
Lunch was simple. Nothing more than a small handful of olives and feta cheese, plucked from the plastic container with wooden chip shop forks that had been lurking in the nether regions of my windcheater for longer than I care to admit.
Feasting in the fresh air is a tonic in itself, but mid-ride it can sometimes be a wonderfully indulgent affair. I think I was born to picnic. Fresh air improves the flavour of food. Fact.
Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing and generally idling, whilst the prospect of a curry for tea kept us smiling. Not just any old curry though. The world’s best lamb madras no less. Takeaways are a very rare treat for us, but on the once-in-a-blue-moon occasions that it is possible, having Akhtars in Killamarsh nearby is a godsend. Purveyors of spicy/aromatic lamb madras perfection.
Sunday saw an early start. We had an easy pedal across town to visit my sister and were treated to baked Camembert and crusty bread. The weird aroma of the famously stinky cheese being easily offset by the divine taste.
It was in this post-cheese-moment-of-magic, that I reflected on a few home truths. The first thing that ambled into my seldom still mind, was the realisation that my son is now as tall as me. A solid looking six-footer. He’s just turned 14 and he’s caught me up. I seriously doubt that he’s done growing. In truth, he’s only just getting started. Another month should see him take ‘the title’ proper.
I will, of course, abdicate my title with good grace.
I have always enjoyed being the tallest member of my famously short-legged family, but being six feet tall simply doesn’t cut the mustard any more…
© Pedalpower65. Posted from WordPress for Android
Yesterday, I got back on my bike after a short ‘time out’.
I fought past the cloudiness in my mind and pointed my bike towards the horizon.
The first thing that I noticed was that my new Revolution Triad bicycle rides quite differently to my old GT. It seems to require less effort to move forward, and it changes gear almost imperceptibly. Really. It makes no noise whatsoever. Super-quick and super-silent – I like it. A lot.
The second thing that I noticed is that the brakes are immensely strong. I’ve not used hydraulic disc brakes before, and the Avid Juicys fitted to this bike have stopping power in spades. I’m no lightweight, but they never flinched when used, even at fairly high speeds on steepish hills. This, I really like.
The first few miles ridden on hard trails, flashed by, but soon I encountered mud. Not mildly brown water, but thick, gloopy, suck-you-off-your-bike mud.
I had no idea how hard it is to traverse mud fields. I do now. I’ll be honest, most of them defeated me and left me pushing. It’s not just the lack of traction, but the lack of steering too. On one particular downslope, I was pedalling frantically hard, aiming at 45 degrees, to merely get down the hill. A proper Laurel and Hardy moment (with me playing the bigger-boned of the two…).
I’ll be the first to admit that I chose my route badly. The trails that I’ve been riding all summer were rendered impassable by heavy weather, and I will need to find some new routes until they dry out.
However, I’m back on my bike and that’s good news. My usual post-ride jubilation was tempered somewhat by a life-sapping tiredness, a result of over-exertion and new medication. But, as I hauled my cycle back up the stairs to my apartment, I noticed that I was smiling.
I love my new bike. I just have to clean the thing now…
I haven’t been able post for a while.
The up and down of mental ill-health sometimes gets stuck on the down stroke and I resolved never to bother people with my thoughts when I don’t have anything positive to say.
To make it worse, I recently got myself a shiny new bicycle which I haven’t been able to ride.
Cycling is my no.1 coping strategy, and I’ve really missed it’s hugely beneficial effect on my mood. Normally, if I can manage get my leggings on, I can usually harass, cajole and nag myself to get my bicycle down the stairs and outside. Even this step-by-step method has failed me recently. Piss-poor performance (excuse my language).
That said, tomorrow, I intend to force my sorry-looking backside out of the door for a spin, regardless.
If I don’t, you have my permission to call me Ebeneezer…
Wednesday 6 November
Today, I got back on the saddle.
It’s only a week since I fell off and broke my bicycle, but my legs were already protesting like billy-o. It appears (in simple terms) that cycling legs, have to cycle, or else they start to become sitting-on-the-sofa legs (non-technical term) and they get all hissy when you call them into action. Any attempt to teach them who’s boss is strongly resisted. I have stubborn legs. That much is clear.
And, despite being wholly inanimate, a saddle also has dillusions of grandeur. Saddles only have one good position. Just one. If you don’t set it properly, it becomes, quite literally, a pain in the arse.
However, despite stubborn legs and an arsey saddle, I pointed my shiny new bike towards the hills (not hard in Sheffield – it’s all hills).
Riding on a mini-tsunami of lactic acid and chaffing, I pedalled towards the horizon. 10 miles on and I’m back home, ruddy faced and panting like St Bernard. The minor saddle-related griping was resolved with a quick flick of an Allen key and the stubborn legs gave up whining after a mile and did me proud.
The cycle path to recovery lives on. Yay!
Monday 4 November
The past 24 hours have been truly exceptional. It was as if I’d been sprinkled with fairy dust for a day.
If I had (for some unexplained reason) randomly thrown a hundred slices of toast out of the kitchen window, they would have all landed the marmalade side up, on a plate, next to a cup of tea. When was the last time you had one of those days?
Yesterday afternoon, I had Sunday lunch with my close family. We ate soul food, drank (tea) and laughed ourselves silly. Perfect.
I also went to my weekly group, which was really helpful. A well-balanced mix of seriousness, openness, impromptu mirth and good advice. This group helps me. Period.
I also got a new bike. A proper, two wheeled bobby-dazzler. The right size, colour, spec and condition. Yay!
The icing on the cake however, was the news that fellow blogger from Australia, paid me the great compliment of nominating me for The Versatile Blogger award. I will cover this in much greater detail as soon as I get more WiFi access, but the past 24 hours has made me realise that true happiness doesn’t normally come in one big hit, but in smaller, bite-size pieces of good fortune, good friends and the occasional ‘random act of kindness’ thrown in for good measure. I have had a generous helping of all these things recently.
And the sun came out…
Thank you to everyone who helped me achieve a perfect 10/10, yourselves included.
© Pedalpower65. Posted from WordPress for Android
Saturday 2 November
Life without a cycle, is quite literally, driving me crazy.
I hadn’t actually realised just how much I had been using my bike to prop myself up. What I thought was a ‘little help’, was in fact, more of a major structural support.
The amount of times that I’ve subconsciously slipped on my leggings and gone to get my bike (since I broke it beyond repair), is quite frankly, embarrassing. I’m not kidding. I have clearly been reaching for my bike whenever I feel low, without even realising. That’s good thing. Finding an effective coping strategy is a very helpful thing indeed. The bad news is that I no longer have access to mine, and that’s a bit of a bugger. I’ve tried using my exercise cycle, but it simply doesn’t work anywhere near as well as being outdoors, on two wheels, in the fresh air. No comparison.
Drastic measures are called for. As it stands, I’m a cyclist without a cycle. I’m merely an ‘ist’. I used to be highly resourceful and able to fix anything. It’s amazing how easy that is to do with a little brass on your pocket. Maybe I’m not quite as resourceful as I thought. We’ll see…
Wednesday 30 October
Weather: Perfect for cycling
As I soared through the air, strangely unattached to my bicycle, I realised that I had been paid a visit by the cruel hand of fate, which had seen fit to flick me off my bike.
I use the word flick, because that best describes my freefall through the undergrowth/bushes/trees. A parabolic trajectory fuelled first by the energy from my substantial forward motion and then by gravity as the ever-present force of nature pulled me back to earth with an undignified crump.
At first, I lay completely still, not fully understanding what had just happened. Then, as my senses returned, I started the obligatory mental checklist. Breathing? Check. Can’t be dead then. Eyes? Blurred, but working. Pain? A little, but nothing to indicate serious injury.
As I slowly righted myself, I couldn’t immediately see my bicycle, so I raised myself back to full height. Still no sign.
I was unsure of which direction to look, so I circled round my landing spot until I came across a pile of crumpled wheels and cables that was once my bike, a good (but slightly worrying) 10 metres from where I landed. I must have truly ‘flown’. Once I had satisfied myself that I was mostly in one piece, I gathered the scattered parts and carried them home, luckily not a great distance.
At home, I gathered myself and took stock. The first thing that occurred to me was that the extra brass that I spent (many moons ago, when i had some) on a good cycle helmet had probably repaid itself in spades. Big thumbs-up to Urge Bikes Helmets (www.urgebike.com). The helmet is ruined, but it did its job. Proper job!
The second thing to hit me was that my trusty bike, especially the frame and wheels are well an truly buggered (‘scuse my language). This hit me hard. I’ve grown very attached to this bike recently and it has, at times, enabled my to escape from the shackles of mental ill-health.
Here lies my trusted GT Timberline, winged chariot and liberator of dreams. Rest in pieces valued friend.
This may curtail my cycle-born adventures temporarily. The cycle path to recovery probably doesn’t work quite as well without a bike.
© Pedalpower65. Posted from WordPress for Android