And Rest..

Right that’s me done for a week. Off to Sunny Devon tomorrow for a week where I can watch the kids get wet on the outside and I’ll be getting wet on the inside once these hated antibiotics are done.

One thing to share with you before I go; “the demon duck of doom” and the flesh eating Kangaroo as shown below.
The skull of an extinct giant, meat-eating kangaroo known as Ekaltadeta

Apparently these were found in Australia but sadly are now extinct. Shame really, this would be exactly the type of family pet that’d teach proper care and handling.

More here

In whinging injury news, I finally managed to have a shower using the proven “legbag” bathroom accoutrament. Ah the joy of the cool stream of water after five days dabbing around with a moist flannel was mostly offset by cheekily removing a dressing on my arm that I felt was medical overkill.

Welcome back bastard pain of scab removal. It’s been days since you were last here. Ow.

I’m taking my laptop with me if only so I can while away the pre-beer antibiotic evenings compiling the hospital diary.

No, I can hardly wait either.

Satorial Elegance

I think you’ll agree that there’s almost no social occasion where these much sought after trousering garments would not add both class and sophistication:

Sadly the pants are not included but this bag within a bag means at least I can at least take a shower. Otherwise the smell will lead our hosts nailing up the door in the holiday cottage and shouting “Bring out your dead“.

Obviously armed (legged?) with this cutting edge trouserette of choice, I’ll be fighting off the women with a stick. It’s hard to believe they’ve yet to hit the cool club scene in London yet.

I’m thinking of myself as a fashion trailblazer 🙂

Forget hangover cures…

I need something slightly stronger for this:

Riding on Sunday as an excuse to go for a couple of beers. Lost the front end on an off camber corner and ripped open my knee (and other various body parts) on some Chiltern flint. Couldn’t helped noticing that when I was looking at my knee, the tendon was staring back at me. That’s not right I thought and it wasn’t.

Seven hours in A&E while they prodded, cleaned, injected into the open wound and before deciding it’d have to be cleaned out under a general. Of those seven hours, about one hour was being treated while the other six were spent waiting for x-rays, doctors, consultants and lots of other busy people. Still nice to see the NHS is staffed up on all our Taxes eh?

Next day they didn’t do the op as they were busy. That’s ok as I didn’t really want to eat or drink anything for 30 hours while they threatened to take me to theatre. Finally cleaned and stitched it up on Tuesday and sent me home today mainly as I am the man who put the patient into impatient.

10 days before the stitches come out. Can’t have a shower, can’t drive, can’t do more than a comedy shuffle. Wife not impressed as we’re on hols next week and my contribution will likely be lying in a chair drinking beer.

And in case you’re interested, yes it bloody hurts.

Sausage in a bun

Hangovers. We’ve discussed them before. But because they occupy an increasingly worrying period of my morning and occasionally afternoons, it’s worth sharing my extensively researched cures. Not drinking is one but because even I’m not prepared to flirt with such a ridiculous notion, we’ll not only leave that there, we’ll poison it, bury it and pretend it was never a member of the family.

Talking of burying worthless notions, I was forced to extend this to an individual who selfishly pushed his slicky haired, stripy suited self in front of my much needed person at what we laughingly refer to the restaurant at work. Because you’re not allowed to call it a canteen. No, honestly. While my need for fried food was both medical and instant, he exhausted the – admittedly limited – patience of the fella behind the jump asking for his sausages just so. Then after a couple of refusals, he smeared these favoured bastions of the hungover with MARMALADE. Even in a state so close to catatonic, I could not let this pass. On enquiring pleasantly “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO THAT SAUSAGE YOU PERVERT” his only excuse – excuse mind you don’t confuse that with a reason or even a rational argument – was that he was South African and this kind of thing passed as normal behaviour in the mother country.

Obviously this left me with two options; the first was to explain that while we Brits accepted the empire was long gone and that certain cultural shifts were something to be embraced and even welcomed but there were limits and in this specific case, his condimentatory faux pas was way beyond the pale. Or I could kill him in case he felt the urge to breed.

Anyone asks about a South African Gentleman suffocated in a vat of marmalade tied to a pole sporting a sign “BROWN SAUCE OR KETCHUP IF YOU MUST”, you ain’t seen me right.

Anyway Hangover cures. It’ll have to wait for another time as a mate had turned up and he has beer. And munchies. I’m sure you understand 🙂 But don’t worry I’ll be back to it, there’s a definitive list but please feel free to post up your own. Not that I’ll acknowledge them, it’s not like this is a democracy or anything.

Hangovers and headwinds

A simple question. Why is it in the midst of a glorious summer under a sun kissed sky and riding on baking tarmac does an unruly headwind whip out of the annoying cupboard and beast you on the way to work? This only happens when you’re hungover. Trust me, I’ve done extensive research and my liver has suffered enough to definitively prove the hypothesis.

Thursday night after a couple* of beers and the odd healthy Malboro light (the diet of the true athlete), I literally flew home surfing on a heady toxin of endorphins and Amstal. Come the morning, the meteorological phenomena laymanly known as “that bastard headwind” was in full force pushing me backwards and reminding me of what I’d eaten the previous night.

Not even the introduction of a Bacon Sandwich and a pained expression stemmed the flow of wind. In fact, one could probably effectively argue it increased it. Hangovers you see, they fire up the wind generator and mock you in a temperate fashion.

* Note: this value has had the Dimension Transitional Wife Adjustment applied. Usually this ratio reduces the original value by a factor of 3. Therefore comments such as “Yeah, I just had a quick one with the boys and hurried home” have clearly been modified by DTWA.

The folders’ folder. They said it couldn’t be done.

And yet clearly bonkers British Inventor has lowered the bar even further with this.

Riding the A-bike

It’s wrong on a whole range of levels. Those wheels belong on a child’s scooter. Haven ridden my kid’s two wheel death machines, I can confirm they are essentially a fatal accident waiting to happen. Their only saving grace is it’s not far to fall when the inevitable wobbly wheeled shrubbery incident occurs, normally about 2 seconds after mounting the thing.

Clive’s monstrosity ratchets up the terror by precariously positioning the pilot – although I prefer the word victim – way up there on some dodgy space frame. It’s going to either drop into a London pothole and disappear into the Earth’s crust or wheelie like a cocaine fuelled Lippenzipper stallion and dump the idiot that bought it from the back pages of a Sunday Magazine on his arse and probably under a bus.

Still Natural selection eh? The mail order Dodo was made extinct under the no.93 bus to Crouch End. Shame.

Laughably during the launch (oh what an appropriate term that is), it was comprehensively burnt off by a Brompton. Yes, my hinged nemesis was seen as the “sensible” solution to folding cycles. The world has gone mad. Sir Clive didn’t feel the urge to ride it but then I guess he wants to enjoy his old age down the shed creating solutions to problems nobody – except those voices in his head – has. Remember the Zike Bike?

Still it’s a proper singlespeed. Pointless, dysfunctional, unlikely to be ridden more than two miles and latterly abandoned in the back of the garage, crouching embarrassed in the shadows.

Full story here: if you must.

I wish it would drop off..

The second part in my odd weekend was visiting the local witch doctor masquerading as a “Massage Therapist and Holistic Healer”. Sounds a bit hokum? Agreed but with a neck full of pain and a pair of twitching shoulder blades, one must cut ones’ cloth appropriately. Even if it’s cheesecloth in a sixties psychedelic style.

I’ve tried Physio on it and all that does is move the pain about. The doctor is convinced it stress related and offered useful medical advice such as “don’t spend all day in front of a computer” which would be fine if “don’t pay the mortgage” was a feasible option.

I used to frequent a massage therapist who having retrained from being a baker has shovel like hands, a frighteningly bald pate and a countenance most resembling Blofelt’s no.1 thug. Nice fella though although I used to leave the session feeling as if I’d paid thirty quid to be worked over by a baseball bat.

This latest incarnation is rather different. Motherly, fiftyish and apologetic for causing me pain and skilled in arts other than massage. We’ve had Reiki (which I honestly believed was a drink and I didn’t begrudge her it after 30 minutes trying to unknot stressed muscles), Indian Scalp Massage (is it just me who worries about that? Indians? Scalps? You know where I’m going with this) and some other treatment that I don’t even pretend to understand.

Has it helped? Well obviously I can type again. Not sure that’s a good thing. The Jury is out on the long term effects but if things don’t improve soon, I’ll be attacking the offending area with a hacksaw.

Anyway beer is medicine isn’t it? Full of natural ingredients. Thought so.

It’s dropped off!

It’s been an odd weekend – not totally fulfilling nor entirely without incident but odd none the less.

Firstly – and you may wish to imitate the sound of a one person’s ego trumpet being sounded here – I managed to limp off that total mind fuck that is the log drop at Chicksands. It looks a bit like this.

For those of you who don’t ride bikes, think of the challenge as essentially riding off a small cliff with no ground visible whatsoever as you fly blindly into space. For those of you who do, I’ll just lightly bask in your adoration.

There are a few caveats though. Firstly it’s taken a year of non progression to get this far. June 26th 2005 was a date neon pinked in the ride diary as I conquered the qualifier for the log drop. Once you’ve done the large ladder (drop 5-6 feet, carry about 10-12 feet), you’re ready for the log.

Well not me obviously. Six more visits, six times it never looked likely. There’s one bigger obstacle that the log drop, and at this rate I’ll be 192 before attempting it based on this level of progression. Secondly I was talent compensated in terms of the bike. A kindly soul lent me a six inch travel full suspension sort of trail bike that a proper rider could launch off Jupiter and land smoothly in Milton Keynes.

And for most of the day it wasn’t really happening. This super sprung bike mirrored my normal chosen steed for Chicksands only in that had two wheels. It was longer and heavier which made for some quality nose first dives off the ladders. Big forks saved me but didn’t really give me much confidence nor did lending it to a mate who rode it off almost everything with consummate ease. So not the bike then. Like that was a surprise.

The run in to the drop is a fast downslope downgrading to almost flat before the log appears large in your focus and the rest of the world disappears. The phrase “A leap of faith” could have been specifically coined for this drop. I’d never really tried it before – oh I’d rolled up to the end and stared down into the abyss but at all times both hands were locked hard onto the brake levers. This time though when I took a sighter, I knew it’d have to go the next run or it’d have beaten me for the day. Maybe forever. Lots of my riding buddies, who I don’t think are beneficiaries from of my death in service insurance policies, repeatedly point out that there’s no reason I can’t ride this. Except that I’m shit scared of course – I’m not sure they’ve taken that into account. I was twitching nervously, sweating from glands I’m sure don’t exist in any medical dictionary and breathing like Darth Vader having sex with a vacuum cleaner.

Top of the slope, clear my mind. And I mean clear, think of nothing at all, not technique, not consequences, just release the brakes and be a happy passenger cleared for take off. Half way down my brain rebelled and attempted to wrest control of the brake levers but by then it was far too late. Failing to stop at the edge is akin to falling off the edge of a waterfall. The first thing to hit the ground would be my head closely followed by an all body impact from a 40lb bike. That was even scarier than just – as those who understand the nuances of such things “riding off the fucker

I just rode off the fucker then. It was fine, no big deal, dunno why I’d made such a huge fuss about it. Certainly the seconds of silence between take off and landing were mildly perturbing but really there was no excuse for the emotional celebrations that followed. I threw the bike away and high fived complete strangers smug in the knowledge that I was now in the “log drop club” and other people weren’t. Yes, I really am that shallow. No I don’t intend to do anything about it.

Riding off it looks like this for those with cahoonies the size of village show root vegetables. I was having it somewhat more medium verging on the small.

But to “own” any drop (frankly I’ve never owned a drop, but I’ve rented a few on a good day), one has to survive three times at the scaffold of fear. Only then are you admitted to the club and can cheekily ignore it for a while on future visits claiming “fork issues“, “inappropriate tyres” or “bad fish the previous evening“. But now it wasn’t messing with my head, it was just another thing I knew I could do. Not well, not that quickly and certainly lacking in any style, unless hanging on for dear life and gurning has come back into fashion, but serially and without too much fear.

A little faster, a little more committed and little further out before falling back to earth cushioned by my borrowed big springs changed my state to “log ownee”. I’ve never been so proud – no honestly.

Nobody cares though. All my friends did it ages ago, my wife and kids don’t understand it and – rightfully – care even less as long as I’m back in one piece and even my ego shudders against the prospect of shouting it from the rooftops of an Internet forum.

I tell you what though, it sure beats hell out of putting up fence posts. I should know, that’s my reward for playing silly buggers yesterday.

Other Rants.

There have been a few articles in the papers lately regarding Cyclists abusing the highway code, an increase in road deaths and a possible link between the two. Rather than waste my own energy rubbishing this nonsense, I’ll leave it to a couple of fellow ranters who do it rather better.
First Bez makes Nigel Havers look rather silly.
Oh, good grief. Look what happens when you mix Nigel Havers with erstwhile fanzine of middle-English bigotry, The Daily Mail. You’ve guessed it, Havers is on a roll this week clocking up as many column inches as he can, devoting each one to the usual blinkered crap about cyclists.Continuing the hypocrisy set by his earlier comments, Havers moans:

It was our greatest modern writer George Orwell who, in his 1941 essay on the English character, conjured up the evocative image of old maids cycling through the mist on their way to Communion…

Gentility and modesty have been replaced by aggression and arrogance. Brimming with hostility, utterly indifferent to those around them, they appear to think they are above the law.

Of course, “they” refers to cyclists, though anyone less retarded than Havers (a Teletubby, for instance) might note that it could equally – if not more equally, if Havers will pardon me briefly hijacking his Orwellian imagery bandwagon – refer to motorists, or indeed the public at large.

Havers is clearly having a bit of a blood pressure problem (well, it is for The Daily Mail after all – the poor readers can’t possibly read anything unless it’s bilious tripe, bless ‘em) – he continues,

Normal rules about red lights, pavements and one-way streets are treated as a matter of supreme indifference by this new army of Lycra-clad maniacs, whose every action demonstrates their contempt for pedestrians and motorists.

Let me paraphrase that: Normal rules about speed limits, mobile phones and parking restrictions are treated as a matter of supreme indifference by the incumbent army of tin-box-clad maniacs, whose every action demonstrates their contempt for pedestrians and cyclists. See how it works, Nigel? You can generalise about everyone. I’m sure you don’t abuse the speed limits and parking restrictions – although we all know about the mobile phone thing now.

When a cyclist bangs on the roof of my car or scrapes my mirror without even bothering to apologise, I sometimes wish for the good old days of Edwardian England, when young men would be sent to jail for swearing in the streets, causing a danger to the public or cycling without a light.

Oddly enough I’ve never had an experience “when a cyclist bangs on the roof of my car or scrapes my mirror without even bothering to apologise.” Havers conjures up a ludicrous image of a cyclist riding through the streets, wilfully hammering away at cars for no reason; but then there’s the rub: Motorists who get their cars hit by cyclists believe these things happen for no reason, and that’s because they have either just nearly mown down someone they didn’t even see, or they simply believe that nearly mowing people down is perfectly within their rights (they – allegedly – pay more tax, goddam it, it must buy them something).

And oddly enough, rear cycle lights weren’t always compulsory (the reason being that it was the responsibilty of the faster vehicle to sufficiently illuminate its way ahead) – I can’t seem to find when this legislation was introduced, but it might make an interesting point – not that Havers will give a toss about the facts getting in the way of a good gobshite.

Havers really flails wildly in his ranting, pulling in seemingly random generalisations, assumptions, suppositions and pretty much anything he can to spit blood about anyone on two wheels.

They probably go on regular cheap flights overseas to hip new locations in eastern Europe or Africa, feeling very good about themselves as their planes emit huge clouds of noxious gases.

They do not bother to question whether their garish Lycra garments were made by children in the Third World, or, indeed, whether their bicycle was manufactured in some exploitative, low-wage factory in China.

Now come on, Nigel, let’s see your air travel schedule and compare it to mine; let’s see where all the bits of your car were made. Have you really gone and checked out the working conditions in the cycle factories in Taiwan? Of course you haven’t. Do you really buy your clothes from firms such as Howies? Of course you don’t. No-one buys all their stuff from unimpeachable sources even if there are any. But there you go, it just wouldn’t be Daily Mail to take look in the mirror (pun not intended) now and again, would it?

And after this rather splendid spleen vent, it seems an appropriate moment to let Nick let rip at the latest oh so simple solution to the Death to all cyclists campaign supported by almost everyone in London.

The Times Online today reported that cycling deaths are on the rise. Partly this is a result of more commuters taking to their bikes in London.I can’t agree with this simplistic response from Brake:

Mary Williams, Brake’s chief executive, said: “It is no surprise that cyclists, one of the most vulnerable groups of road users, are dying in increasing numbers. Britain’s roads are still plagued by speeding drivers, as well as law-breaking uninsured, unlicensed, drunk and drugged drivers.”

It’s that kind of obsession with speed instead of educating car drivers about the needs of other road users that achieves nothing. Cars infringing into my local cycle lanes mostly do it at a crawl, well under 10mph. I’d put money on none of them being drugged or drunk either.

This childish thinking has led to a policy of “enforcement, enforcement, enforcement” instead of “enforcement, education and engineering”

We cyclists are the ones who pay the price for that shortsightedness.

Both top fellas who write interesting, well researched and sometimes downright funny stuff. Check them out.

Proper RLJ’ing

Last week I ran a red light. No change there except this time there was a train coming. I have to cross the little commuter line on the way to the station and if the barriers are down when I get there, there’s little chance I’ll make my train because I’m late.

I didn’t want to miss the train and it was only when I’d decided to stupidly ignore the flashing red lights and was sprinting for the other side that the barriers started to drop. It was about this time that I saw the train hurtling towards me in the not so far distance. I sashayed between the dropping barriers in full view of the now “ooooh that’s really quite close” speeding train and popped out the far side with a heart pumping at 200 beats per minute.

I’ll not be doing that again. A wheel dropping into the track is the stuff of nightmares. I should know I’ve been having them.

Someone one said “better 30 minutes late to the office than 30 years early for the next life”. He was talking sense.