Sunday, 5 April 2020

Weekly review

sheep

The weekend of week two and I am adjusting to being at home.

Marcia has been attending the facebook sessions run by the Ryan MS therapy centre she would normally visit once a week. It's a brilliant addition to our day, it gives us some structure. We get up, have breakfast, Marcia does her physio, we have lunch, then I go cycling.

In other news: I'm riding about twenty miles a day, mostly on the road bike. The upgraded wheels and brakes are a big improvement, but the saddle is another story. I think the problem is that the side sections slope down too quickly and the centre section hasn't got much of a dip. It puts pressure on the wrong parts!!

Fizik Arione K:IUM Snake Versus
239g instead of 400g
The new saddle, after one ride, is a big improvement. There is less padding, but it is still much more comfortable. It also saves a little weight, there I go again; sounding a bit serious.

bike bag under seat

I have a new cycle bag, it attaches under the saddle. It's fiddly to fit, and slightly smaller than the previous one. With camera packed inside, the spare inner tube has a new home; can you spot it? My pedaling isn't impeded, and no more sweaty back.

Saturday with the new saddle.

Fizik Arione K:IUM Snake Versus first ride

The Sunday ride included a couple of firsts: a new route, almost completely off road, and facetime chat between Matt and I. The mountain bike had an outing, I had a rough idea for a route. A little off road section led to a path I hadn't noticed before. Nothing extreme, I don't want to risk a fall. It was really good to get away from the deteriorating quality of driving on the roads. While taking the second picture Matt called, we had managed to synchronise our rides. He was drinking tea at the church yard. The video chat meant I could show him the view. I guess we could try to do the same again, a distance of around ten miles made our meetup safe and within the rules.

muddy tunnel entrance
Trust me to find a bit of mud. It was deeper than I anticipated.
avenue of trees bridleway
Bridleway
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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Twenty is plenty

twenty is plenty

Another lunch time ride, and the number of cyclists is increasing. There are less motor vehicles, but still more than I expected. And the behaviour of some has gotten worse. I am still subject to close passes and tailgating.

Some of the new riders may not have ridden for a while, they ventured onto the roads out of necessity or because of extra free time. If they are to continue to do so, the roads have to be made safer. Many surveys say it's the danger that puts a lot of people off riding.

There are many reports of excessive speed on the now quieter roads, and calls for lower limits. The Isle of Man has instigated a 40 mph maximum. And this is a place where some roads have no restrictions.

Authorities want electric scooters restricted, but won't do the same for devices that inflict huge damage to anything they hit.

The AA are against placing any more legislation upon motorists . The AA president said speed limiters are not a good idea, his reason: a driver will just drive as fast as the restricted car will allow, even when that's not appropriate. I'd much rather a driver is restricted to twenty as they pass a school than be able to drive at any speed they want. As has been proved time after time most drivers will not lower their speed.

Many drivers even believe bikes shouldn't be allowed on roads, but object to the building of cycle paths.

Jeremy Clarkson has said public transport is only used by people who can't afford a car, he wants less space for them. He still doesn't realise the congestion he complains about is caused by too many cars. He talks about removing cycle paths; his reasoning, they restrict cars and therefore block emergency vehicles. It's the cars that do that, if more people cycled, walked, or took public transport - many journeys of under a mile are driven - the emergency vehicles he now campaigns for would have less to impede them. Public transport would be more reliable. I know a lot of what he says is for publicity, but the people who listen will be nodding their heads at his words.

He is just one example of the media message; repeatedly reporting on miscreant cyclists but rarely qualifying this with how many die in crashes caused by the drivers of motor vehicles. They make biased programs, and print poorly researched articles.

Cities around the world have created temporary bike lanes as they have restricted public transport and asked people not to drive. They have even closed roads to drivers. What has London done? Suspended the congestion charge scheme. Their reason is to allow critical workers to drive to work. They could easily have made an exception for the number plates of these workers. Ensuring the roads were kept as clear as possible.

There is no clear message in the UK promoting alternatives to cars; until there is, a lot of people will be put off using them.

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Monday, 30 March 2020

No tea


mountain bike leant against a fallen tree

Regular readers will know Matt and I ride together through Surrey and Kent. We stop for tea at one of many favoured locations. We put the world to rights and have a laugh about stuff. But not now.

We both still go for rides, but for the foreseeable future our tea breaks are against the law; I never thought I'd ever say that?

In Ireland they now have extra restrictions on travel, even for exercise. You have to stay within two kilometres of your home. If the UK does this it's going to make it harder to keep motivated, and burn the calories. I'm finding it difficult not snack continually.

Yesterday's horrendous weather kept me in-doors, only venturing out for the weekly shop.

I really want to ride everyday, I fear it will be very easy to get into the habit of saying I'll go tomorrow, and not going.

I had a dip in enthusiasm today, but now I'm back it was worth the effort. On the return part of the loop I saw a path leading off into the woods. I had an idea where it might lead to, but quickly realised I was lost.

I eventually found a road, and headed for home.

bike leaning against a gate, horse looking at me

I think the horse has probably seen a few more people than is usual pass it's field lately. I hope it wasn't expecting a treat, I didn't have anything on me.

It was also the trial of a new bag, I wanted to get away from a backpack. Wearing one results in a sweaty back. While I could fit everything in that I needed, I won't be using it again. My knees rub against it, and standing on the pedals is almost impossible. I hoped it was just the compact nature of the Kona frame, my Giant road bike is even worse.

top tube bag

So it's a return to a damp patch on my back until I can find another solution.

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Saturday, 28 March 2020

Day 5

giant defy daffodils

I think everyone has written something like this, so here is my contribution to the bandwagon.

The weather has been good, I have been exploring as well as visiting usual haunts. At first it was okay, riding at my own pace and picking the route as I went along. Riding for more than three days in a row is rare, I'm up to five now. There is a vague limit on the distance I can go; I'm allowed out once a day for exercise. Most advice is stay local, it seems this is mostly to stop people driving to distant parks and beauty spots. I can see the point of this restriction, I'm surprised how many cars I see during my rides. But what does that mean for me; how far can I go? There is a concern about a bike failure; how would I get home? A ride at any time has the potential to leave me stranded, I can't phone home for a lift. But at least if it was too far to realistically walk I could take public transport, not an option at the moment. So no rides to the coast for the foreseeable future, which does leave a problem. I had only been doing this for four days on my own, and my motivation was waning. Today being Saturday normally means I meet Matt, and have a chat over tea. But that's out of the question.

I see more cyclists on each ride, which is encouraging. If driving is their normal form a transport, hopefully they'll have a new appreciation for what it's like to ride a bike. And give us more room.

I am determined to get out every day, and take a picture. But all of the normal places are well documented, and going much further afield is risky. I'll have to get creative and keep my eyes peeled for a great vista.

I don't know how long this situation is going to last, I am already pacing the house enough to annoy the wife.

In other news; I have cut my own hair. I wonder if I'll need to do it again before the barbers reopens. It doesn't look too bad, the back is a challenge to get straight. A thumbs up from Marcia is a good sign. Although who else is going to see it; everyone at Tesco keeps their distance.

I'll also have to put my thinking cap on for post titles, I'm not sure how long I can stay with day {insert number}.

Stay safe.

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Friday, 27 March 2020

All these unhelpful sayings. Stiff upper lip, pull yourself together


Reigate view

As I near the end the first week of this extraordinary time, I have a period to reflect.

Thanks in not small part to Moof IT, my employer. Read this for background.

I now realise that my way of dealing with problems - internalising everything - wasn't a long term proposition. My mantra was: Stiff upper lip, pull yourself together.

I do regret it took such a long time to work this out.

Opening up to your employer isn't easy, mine has been very good to me.

My Moof IT colleagues will have had to take the strain this week, I thank them for that. I hope I haven't added to their troubles.

Talking to family is just as hard, you don't want to add to their worries. I did, and it helped immeasurably.

Friends, I'm lucky to have such good ones.

This week I have taken a step forward because I have been given space and time.

I thought after a day all was good, but it really wasn't. Being told to take a longer break was right.

I'm much calmer, I have a better perspective.

When I returned from a circuit to tatsfield I was told I'm to be put on the government furlough scheme, it's better than the alternative. And while the weather stays good, more cycling.

I have taken many pictures here, I'll have to get to different places. Although I'm not sure if the exercise law allows me to go far.

tatsfield Surrey hills


reigate fort
Reigate fort
Thursday I rode to Reigate fort, a short ride but it had some very steep hills. Not much is visible; the gates are the main recognisable structure. There is one building at the center, the other parts are dug in to the earthworks that appeared to have formed the walls. It was built in 1898 in response to a potential invasion.

This could be a metaphor, I have finally opened the gates to fort Andy.

knockholt bench
Knockholt bench
Wednesday was my longest ride, to Knockholt. I passed many other cyclists, some may not have ridden much recently. On one particularly difficult climb I passed a struggling rider. I keep my distance but offered words of encouragement. As he passed me at the top, where I had stopped to congratulate him, he thanked me. He said he would have completed accent on foot if I hadn't been there.

caterham view
Caterham view
Caterham view, where the week started. And when a new realisation began.

These are troubling times, isolation is the way to stop the virus but it doesn't lead to good mental health.

I hope that family and friends can also talk to me about their worries and concerns.

Talking isn't always about asking for help. It can be just as effective to have someone listen.

A positive then to end the week.

Thanks for being there.

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