Sunday, June 28, 2009

Talkin' Barbecue Cyclin' Blues

Well, Summer is finally here and I am hot and sweaty. Not that there is anything wrong with being hot as I am a bit of a thermophile and like nothing better than sitting in a really hot sauna or steam room and having a really good sweat - particularly after a busy day at work. However, before affording myself this luxury, I normally – unless I am feeling totally knackered – go and have a workout in the gym.

Now where is all this going? The answer is that I haven't the foggiest idea, I just feel I should sit down and write SOMETHING – ANYTHING. Well, almost because you have to be careful what you write these days. Publishing the wrong thing could lose you your job, or your friends, or even your life, so it is a sherioush business this writing lark.

So, apart from the fact that its been a hot day and I have had a barbecue in the garden (where else??), the reason for my hotty sweatiness is that my dear wife suggested after we had stuffed ourselves to submission and the guests had gone, that we should finish the day's activities by going for a bike ride. I an talking about pedal cycling, of course, as although my wife and I have a deep love of big powerful motorbikes, neither of us own one or can actually ride one! I guess you would call us armchair bikers, if such a pursuit exists. I suppose we must be very safe bikers as we are not likely to have any accidents.

Anyway, we set out up the road on our bikes. Now I don't know why this is, but I have had many bikes in my life, and each one seems to have had some annoying irritation. The last one had a pedal which kept working its way loose. This meant that I could only cycle a couple of miles at a time before having to stop, dismount and tighten the pedal before proceeding. I tried all sorts to cure the problem, but to no avail. Finally, in December 2007 my wife and I decided to treat ourselves for Christmas and went to Halfords and bought ourselves a couple of “Shockwave” all singing, all dancing, front and back suspension, disc brakes and 21 gears (unlike the “Sturmey -Archer 3 gear jobber I had as a kid). The bikes look very impressive and weigh a ton. The upside of this is that when you are under way, you are aided by a lot of kinetic energy. Anyway, despite getting a new bike, it still has one annoying feature is it clicks on every turn of the pedal. Don't know why, and the operation of the bike is faultless in every other way, except for the annoying “click”. I keep telling myself to take it back to Halfords to get it sorted, but as it is not exactly high on my Richter Scale of priorities, it remains in the garage.

Now, I am a bit of a rebel when it comes to cycling. For one thing, I don't wear a helmet. My wife does and this is good. I just can't bring myself to wear one. It probably goes back to my childhood and teenage years when I seemed to spend every waking moment outside of school on my bike with my mates. We used to cycle everywhere, main road, minor roads, dirt tracks, uphill and down dale. I had lots of tumbles and falls from my bike. One day as we were tearing at high speed down a hill in Hadley Wood, some kid suddenly stepped out from the trees and walked directly into my path. I shoved the brakes on violently, swerving at the same time in an effort to avoid hitting him. I didn't hit him, but did find myself flying over the handle bars at great speed, catching my scrotum on the brake lever as I went over (ouch) and finishing up as a crumpled heap of pain at the side of the road. I never hit my head, but my goollies were somewhat sore for sometime afterwards. In those days, cycle helmets didn't exist. I do not know of anyone who has hit or hurt their head as a result of falling off a push-bike. No doubt, others who read this will think me stupid and irresponsible, but sorry, that's the way it is with me on this matter. Also, the design of cycle helmets are not exactly the height of fashion. The helmet I wore for free fall parachuting – now that was a proper helmet! Unfortunately it would have been overkill on a push-bike, but would not have looked out of place on a motorbike or on a circus performer about to be fired out of a circus cannon. I never actually saw anyone wearing a helmet until one of the female characters in an episode of the soap “Neighbours” donned one. This seemed a bit of an oddity at the time, as I had never seen one before. This was in the 1980's. The next thing I knew was, they were everywhere, although they had never, it would seem, have been necessary previously. Anyway, I don't wear one, so that's that – until some nanny-state government changes the law of course, and no doubt that day is not far off.

The second area of cycling where I am a bit of a rebel is that I prefer to ride on the road rather than on the cycleways which have been springing up all over town over the past few years. The reason for my rebellion is because the cycleways are crap, and if I am going to fall off the bike, it is more likely to be on one of these silly cycleways than on the road. They are too narrow, uneven, and hazardous beyond belief. If you want to see what a real cycleway system should be like, look around Stevenage, because they are the real deal. What we have in my home town is a half cocked, half hearted, badly thought out and cheap solution to a perceived problem. I have come closer to disaster riding one of these so called cycleways than I have ever done on the highways of the realm, so until the tight fisted authorities take the bull by the horns, bite the bullet, do the right thing, I shall continue to use Her Majesty's highways far more than these sorry excuses for cycleways.

Well, I enjoyed my cycle ride today, and so did my wife. I enjoyed it despite the annoying “click” on every turn of the pedals, and my wife's squeaking brakes (which I cured during the ride). I enjoyed it with the air blowing freely through my unhelmeted hair along the smooth highways and not the poxy cycleways. I am starting to feel hungry again. Time to raid the kitchen.

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