Sunday, 28 November 2021

Chilly walk

goalposts sunrise november

A very cold Sunday morning in November with errands to complete meant no cycling. I did have time for a short walk. I hadn't anticipated how very different the temperature was going to be compared to Saturday. It was freezing, I didn't stay out for long; the cold soon getting to my hands and feet.

The first picture I took, the one above, seemed to convey how outside space is abandoned at this time of year. It'll be a very months before this pitch will see any use.

bench

This bench will likely remain unused for longer. The few dog walkers I saw didn't look keen to hang around.

icy puddle.

I didn't see frosty grass, or much ice covered puddles. Just a few patches in sheltered areas. This was a surprise, the night had definitely been the coldest so far.

There were still patches of green amongst the yellows, golds and reds of autumn.

green fern amongst autumn colours

The golden hour as the sun follows it's low trajectory across the sky only appears to add warmth. This was the last picture I took before packing up and heading home for a hot drink.

golden hour sunrise

I must try to get out more with my camera next year.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

2022 challenge update

 

Solstice route 2022

Back in July I mentioned my plans for another ride on the longest day next year to raise money for the mental health charity Mind. Here is the link.

There have been some developments.

I've booked the time off work.

Decided I'd ride back rather than get the train. It seemed too much stress could be involved, and it isn't much cheaper than two nights in B&B's.

Booked accommodation for two nights.
 
Sponsorship page created. See just below main site picture.

Let me explain why I'm not returning by train; I mentioned it might be stressful. I couldn't guarantee a carriage for the bike and even if there was one; the design is not well thought out. It could cause damage, or be full. They are built with the expectation to hold more bikes than actually fit in the space. At least that's what I've read.

I wanted to have time to appreciate the countryside as I rode. The outward journey would just be focused on getting to the end. 
 
After a couple of days with my sister I'm taking three days to return.
 
to colyton
Return day one
 
At first I considered staying at two locations from a hotel chain. I thought it would be cost effective, and easy. Lenny Henry may like them, but they were more expensive than I anticipated. They mention arriving by bike on the website. I could store it in my room, unless it was dirty. I'd be responsible for getting it clean if that was the case. I wasn't sure how I'd achieve that at the end of the ride. So looked for owner run B&B's, and I'm pleased I did. Friday night will be in a small village called Colyton. I asked about secure bike storage. No problem was the quick reply from both places. 
 
Colyton to Salisbury
Return day two

Saturday night will be in Salisbury.
 
Salisbury to home
Return day three
 
I'm really looking forward to this. The challenge of the first day, seeing my sister, and exploring the countryside on the way home.

I might meet up with a fellow bike adventurer, if we can organise a place and time. He writes a cycling blog that I read. He lives in Devon and leads bikepacking trips, produces route guides, sells t-shirts that he designs and I'm sure much more. Here is the blog.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Into the light

into the light sunrise

This year has seen many changes for me. I've written about some of them: challenging myself to ride more. Opening up about my depression, becoming vegan. 

I've become more passionate about safer cycling, the environment and cutting pollution, advocating for less driving and air travel. 

Talking to Matt one Sunday in November caused me to realise there are others. 

My attitude to cars and motorbikes has changed, the subject Matt mentioned. He would say "once you are in the car, it's just a steering wheel and a dashboard". I'd reply with, "it's more than that"; not any more. I see a big, noisey car or motorbike and think, what's the point of that? A smaller engine will be better. Who needs so much extra capability and cost? They are driven faster and more aggressively, killing around 1800 people every year in the UK. I was queuing and the driver in front of me couldn't wait for the other drivers to move, so she drove onto the pavement, despite there being people walking along it. They had to get out of her way.  There is little deterrent to law breaking, e-scooters have speed limiters. Why not motor vehicles?

Seeing things differently felt like having blinkers or a filter created by the media and successive governments had been removed. I was in the light.
 
I see people spending when they don't have to, or more than they need.
A case in point are wood burners, everyone seems to want one. Why? Most have central heating, burning wood increases pollution. We should be looking at alternatives to gas and oil powered systems, not going back to worse setups.

There is a push from manufacturers to sell SUV's; very few people need them. They are heavy, and are more dangerous to other road users.

Phone providers want you to upgrade every year. This creates so much waste.

In fact the whole tech industry is built on replacing everything as often as possible. The television I have is great; will I really notice any improvement if I go to ultra definition as Sky and Samsung etc tell me I should? And does it need to be bigger? 

The mines, almost all located in central Africa, exploit children or pay for devastating wars to provide the raw materials for the tech you take for granted. And throw away when the next version is released.
 
Matt had to service his bike recently, and winced at the bill. He is riding more than he use to, so parts will wear out faster. But he thought for a moment about buying a new bike instead. Various mechanics have given the same advice in the past. It's incredible that this seems to be the standard thought process. Write off the whole bike because the chain, some sprockets and bearings need repairing. They are service items after all.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Growing concrete

Grow concrete
 

This week a radio station reached a new low. Have a look at the interview. It got worse, they went on to defend themselves. I couldn't find the interviews other than on twitter, unfortunately that means more views for their stream. But you do get to see the replies.

The media is letting us down.

It started with telling people shops had bare shelves which led to everyone buying as much toilet paper as they could; creating shortages that likely weren't as wide spread as it seemed.

We've had sporadic reports about various items many times since; recently it was fuel. This caused chaos for over a week, the situation was much worse than it would have been had everyone not been told to panic.

My main focus is usually how active travel; cycling, walking and safer streets is reported and it's influence on the public. But over the last two years I have dispaired at what they have done.

They amplify monority opposition to any scheme that doesn't prioritise motor transport. Worse is the proliferation of anti cycling/active travel articles. Or what could be seen as anti motor transport protests. See link. No climate emergency? Worse was his justification of driving into protestors. The way this was reported buy other media outlets seemed to support him. Are we saying protests can only be about subjects the media support, and must not cause any disruption if not?

Then there is advertising, I've noticed an increase for cars; especially SUV's. Cars are getting bigger, and the biggest are gaining a larger share of new car sales. It doesn't make them much better if they are electic or hybrid, we need less cars and the ones that are needed have to be smaller. The move to electric will add to the problem of blocked pavements. My wife and I can't walk around our local streets; her wheelchair is too wide for the small amount of space left for us. We would have to walk in the road. Trailing cables to charge cars will increase the barriers we face.

The ads always show empty city streets or people driving in the countryside. Both are not reaslistic, they don't show the reality of endless queues, aggresive and dangerous driving, and the hopelessness of building more roads and packing to accommodate them.

Investment in active travel and public transport is where the money should go. It shouldn't be cheaper to drive or fly. Other countries are doing better, France for instance. Paris has built much more infrastructure for safer cycling. It has banned domestic flights where a train service exists; what did the UK do? Cut the aviation tax on domestic flights, making train travel even more expensive in comparison. And extended the freeze on fuel duty rises. The eleven years this has happened could have provided £50bn to pay for schools, the NHS and many other struggling areas.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Me time

gone cycling

I had a couple of days off work this week, and instead of going for long rides I decided on a change of pace.

Don't get me wrong; I acknowledge when I'm on my bike it's me time. But lately I worry about overdoing it, or relying on it too much.

As luck would have it I was contacted about a photography project that would need a meeting to discuss. This was arranged for Thursday morning in London, I got home with only time for short ride. The evening was spent watching television with Marcia. Not having to keep an eye on clock was great.

Friday was wet in the morning, so after going shopping I went back to bed for a while. When I woke the sun was out, so another short ride was completed. Followed by a relaxed evening.

It was all change and the same on Saturday; I went out despite heavy rain with my club. There was only five others who braved the weather. One wanted a T2 pace so he headed off on a short ride to a cafe. That left me in a group of five T3's up for an adventure. It alternated between heavy rain and light showers. Another challenge to overcome.

I only felt cold when we stopped to attempt a bike repair. Austin hit a pothole hidden by a big puddle. 

pothole broken spoke repair

We weren't able to fix it so cut the ride a little short. The spoke had broken away from the hub, so the wheel was not straight. He made it back at a reduced pace.

About five miles from home the sun came out. It would have been nice if it had been a few hours earlier, but we now have a great shared experience.

Sunday morning the rain was lashing down onto the kitchen roof, I messaged Matt suggesting we meet later. His reply meant I thought I'd be on my own for the afternoon ride. But another text as the weather improved resulted in a ride to Westerham and a chat over coffee. Happy days.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Planning future memories

I found a video on youtube about depression. And why it mught be on the increase.

Here is a link to it. Watch it and come back to this page.

It got me thinking.

I have family and friends, I have a support network, I have a great employer. They all contribute to an environment that very much includes me.

But; I still feel lonely. I still feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. The responsibilty of looking out for others.

It's not new, I've been like this for a very long time, much longer than I realised.

It's not all of the time, there are periods when I feel great.

Other times it feels like I have too much to do.

I have always had a feeling of not quiet belonging, those around me would have had no idea. Why would they? I was part of their group, and they were inclusive.

The last two years have allowed this thoughts to grow, become more prominent. I have gotten better at dealing with it though.

But it doesn't stop those dark days: when I back away from social situations, convince myself it's just me and listen to the voice that says no-one would understand.

I can't blame social media for it all, I don't use it to replace relationships. If anything it helps me keep connected with people. But it doesn't build shared experiences, memories that can be relived.

They are what really count. Talking about old times is when I know I'm in a good place, surrounded by good people. Planning future memories with those groups lifts me. 

It's what social media can't do, for me at least. And maybe for most people. It doesn't fulfil a need. It gives the illusion of sharing and building memories, that can feel inclusive. But ultimately they have happened without a wider group participation. You're just seeing a snapshot through another's eyes.

You can't beat face-to-face experiences. Going into winter this will happen less often, I cope until the warm spring and summer days return.

If you're reading this and thinking; what can I do? Just continue to be supportive as you have always been. This is very much a window on what is sometimes going on inside my head.

Thanks everyone, looking forward to creating memories.