Saturday, 10 April 2021

Cycling; the magic bullet

Hever Castle April 2021

At the risk of being that cycling evangelist you try to avoid, more people need to ride bikes or walk more often.

There are so many benefits, personal, social and environmental.

I've mentioned the personal benefits on this blog; the social advantages are many. More cycling and walking reduces crime, boosts the local economy - helping to keep shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs open, and builds community. It encourages more activity, we have been told for a year to protect the NHS. We can do this if we all get fitter, obesity causes or contributes to many diseases and debilitating conditions that cost billions to treat. And less motor vehicles will mean less collisions, cutting casualties and deaths - 157,630 and 1752 respectively in 2019. 

These problems won't go away with electric power, brake and tyre dust will still be a problem and is harmful, battery production is polluting. It is likely to result in people driving even shorter distances, pavements will still be blocked by parking with cables adding to the problem. In London 30% of driven journeys are of less than three miles, in 2019 there were 3.9 billion more miles driven than in 2009. Battery powered vehicles are bigger and heavier, meaning more wear on the roads and less space for other road users. They'll need charging points, government and local authorities seem enthusiastic for the taxpayer to fund them; petrol stations weren't built this way. 

The taxpayer funds a huge road building program, yet travel times continue to increase. As the saying goes - The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

We need less congestion, those that need to drive will be able to do so more easily. 

I had the week off and really went for it, riding over 260 miles.

coffee at westerham

I had a few rides with Oxted Cycling Club, and met Matt in Westerham. Cafes a still only take-away so if we stop, it's not for long, and we all have to stand well apart.

ashdown forest

My cycling sat nav directed me to Hever Castle on Tuesday and Ashdown Forest on Thursday. Still a little too chilly to pause for long.

I even did a 3.8 mile run on Friday. My cycling muscles did not appreciate being asked to do this. A triathlon is not on the cards.

Friday, 2 April 2021



Fulking natural spring

Spring sprung last weekend, and the clocks went forward an hour. I set out on a road ride, the first since the 19th. Most of the outward route was into a headwind, I would be returnig on the same roads, and looked forward to a tailwind. Why then did I have to force my way home into a headwind? It's one of cycling's mysteries.

My chosen destination was Fulking, yes you read that correctly. I can't deny it was the name that brought me to the village, it was also just over 60 miles there and back. The distance I find just about right; long enough to be a challenge, without taking all day. 

The collection of houses, one pub and a church are in a valley, a spring was the original reason for the village being established.

bike fulking spring

Upon arrival I looked for a shop or cafe to buy food and a coffee. The pub was closed and that was it.

country lane bicycle

The journey to the village was mostly on main roads, they weren't very busy but it was a relief to turn into a quiet lane for the last few miles.

Sunday: Matt and I usually meet to sit at opposite ends of a bench for a chat over a cup of tea.

coffee tatsfield

As you can see, Matt and the tea were missing. A clocks changing miscalculation meant Matt was somewhat out of sync with the rest of the country. I arrived to a text saying he would be very late. It was chilly and I had a busy day ahead so I replied that unfortunately I couldn't wait. I sat alone with my coffee and waffle, bought from the little shop near the green. Then took off for home.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Salvation, medication, escapism

Cycling; what does it mean to me?

Regular readers may already know most of the answer, or maybe all of it. I have written much about cycling. Where I go, what I wear and ride.

For the past week I have been on the indoor bike, I had a close encounter with a couple of deer. I'm okay now, no need to worry. I had to buy a new helmet and jacket which meant a delay until I could return to the road.

It got me thinking again about my reasons for turning those pedals.

It's not about where I go, or what I ride; it's the three words in the title of this post. I get all of them as I travel nowhere in the garage, just as much as when the view is constantly changing. Outside is easier to get motivated for.

I'm lucky, I don't have to travel anywhere by bike; the shops I need are at most a forty-five minute round trip away on foot. I work from home, so no commute.

I choose to ride, solo at present, it will be good to be with others again. We can meet and sit at a distance, but it's not the same as chatting over coffee and cake in a cafe.

Another short post this week. I tend to write about a specific subject matter lately. The random musings will I guess return when the general happenings start again. Like group rides with Oxted Cycling Club and of course the much anticipated Moof IT Cycling Club get togethers. Moof IT CC has three members, and even club jerseys.

Moof IT club jersey                     
 It should be noted, we don't look as athletic as the design drawing might have you believe.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Looking for a purpose, or mid life crisis?

What is my purpose?

I'm really struggling with motivation and part of the problem may be that I feel directionless. Is being useful the same as having a purpose, or is it more complicated than that?

What are my goals? To continue working, and do as much for my wife as I can. Are they goals?

I need a purpose or goal that isn't usefulness.

I think maybe what I'm describing is a mid life crisis, normally resulting in a sports car and wearing clothes more suited to someone younger.

My wardrobe hasn't changed and I definitely won't be buying a sports car.

I have been contemplating a lighter, faster bike. I doubt I'll go for it though. The bike I have delivers what I need. Saving a kilogram or so isn't going to improve that very much. It's gradually been upgraded to address shortcomings to the point where a replacement would have to be expensive to make a meaningful difference.

Maybe I'll emulate Ian Walker or Emily Chappell with some ultra endurance cycling.

Could I motivate others to improve their mental and physical health? I hope I am doing that in some way with my blog. 
Maybe I do have a worthy purpose or goal.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

In the moment

view from the saddle

As we sat at opposite ends of the bench last weekend Matt and I pondered how we cope with stress and anxiety.

We talked about meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and cycling. 

I have attended mindfulness classes, they advocate a kind of meditation. Yoga isn't something I've given much thought to. Which leaves cycling.

Supporters and teachers of meditation, yoga and mindfulness say riding would just be a distraction, not a solution. I'm not saying they are wrong, just that I know what works for us.

On rides we stop thinking about problems and worries, and just focus on our immediate sorroundings. Things like what's happening the the fields, the changing seasons. The sights and sounds of our environment. Even day dream about adventures we could have.

We are not so absorbed to be unsafe; it's as if there is only room in our heads for being in the moment and the practicalities of traveling by bike.

It's too easy to stress about what the future might hold, or problems in the past. You can then miss what's accually happening now.

I try to continue the appreciation of the here and now between rides.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

In search of spring


daffodils church newdigate

This weeks post is about the month of March, a herald of spring. The picture above was taken yesterday as  I cycled through Newdigate. It was more chilly than last weekend. Which got me thinking about how varied our weather can be. 

I had a scroll through previous years. March has been warmer, and much colder.

snow 2018

earlier this week
earlier this week

daffodils 2017

just a light frost in 2016
just a light frost in 2016

blue skies 2019
blue skies 2019

shorts in 2019
shorts in 2019, not a flattering angle.

very warm in 2020
very warm in 2020