Keep taking the Tablets

First a complaint. Surprising to hear this from a man who is so well adjusted to the rhythm of the world, and entirely tolerant of stupidity powered by marketing. But there it is – well here it is actually: The next individual who feels to suffix their smugmail(tm) with some little ditty regarding the end device shall be consuming said smart device through one of two orifices.

With the aid of a spade if necessary. I care not if your latest missive has “been sent from you iPhone” or “intentionally brief as spewed from thumb wielding Blackberry boredom”.  If email etiquette informed by the wielding of garden implements is unsuccessful, I shall be forced to launch a counter battery “Please excuse the brevity, slate is bloody expensive and my chisel needs sharpening”

On the one hand, while my snoop cocking at the triviality of shiny-new-stuff technology is becoming increasingly vocal, I cannot but lust after the bastard love child of a tablet and netbook.  You see I cannot – and will not – succumb to the crazy idea that £500 is a fine price to consume the web on a keyboard-less screen.  And that position remains firm even after being shown exactly how clever an accelerometer is.

But…but…but.. that Asus* is one smart design. It’s like version 2 of a netbook – another technology I never really understood, and there’s some cheap Dell shit sat in a drawer at home to show how easy it is to dismiss such hype right after you’ve spent real money on one  – kind of funky and useful.

Any such purchase by a trend chaser such as I is doomed to determine a future already played out by such technological titans as Betamax and the Apple Newton.  But it does have two things to recommend it: a) it’s not made by Apple who have turned smugness into a religion and therefore should be shunned by proper engineering types and b) it’s actual usable for something other than viewing web/games/norks** from funny angles.

There’s some hidden benefits as well. Firstly my dumbphone(tm) will probably commit suicide on seeing something four waves of technology downstream of its’ own digitally stunted world. This would be a good thing as, regardless of the limitless abuse I meter out to the bloody thing, it resolutely refuses to die.

Secondly my kids would think me cool for about ten seconds before realising it wasn’t an iPad. At which point it’d be chucked in the bucket of “uncool dad” which includes Mountain Bikes, ability to make “horse in distress noises” and inability to understand what the hell is going on in Dragonball Z***

It’s all a bit electronic fantasy tho as Carol will rightly “value engineer” any such purchase with a simple “What’s it for?”. And, because she is entirely immune to the power of marketing and bullshit, this leaves me little wriggle room other than “it’s my birthday soon”

Still at my age, the money would probably better spent on a CAT scan 😉

* A name sniggeringly amusing until you mate it with the fourteen word product name/version which someone takes the gloss of its’ smuttiness.

** Taken from my old mate Steve’s description of how he spent one night with a bevy of drunk nurses. It’s is a derivative of “nork snorkelling”. Fairly sure you can work out the rest.

*** “He’s dead Dad” “What the one running about and fighting? I’d be inclined to ask for a second opinion

I am calm.

Brean Down Sloping

And here’s a picture of a tree to remind myself how calm I am. Because there are a number of reasons that such mental nirvana may soon be transformed into a state best described as 30% tourettes, 30% head banging lunatic and 40% roof jumping depressive.

The major reason is that CLiC24 is just around the corner. Well 60 miles due south if today’s pedantry is geographically based. Now six weeks ago, this wasn’t a problem at all; some of my confidence was based on hard winter’s riding, some good early season form, the onset of BST and drying trails. Although it was the “six weeks away” that really swung it from terrifying to something even to look forward too.

Well it’s here now. Soon I’ll be looking back on it. Possibly from some kind of medical institution. I lost two weeks of riding to a leaky elbow and seemingly two more to work/holidays and – more worryingly – apathy. Should be out riding now but pretending I’m tapering for the weekend. Which sounds WAY better than “sitting in front of a ‘puter wonder what beer goes best with nachos”.

Been flying a lot instead. Been crashing a lot as well. One model needs some life saving surgery that will inevitably end well if Carol is involved or badly if powertools are. Obviously I’m keen to get to the core of the problem by the simple application of a motorized blade. Might consider that on the bike after this weekend.

So not ridden as much as I should. Going to manage a single ickle ride which – if we’re as lucky as last week – shall end first on a rooty downhill track with cheeky steps and latterly in the pub. Where I shall talk a good game about exactly how our now reduced team of two shall storm down the leaderboard through the ruthless execution of our race strategy.

It goes like this “ride a lap, have a beer“. I feel it’ll work well for four or five laps. After which it probably won’t work at all. And neither shall I if my previous performances are anything to go by. Yet, ever the deluded optimist, I’m treating a team mutiny leaving us exactly half staffed as something of a bonus. This way I have the opportunity to ride more laps at a leisurely pace. Assuming it’s not snowing.

Great charity tho remember: I shall make sure my best – however un-best that is – is hauled round the course as many times as possible.  One final thing does worry me though, if I don’t really fancy riding at the moment, how the hell am I going to feel afterwards?

Be happy..

Get ahead. Get a hat

I didn’t post the picture of my “organic body armour”. Definitely need to turn safe search on for that. A chunk of the right side of the honed athletic frame / mildly chubby middle area splashed down in the crash is missing.

In its’ place are large red wields, yellow and purple bruising and stitches. Plus some assorted scarring that seems to doing it’s best to complete a large join the bloody dots puzzle.

After that description, might’ve be better just to post it 😉

Sore today in case you’re interested. Bruising in all the obvious places, some swelling which isn’t as exciting as it sounds.  Thankfully my backup drinking arm is in full working order. In fact I am somewhat over engineered in terms of Disaster Recovery for getting my wine quota. Probably end up hacking it off in the next crash in a “value engineering” approach to riding.

In case the “God of Crashing” is on-line, I AM JUST JOKING. No more accidents this year please, I have a low pain/boredom threshold.

Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Rock: Mid-Trail, nasty misshapen lump, anchored grimly to a steep and loose descent. Requires avoidance or commitment.

Paper: “Fell off Bike“. Scrawled about four times across two hospitals. Appended with “significant abrasions to right side” and “elbow cut, bone in view

Scissors: “This might sting a bit” says the child-Doctor in her bedside pre-laceration chat.

Post lurgey comes a desperate need to ride. After a week off, the trails are running super fast, so we’re on a speed mission. First descent dispatched in a blur of hip-jumps and mini doubles. Wheels off the ground, bike whooshing through spring-leaved trees, brain some distance behind.

Big grins, bullets dodged. Climb and climb but going well, eight days of not riding fails to spike the fitness balloon of three months solid effort. Feels good to be back in the hills, day fading, bike lights dancing in the twilight, so dry and so fast, going to be an epic.

You go first“. Ego stroked, I go as hard as I dare, sketchy, it’s loose and my brain is still not calibrated for the speed, think about rock step, dither, engage fuck it gland, fail to get a line or a decent pop.

Bad stuff happens. Tankslapper briefly caught, thoughts of redemption founder on second rock, abandon bike calling “turtle” as over bar exit has me wrapping limbs to the inside. Cacophony of bike and rider smashing down the trail. Goes on far too long, roll, roll, roll, miss tree, momentum done, pain starts.

Big one that, you okay” / “Grrr…yes…no..fuck dunno fuckfuckfuck that hurts“. Important stuff works, nothing broken, much scarred. Abrasions run to half a side and most of an elbow. An elbow that has the bone poking out. End of ride then, get up, sit down quickly, feel a bit odd. Babble a bit. Hurt a lot.

Push down steep section then back on bike. So slow, where did the confidence go? Back there in the dirt with some of my skin probably. Road home, can’t quite remember which shifter does what. Did I fall on my head? Might have asked the question more than once.

Driven to Ledbury hospital which is big, clean and open but entirely unpopulated by anyone qualified to stitch me up. No amount of pleading saves me from the ball-ache of Hereford A&E. Refuse further chauffeuring and head homewards with a woozy head full of irritation and angst.

I know the drill. Shower now saves pain later. Sticky Grit has adhesive properties of superglue. Some swearing but it gets done. Double Vodka with a Nurofen chaser. Carol – entirely unflappable as ever – takes over the driving. A&E full of drunks, police and heavily pregnant teenagers smoking endless tabs.

Wait, wait, wait. Bored, bored, bored. Sore as well. Relieved to have swapped bloody and sweaty attire for something cleaner and less gritty. Still small on pleasures, long on fuck all happening when phone alarms me that in five hours I need to leave for London.

Midnight comes, nobody else does for some time. Then it’s us, ten minutes of not much drama, no antibiotics, some brave little soldier action while staring anywhere where the needle isn’t.

Home, wine transfusion, three hours sleep, bastard alarm call, get up very slowly. Driving isn’t any fun. Neither is sitting on a train for three hours typing one handed.

Both infinitely preferable to tube buffeting and eight hours of gentle ridicule and more pain that I’m ever going to show. Someone carelessly knocks my elbow and the world goes fuzzy and soft for a few seconds.

More tube, hide in the corner hoping it’ll be over soon. Fall onto train and fall into bar. Grab a beer and a brace of painkillers.  Worst is over. Bored of “aren’t you too old to be falling off bikes?” no point crafting a reply because they won’t understand, and I don’t care. But I’ll take occasional A&E thanks for asking.

Summary? Riding ragged and fast. It’s going to happen. Could’ve been a whole lot worse – arm, rib or collarbone. I’ll back off not because I want to, but because survival instinct will cut the speed. For a while. Let’s not hope too long. Going to be another week before I find out when the stitches come out.

But roadbikes are going to be fine. Ride to work Friday? I should bloody well think so, if I can attire myself in cycling clothing without excessive chaffing. Bikes you see, like the Hotel California – you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

Not Again.

Enjoying one road ride is probably acceptable, enjoying two is tantamount to MTB treason.  Before my skinny tired bike is behead-tubed*, let me at least present a case for the defence.

Firstly it wasn’t a long ride. The plan for a metric century was curtailed by a lack of time. Further scaling back became necessary once a small mechanical oversight popped up in the first 200 metres.

Not so much popped up, more popped out, with a cranked chain spinning uselessly over  un-indexable cogs. Look with that many little sprockets and associated spacers, anyone could have inadvertently misaligned the two.

It was me of course. And as such, I was deemed unfit to effect a repair which saw Jezz seemingly chase the wheel around the workshop using his biggest hammer. An opportune time perhaps for a quick spanner twirl elsewhere on the innocent frame.

First time out on Mr. Plastic Fantastic in 2011, all a-bling with new wheels (cassette not fitted properly, tyres under-inflated), new saddle (testicle splitting angle due to poor fitment) and new carbon post (unfitted due to it being entirely the wrong size).

Eventually, after some embarrassment and more excuses, the good ship Malvern-Route set sail under fair conditions with little wind and temperatures close to double digits.

Riding the Boardman after Woger Wibble was something of a revelation.  Best described as being gifted a proper cyclist’s set of legs, and an extra lung. Crikey it’s light – at least six pounds under the honest toiler of my winter bike – and *ahem* stiff. Having campaigned the thick end of 600k this winter on Wog sets a telling precedent on what a proper race bike feels like.

Feels fast for a start. Emboldened by climatic conditions, super light bike, dry road and an inability to clip out (new road shoes, new road pedals, stopping and starting involved lampposts and increasingly agitated foot waggling) my pace was both brisk and entirely inappropriate.

The latter I would only discover some two hours later when that “little wind” could be more accurately described as “a bastard headwind seeking to reduce me to a little cry”. Still having a trick bike is a great leveller.

Jezz was riding a oversized Wibble that puts one in mind of a farm gate cleverly accessorised with a wheel at either end. Not only tall, it has sufficient length to factory-fit a claxon and speaking tube for turns: “All Ahead Flank Engine Room” can often be heard bouncing off random Malvern hills.

So my bike is light and fast which is an almost perfect juxtaposition to the rider. Whereas Jezz – an Etape veteran and unapologetic semi-roadie –  can normally rip my little stumps off at will.  At this point, I can share with you that it is entirely about the bike.

For two hours, we jested and jousted up and over hilly terrain. I still lost more than I won but derived some pleasure from the look on Jezz’s fizog a couple of times. One I recognised as “Just give me a minute, once the black spots have faded, we’ll be on our way”.

Somewhere in between such hyper-competitivety, I realised with horror this was really quite enjoyable. Even a jaunt through Malvern traffic didn’t disappoint as my “London Commuter Elbows” have lost nothing in their vigorousness over the last few years.

And then the headwind. With all the climbing done, I was ready for an easy 25k spin home along the valley bottom.  The only match to that idyllic description was the distance. Not flat, slight climb all the way home, arrow straight roads horizon long, and into the teeth of a headwind that sought out my tiring limbs and made them tireder still.

I swallowed a little water, slightly more pride and hid behind Jezz for a while until we mercifully turned the relentless blast into a crosswind.  That couldn’t hide the fact I’d shot my bolt though and – light bike or not – the last few climbs were properly hurty.

Lesson learned? Probably not, ego not generally gapped my ambition. 70k, 890m of climbing, similar average speed to last time out but on a route made far tougher by elevation.  Riding in this morning was a fairly sedate affair, but not for a minute did I consider driving.

Actually I was looking forward to getting back on the (heavy) bike. That’s a worrying development.

* Been reading lots of Tudor history. After considering disease, poverty, hangman’s noose and executioner’s blade, hard to believe the population of England during that time could be more than about 7.

Lights out

There is a time for quiet contemplation, trading  sanguinary* for calm reflection and playing the long game. Apparently. So I’ve been told. Comes with age and wisdom allegedly. Still time then even for humans of such antiquity as me. But not today. Let me take a deep virtual breath and scream:

I AM BORED OF WINTER NOW. SICK OF MUD, DARK AND COLD. I WANT DUST AND SUNSHINE. I’VE BLOODY WELL EARNED IT

Last night I’d have happily settled for just a bit of light. My recent expensive purchase delivered fantastic illumination for ten road pounding minutes, before switching off, shutting down and engaging in a permanent state of electronic sulk. This happens to me far too often during working hours, so my initial diagnosis was the now cooling appliance could only be running a form of Windows software.

Sustained hopeful prodding and poking about** for five more minutes achieved only frustration amidst continued benightment.  As is the way of such disasters, my helmet light was uncharged and the repaired Hope Vision was resting some fifteen miles away.  Luckily a spare was harvested from Jezz’s toolbox, leaving us with the repeat joy of a soggy road climb we’d only recently dispatched.

Good thing about the road tho was its’ wetness merely irritated rather than injured – a flipped condition come a switch to dirt. Tyres properly aslither, bloke on top wobbling about and bracing for bark impact, and any braking was just crashing by another name.

So we were late, partially lighted, muddy and – in the case of my riding buddy – extremely knackered from the bastard work week from hell. Obviously being a good mate, I took full advantage by suggesting ridiculous epics deep into the hills none of which I had any intention of actually riding.  This is entirely opposite to what normally happens, except we end up actually doing them.

My Yang to his Ying was feeling pretty damn good probably as  we weren’t going far nor ‘lung-out-of-the-arse‘ fast. This was an entirely unexpected state of affairs as, less than two days before, I’d not so much fallen off the alcohol-free week wagon as set fire to it – before toasting it with multiple double brandies,.

And it was still a proper laugh fighting tank slappers, transferring mud from trail to face via sliding tyre, then sloshing about in dank puddles. But really, we’ve suffered enough and it is starting to take a toll.

My ST4 has a set of rumbly hub bearings that’ll not survive another month. Already the winter has eaten through a shock bushing, broken that shock, destroyed four pairs of brake pads and turned my not-long-since shiny bike into something rather less showroom.

It’s not done that much for me either. Sure I’ve managed to get/stay reasonably fit. I’ve maintained motivation through the hardest month, and plans are afoot to cash in on the coming Spring. But it doesn’t feel we’re there yet.

Dark commutes stretch out a further six weeks, gawd only knows where I’ll dare venture back into the Forest, even the road bike almost seems like a good idea. I’m not sure I can hang on for much longer!

One thing I do know tho, is if we’d turned back, given up, called it a day as sense/tiredness/mechanical catastrophe strongly suggested we should,  it’d have been a quick win but a long disappointment. Riding is always better than not riding. It’s also a shit load better when the outside environment plays nice.

Got to Keep The Faith for a few more weeks.

* My “word of the week“. Beats f*ck I suppose.

** Pretty much describes most boys sexual awakening.

Mostly Human

Birmingham International airport has one very big thing going for it,  it is not Heathrow. So the experience is marginally less unpleasant, slightly quicker and dispatched under the generally cheery auspices of officiating brummies.

But I don’t want to accentuate the positive here; it’s still fundamentally a dreadful way to travel.  Not only did I map out the ten hour trip to Amsterdam by car, I very nearly grabbed my passport, a wad of tunnel funds and some pro-plus in order to drive there. I’m still not sure it was the right decision to fly.

Of the many horrors awaiting anyone careless enough to be trapped in a major Airport orbit, a prize for the most demeaning, pointless and wasting of time has to be the security checks.  First let’s do pointless – actually let’s not because Bruce Schneier is significantly better informed and qualified that me.

Demeaning? Absolutely. It’s actually kind of interesting to watch a self-referential business person transformed to mumbling apologist on removal of their suited armour. Clothes maketh the man (or – and possibly – more noticeably Women) eh? There’s something in that I think, from all the research thirty minutes of watching it happening to other people.

Also briefcases? Definitely old school business accessory that. I counted more squashy man-bags than plastic Samsonite squares and this is the West Midlands, not some sophisticated metropolis. Because I knew what was coming – although by Christ I didn’t think it could possibly take so long on a Winters’ morning at 6am – my clothing, electrical accoutrements and hand luggage had been carefully chosen.

No laptop for a start. Two days with corporate lifeblood squeezed through the restricted optical arteries of a dumbphone. No suit because the Dutch office is of the opinion that a tie is not terribly important*. No little baggy for my toiletries either. An oversight mocked by the looping videos on how to remove your jacket – I guess to better show any concealed firearms – and the appropriate presentation style for exploding shampoo.

I had plenty of time to dream up a range of excuses ranging from “No shampoo, check out the thatch, can we compromise that toothpaste isn’t a liquid?” to “That man over there, yes him, he stole it, and he was messing about with his shoes as well“. Second one should have distracted the dozy staff enough for me to hurdle the barrier and make a run for it. Possibly ending with being shot by less dopy armed police, but embarrassment saved from having to beg for a ziplock.

The airport used to have two terminals. Now it has one. The upshot is a phalanx of herded passengers pressed into not-so-neat queues all waiting for one working scanner. On remarking at this apparently obvious bottleneck, my reward was a long suffering “well the new machines are slower and we’re not allowed to have any extra staff” followed by what I can only describe as a “trade union snort of derision“.

So we queued and queued in that uniquely British “musn’t grumble” approach to organised stupidity. Except for the expensively suited tribe who tapped Blackberry’s and watches, demanded to be upgraded to first-in-line, before being reduced to sheepishness by scanner wielding busybodies in a strange game of strip poker.**

My turn tut-tutted those behind, once my polite request for a bag was met with a large bellied man demanding to know if “he was a bloody bag salesman” to which one can only respond with “I don’t know, are you? If so, I’m in luck eh?“. Rather than the cavity search such cleverness probably deserved, he cracked a weary smile and fetched something rather less threatening than the rubber gloves I expected.

I made the plane with about 30 seconds to spare. Through the departure gate essentially mooning at the shocked gate staff, with my still unbelted trousers showing a fair slab of builders arse. Honestly in future, I’ll just get my ticket tattoo’d on there.

Next month France beckons. I’m going on the train.

* So easy to bore you all with a diatribe on the laughable conflicts of corporate uniform. But  I shall not. As future employment is important to me.

** If you read this in a certain way, it does sound like an exceedingly hasty form of foreplay.

Consulting the inner cat

Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride.

There are times when riding – as with life generally – that make you think ‘woooah that was a close one‘.  Events that invoke the thought  that one just dodged a bullet, sailed a little close to the wind, felt the icy shiver of impending dread, that kind of thing.  Generally followed up by a commitment not to do it again, or at least not for a while until the balance of karma is restored.

To paraphrase: “got lucky once, probably won’t next time” deep breath, nod to deity/pagan god of choice, move on. Today I had a ride just like that except for the moving on bit. If I were a cat, I’d be desperately scanning the small print for options to buy extra lives.

Riding with Martin always goes like this. Afternoons out are short on miles, long on smiles and celebrated for going heavy on  “shiiiiiit, eek, arrrghh, phew, never-in-doubt” moments.  And because of riding lots, I’ve lately been overcome with a high dose of smug.

Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride. Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride.

Enough in the legs to climb anything – albeit still quite slowly – and enough pedalled in muscle memory to let the bike go fast and be fantastic while I hang on up top. Not asleep at the bars tho, because this kind of riding guarantees serial hits on the adrenal gland.

First a top to bottom trail starting wide and windy, dropping into narrowing singletrack that throws out wheel stopping rocks and increased gradients before you can say “I wonder if I should have braked back there?”. A cheeky left throws up more steepness, a set of “qualifying” steps punching you straight into a second set easily identified by being sodding narrow, buttressed by shoulder high rock and long enough for major internal organs to switch locations.

Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride. Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride.

Wet as well today as were all the trails. Best to look vaguely in the direction of proposed travel, loosen your muscles and your mind and go with the flow. I did, Martin didn’t leading to a bit of light ribbing especially as he’d brought his big bike to the rock party.

Multiple goes on a lovely steppy drop proved insufficient for Martin to understand how my camera worked.   Never mind, big climb to height, fall off the side of another hill where I arrested a monster back-brake slide with a flick of the hips before my smugness was replaced by confusion as Martin snaked down the trail at a speed and smoothness entirely missing from the bloke behind.

No matter, one big climb to gurn, one favourite descent to dispatch. Lately I’ve been having a splendid time down here thinking that maybe – of all the riding crew – now I am the quickest. Chagrin served up with a double can of whupass for me then, as Martin careered off at a truly remarkable speed.  Somewhere on the way down – between remembering to breathe and trying so hard not to crash – it became apparent that the only way of catching him would be to fly past at head height having been spat off at high speed.

Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride. Malvern "Ooh I say" Ride.

Consulting my inner cat, I found a large flashing zero in the “remaining lives” column, and a terrified kitten hiding behind it. Did my best tho, still got whupped. But it’s not just bravado, or the not unreasonable joy of arriving alive at the bottom that makes us do this.

I cannot tell you how much fun riding fast, jumping off steps, bouncing off rocks or holding a two wheeled slide can be. I just know I want to go back and do it all again.

Off the Pace

Pace 405 XCAM (1 of 7)

A very nice man from Chepstow left happy-faced with most of the Pace yesterday. He has many adventures planned so, even if this enthusiasm wanes,  is sure to ride it more than I ever did. That would be a total of four times in 2010,  none of which gave me much pleasure.

Which explains why I am spared the standard remorse and hand wringing when selling anything two wheeled. Because I certainly didn’t do it for the money. As the old joke goes how do you make £2,000 buying and selling 2nd hand mountain bikes? Start with £5,000.

Scotland 2008 MTB (74 of 99) Scotland 2008 MTB (48 of 99)

The Pace was a damn fine bike. This excellent suspension platform, allied to a frame long on stiffness and short on pointless faffery, was the product of extensive rider-led development. The problem is that while it will be a great bike for someone else, it just wasn’t for me. Too tall, too short, too much travel, a little too heavy, a lot too much bike for 95% of my riding.

I persevered because, on trips to the districts of Peak and Lake, it proved its’ metal on rocky terrain. Mostly unperturbed by chaotic gardens of granite, it would carry a committed pilot downhill at silly speeds while still being engaging enough through sinewy singletrack.  Further it was almost entirely unfazed when being thrown down the Cwmcarn DH course by a man whose riding style could best be described as “hanging on gamely“.

Cwmcarn Uplift Day Pace 405 DH

So largely viceless,  heavily competent, nicely built, and sufficiently dynamic to span most genres from messing about in the woods to day long epics in the hills. And without wishing to head up my own arse in pointless analysis, maybe that strikes at the heart of the issue. The Ti Cove hardtail is more fun in woody singletrack, the ST4 is as brilliantly flexible and yet somehow more focussed, and – if the urge to be silly overcomes me once again – I’d have no qualms trailering the little DMR on an uplift day.

Scotland 2008 MTB (64 of 99) Scotland 2008 MTB (66 of 99)

So with these three frisky concubines in the sheddy harem – each alloyed with unique gifts – the Pace has become something of a dusty embarrassment.  It was a bike I wanted very much from the first release pictures, so it’s more than a little disappointing that style, terrain and greener biking grass had left it being nothing more than an expensive wall ornament.

Scotland 2008 MTB (23 of 99) Scotland 2008 MTB (48 of 99)

I am sure that my next trip to rocky places will have me cursing the decision to turn a quick buck. But that will to be mitigated by the genuine pleasure of someone else having a weekly blast. Something I will follow up on first hand having vaguely arranged a meet sometime in the Spring.

It’ll be strange to see someone else riding what still feels like my bike. But – at least this time – I don’t think I’ll be asking for it back.