NATURE’S HELPING HAND.
When I head up to my local trailhead there’s a hill that hits me, right off the bat. Bam.
5 minutes of grinding with ice-cold legs and knees.
And right there, adding eco-insult to injury, giving me a rude welcome to the mountains by flipping the bird, is this cactus.
“You’re not wanted here. Think you can handle these mountains? Here’s what I think about that.”
Cacti can be such dicks.
I CAN’T HELP MYSELF
So which is it?
“Please, help yourself to a delicious pastry left here in the work lunch room for the taking. After your long morning ride, you’ve earned it.”
“Please, help yourself from undoing your nice, morning ride by stuffing a sugary, fatty pastry in your head. Help yourself from giving into the temptation, just because it’s free.”
How I read it depends on how close to race day I am.
I had a croissant.
MEMORY LANE PASSES RIGHT THROUGH CAERPHILLY.
My latest ride was a simple out-and-back affair:
Out, all the way to my past, then back.
You see, my latest work trip to Helsinki allowed a weekend intermission to Wales for a family birthday (Happy 18th, H) and, thankfully, a ride this morning.
This trip’s borrowed bike, plus borrowed shoes, shorts, bottle and helmet was thankfully donated by my policeman brother-in-law. He had two options for me: his new road bike or his Smith & Wesson Police Issue Mountain Bike. Yep, that Smith & Wesson. Besides sidearms, they also make these. I plumped for the road bike and all his kit and headed off this morning, a little thick headed after last night’s frivolities.
To some degree the ride started last night, when attending THE party, with lots of family and a gaggle of old friends from a “previous life.” The conversation went like this:
OLD FRIEND: Why are you not going to church tomorrow morning?
ME: Because I am going for long a ride up into the hills.
OLD FRIEND: Oh!?
ME: More wine?
It was unbelievably not raining. With a beautifully clear and crisp morning, I headed from my parents house on a ride that stirred many memories. I could go on and on about coming across places I’d forgotten, places where I used to ride, climb trees and find gaps in the hedges where I’d connect trails together on my first mountain bike. Where I also and happily fell in love and went for long walks in the rain with my now lovely wife. But that would bore you. And memories this rich were best enjoyed alone on this morning on a borrowed bike. As I said, it was a stunning morning, I’ve attached a link to the ride here, but for the cultural education the ride carved an counter-clockwise route through the following towns:
Aside from all my memories, there was one moment of absolute Welshness. If you are ever at the roundabout just outside Nelson, on the road to Abercycnon, stop at the Speedy Snacks for breakfast bap. It’s a close to this as you’ll ever get. They also have special chilli sauce from Barry Island. Which will mean nothing if you’re not from South Wales. If you are from Wales, you’ll understand the profundity of it all. And you’ll understand how some rides end up training the emotions as well as the heart.
Diolch yn fawr.
HAPPY FRIDAY. RIDE YOUR BIKE THIS WEEKEND.
Goo goo g’joob. It’s almost cycling outerwear time. Here’s a roundup, capped off with an opinion.
Levi’s commuter coat. Hip.
Rapha commuter jacket. Rakish.
Rivendell sweater. Professorial.
And the winner? John’s. Not because if it’s pimpy style, but because. Wear whatever you want, just get out there, my friends.
Now stop reading and ride.
HAPPINESS IS EASY TO MEASURE.
The length of my shadows is directly proportional to the depth of my experience out there on my bike.
Early, early mornings or early, early evenings.
That’s where the good stuff is.
The sun and I are on the same level. We’re eye-to-eye. We’re both just getting started or calling it a day and the emotions are deep.
The calmness of the morning means interesting things are in store.
The calmness of the evening means the work is finished, what’s done is done and that’s that.
Here’s to long shadows and longer rides.
NEW BIKE SKILLS: MUSH.
There’s some skills and things I can do on a bike, there’s many I can’t, and few I’m sure, I’ll still have time to learn.
This Summer’s family pilgrimage to Utah brought new downhill skills to the littler cyclists in my family. Bunny hops, drop offs, teeter totters, and simply getting on and off a chair lift on one’s own. For me, I refined a particular technique that is necessary for my family. Namely, dog handling, while guiding and riding with three children and a lovely lady.
We have a dog. There, you can see him up there. It’s the white fluffy thing that looks like Snowy from Tintin. He’s part of the family - apparently. I have a strained relationship with the dog, but one thing that I can’t fault him for (and believe me, there are many things that I can) it is being protective, territorial and generally a guardian of my children and lovely lady. Which is nice, right? Not when we’re out in the wilderness, in a state park, camping or anywhere where there’s a chance we’ll encounter other people, dogs or creatures.
He needs to be leashed…but we like to ride. So he needs to be on a leash while we ride. No easy task, that.
And we’ve discovered that he prefers to be at the back of the pack, protecting us, I suppose. So it falls to me, with my superior bike and now dog/bike handling skills to bring up the mutt and the rear.
Oh, his name? Rinky. Rinky-the-dog. Occasionally, Rinky the f*&$#in’ dog’.
I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to work running into my cycling regimen.
He sent me this image.
It’s called the Fliz.
I don’t think he, nor the folks at Fliz, get it.