Friday, 28 August 2009

Idiot taxi

S and I arrived at her house triumphant last night but an idiot blew it.

She led all the way home and had signalled, changed lanes and overtaken cars and other cyclists with aplomb. We were slowly making our way down the last road and chatting as we went. I went to turn right into her road when a minicab (silver estate) came haring down the road towards us. I was already halfway across the right-hand lane so continued to cross when he decided to blare his horn and shout 'Come on ladies!!!!!'

Bemused by his attitude I called 'I'm turning right' in case he hadn't seen my signal only for him to shout 'F*** you!' with incredible force and venom before revving his engine and passing me at a hair's width and roaring away.

I've seen aggressive driving but his delivery was particularly vicious and I was incredibly annoyed and offended.

My first thought, however, was the experience's effect on S, who hadn't met with that kind of thing yet. To my immense pride she shrugged it off, looked at me in surprise and said 'Someone's obviously having a bad day' before waving goodbye and wheeling home.

The pupil has become the master......

The big reunion....

My darling Roger and I were reunited last weekend.

In preparation for the big move I cycled him to our storage garage so he could be safely stowed away. It was wonderful to be back on him, but felt utterly bizarre.

He's soooooo sit up and beg, I felt like a lady on him. I'd forgotten what a bent handlebar felt like. His seat was a squishy cushion in comparison to Reg's hard racer and my bottom didn't know what had hit it. His tires were enormous, at least 35mm and in desperate need of reinflation after a few months out of action. I cleaned and oiled him before storing him completely out of reach of the rain so after a quick pump he was ready to go.

Looking at the speedometer I was horrified as the number 15.5 popped up. It was a couple of miles before I remembered that his speedo was set to miles instead of Reg's kilometers.

His frame's a lot longer than Reg's and, in fact, I felt slightly less stable on Roger but I was a little welled up with emotion at the thought of us being together again. I was on his top gear for most of the journey and I giggled at the thought that I had started so low down on the gears when I started cycling. We got to the garage and he was carefully tucked in by Mr Weenie.

I was drawn back into memories of our first trips together, the wobbly progress we made as I took my first tentative pedals. The canal fall, the first endless trip all the way to work, my first trips into central London and the long trips that were desperate attempts to knacker myself out and counter the insomnia of worry when my dad was ill.

Roger was a cheapo starter hybrid and Reg is a flash roadie but I love them both the same and for very different reasons.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The second jersey

It's arrived and it is PINK.

If you're in Ealing tomorrow you will see me coming!

World athletics had nothing on my commute....

In last week's world athletics it was considered hugely exciting that Usain Bolt had cut a few hundredths of a second off the world record for the 100 and 200 metres.

Other records were set, races were won on hundredths and thousandths of seconds. All very impressive, unless you're me.

I took S in again this morning and it wasn't seconds we shaved of her personal best, it was minutes.... 15 of them. I know this may not sound like much but when you consider it's a cut of a third off her first run it's pretty damn good. She even overtook me on the road! Hmph!

When on the off-road cycle lane we chatted about her success and she admitted it didn't feel like much as she was only going four-and-a-half miles. I reminisced....

When I started I went around two-and-a-half miles to the nearest station. I walked up the hill, I was completely out of puff when I reached my destination and got home feeling like I was going to die. I did the same route on the weekend and it was so easy it was unreal. I whizzed up the hill and arrived at my destination in less than half the time it took me first time round, I was shocked.

When you've been on two wheels for a while it's easy to forget the humble and breathless beginnings. You no longer recall the searing inner thigh pain, the exhaustion, the wobbly hand signals before you got good at them, your abject terror at overtaking a bus. It would be easy to shrug off five miles as 'really easy'. But next time you pass someone pootling and exhausted, remember that was you once.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A note on the new jersey

Mr Weenie has decided I look 'quite dirty' in the new jersey. I asked if he meant I'd got oil on it and he replied that that was not the kind of dirty he was referring too.

Who'd have thought it?

So I bought another one!

When a lorry driver is better than a cyclist

Now, in certain circumstances it's acceptable to get to the front of the traffic queue even if a lorry's at the front and it's a left or straight on lane.

In this morning's scenario:
  1. There was a cycle lane all the way to the front.
  2. The lorry driver had, very considerately, left the cycle lane clear AND left about another half metre clear on top of that.
  3. The forward section set aside for cyclists was also left clear by the lovely lorry driver.
  4. The light had just gone red and, from experience, I know that this junction has a long wait for green.
  5. I was already close to the front.

So far, so safe. But I hadn't counted on the incredibly inconsiderate cyclist in front of me. He knew that I was behind him, along with another cyclist, as he'd busted a gut to overtake us shortly before the junction. So why, WHY did he decide to go up the side of the lorry at the speed of a snail? Why would you go so slowly knowing you've trapped two cyclists behind you into the lorry's blind spot?

The lorry driver had left a wide corridor for us to go through AND left the forward section clear, so what the hell was he thinking?

The answer, dear reader, was that he wasn't thinking at all, he was just tootling along with absolutely no awareness of anyone else. I lost it somewhat, cleared my throat loudly and aggressively until he got the hint and moved out of the f****** way. I then got right in the middle of the forward section and nodded at the lorry driver to express my appreciation that he'd left so much space for me.

The lorry driver was the hero of this piece, he had acted impeccably. In fact, when I had pushed my way to the front and caught his eye to give him a winning smile, he then gave me plenty of time to get ahead and clear before pulling out.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


This morning I wasn't looking forward to my commute.

I was very tired when Sox slipped past Mr Weenie and invaded the bed at 6.30am. He decided it was time for breakfast and that kneading me awake was a way to get it. When that didn't work he licked my ear and headbutted my face. Then he opted for the lie down on the maid and purr tactic. He purrs like a motorbike and the vibration is incredible.

I finally got up at 7.30am and got his biscuits out. Splodge skipped over and, although a little wary after last night's telling off for bringing two mice in, she too got down to some serious wolfing of biscuits.

I dug out my shorts and packed my panniers, had some breakfast and unlocked Reg. It was a bit chilly and I was knackered, but that's not why I wasn't looking forward to my commute.

Last night my right hip flared up and I was in bed by 9.30pm. Although the pain is more ache than agony, it makes me tired and I should have known it was coming as my left knee has been aching for a couple of days. My body subconsciously shifts my weight to my left side when my right hip is about to flare so, weirdly, the first sign is my 'normal' leg starting to hurt.

Lying around only makes the problem worse and so I had to get on Reg and go to work. I nearly made myself late by putting it off. I swung my leg over and hit the pedals. Managed to get onto the Uxbridge Road only slightly less quick than usual and soon settled into my ride.

The route was the same but the experience was different.

I'm not disabled, not able-bodied, not an eco-warrier but I don't own a car, not a racer but I like speed, I'm a girl who only likes pink on her cycling gear, a soprano who enjoys singing the octave below, in fact, maybe it's just me that's different.

Oh well, enough of this deep thinking, roll on the commute home....

Monday, 24 August 2009

Thanks for making my point

S and I braved the roads again this morning for her second foray into work by bike. We had more traffic after an accident diverted lots of people our way but not as many roadworks so off we popped.

On the frequent traffic light stops I explained why I did certain things, like why I had taken the centre of the lane or why I was hanging back at a junction. At one point I did both.

It's a junction in Chiswick and the cycle lane forces you into the left-turn lane. As we were going straight on I took primary position so no one turning left would attempt to do so across my front wheel and I hung back as the cars in front of me were all intending to turn left. As I had no idea when the light had changed I decided we should play it safe as undertaking a queue of four cars that could turn left at any time is, in my experience, a bit of a silly idea.

S agreed and we took primary and waited for green. As we waited a woman came up the cycle lane and decided to try and get to the front of the queue I had assumed she was turning left but I was wrong. She was trying to go straight across. The light changed, she nearly hit the side of a car who hadn't seen her and had turned left across her (he WAS indicating) and the air was full of the screeching of brakes and swearing.

I don't know who that woman was but, if you're reading, thank you so much for making my point, but perhaps not so graphically next time....

Friday, 21 August 2009

Binmen - be nice to them

I've finally found a genuine downside of bike commuting in summer: bin lorries.

It's not so bad in winter but in high summer they STINK. In a car you're protected by your handy windshield and air conditioning, not so on a bike. I've been caught behind three this week and my God it's gross. Nearly knocked me off my bike with the smell, they take up the whole road if it's a side-road, they go at two miles an hour before pulling over without warning and then the binmen jump out swinging the door open in your face. Lovely.

To be honest I reckon it's a similar problem to that of HGVs in that they probably can't see you at all from the cab so I give them an incredibly wide berth when passing. Unfortunately, one of the incidences this week saw me caught behind one on a narrow hill so I was there for some time. My nose tried to close in the manner of a sealion but to no avail. One of the binmen had the decency to give me a knowing smile and we shared a giggle about it but it was still deeply unpleasant.

It doesn't put me off commuting though and has given me a renewed appreciation of binmen. A profession many would sneer at but without them we'd be screwed. They work antisocial hours, deal with what can be dangerous material (who knows which bag has a needle/glass/chemicals in) and they, along with street sweepers are part of the team that keep cycle lanes relatively clear.

Binmen of Britain, this cyclist salutes you!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A very proud sister gets her new jersey

Roboat, my younger sister, received an A in her chemistry A-level today. She's been studying at college three nights a week on top of working full time and missed three crucial weeks following dad's stroke. I, for one, am obscenely proud of her but not at all surprised that she smashed the A boundary by scoring 30 points above it.

*Wipes away the tears, clears her throat, and readjusts top in grown-up and non-emotional manner....*

Back on cycling, the Pearl Izumi jersey has arrived. I got an XL even though I'm a size 14 and it fits beautifully. It's long enough, has a flattering sleeve length and is super comfy. I'll definitely be wearing it home tonight.

I bought it because it was on sale and cost me about £25. Normal price it's nearer £50. I'm sure the fabric's high-tech etc but I'm a little surprised by how lightweight it is. For £50 you'd expect something a bit more expensive looking frankly. Hmmmmmmm dunno if I'll ever be a full price shopper when it comes to cycle gear, sales are just too tempting.

Anyhoo, I would post more but I'm still hysterically giggly after the exam result, so more tomorrow!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Mr Weenie and I are moving. We're having to as he desperately needs some office space so he can get his business organised and we were planning on going bigger at some point anyway. We've decided to rent while we sell our flat so we can be chain free.

What's sad about it all is that every property we've viewed has been rated according to CTWP or Cycle To Work Potential. Although the flat we've decided on is actually closer to work, in a nice area and sounds nice (I didn't see it but we had to grab it) my first thought was 'Oh no, I'll only be going about seven miles to work now.' Seriously, how sad am I? Rather than revel in the reduced commute I'm actually disappointed.

Not only that but I'm excited to meet the neighbours because Mr Weenie spotted a Pinarello on one of the other balconies. Pinarellos are a very expensive and swanky bike brand that I was drooling over last week. And he knows it. Plus, one of his major considerations when deciding on the flat was where I would put my bike and whether it was secure. Once he'd confirmed these details I was happy for him to take the flat without me even seeing it.

How priorities change. When we bought our current flat we searched high and low and our primary consideration was being near to transport so I could get around. We had to be very close to shops, we had to have at least three separate ways for me to get to work. Now we need secure bike space, I can cycle from pretty much anywhere within a 15-mile radius of work and the main concession point is that we're a bit farther from a bike shop. Hilarious.

*Update: It's still just over seven miles each way, hooray!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My protege

When I started cycling A and A2 were vital to my development. Their continued encouragement and praise kept me going when I was exhausted and made me feel like I could continue to improve.

I've cycled in with A several times and A2 came with me to Bognor. I knew I was never alone and even when I got my first solo puncture I was able to ring A, who gave me phone support throughout and gave me lots of positive reinforcement when I got to work. Now I feel I am able to pass this help on.

S works with me so has heard me extolling the virtues of cycling and telling all and sundry how much I love it. I shouldn't have been surprised, therefore, when she announced her intention to get a bike. A couple of months ago she made good on this and has been pedalling around South Ealing on weekends. Despite not cycling in many years and having no idea which brake was which and how the gears worked, she persevered and this morning we cycled into work.

She lives about halfway from my house to work and I know the area well as it's where my dad was in hospital following the stroke. In fact, it felt a bit weird going that route again. But I digress.

We set off using the A4 cycle path and walked the nastier bits, like the Chiswick roundabout and the last section coming into Hammersmith. S did well and didn't wobble once. She signalled, looked behind with increasing frequency and refused to let the noise and bustle of the Chiswick High Road get her down. We negotiated a nasty set of road works and sailed into Hammersmith a good 20 minutes before work starts.

True we went slowly and cautiously, true we overtook just one bus in the whole journey but we didn't ride on the pavement, go through any red lights or break the Highway Code and I tell you what, a lot of other cyclists did.

What put the icing on the cake though was that apparently the tube is up the spout this morning. Mwahahahhahahaha!

Monday, 17 August 2009

On a non-cycling topic...

The singing at the wedding went very well and I wore a very ladylike silk dress for it. I was tempted to cycle, given that I know the route from Clerkenwell quite well but resisted.

Dear Samaritans...

I need your advice on dealing with suicidal people.

Every day I see many people who long for death. They throw themselves in front of my bike when walking, those on bikes seek out the blind spots of lorries and run red lights on junctions with no visibility. They swear at big scary men driving tinted out BMWs and they cross lanes without looking.

What should I do?

I often call out to these people, although normally it's not words of comfort but many do not stop, they continue their quest for eternal rest unheeding of my pleas.

I find it sad that so many people crave death and will do so much to hasten it. I quite like my life and I can't sympathise with them. Sigh. Perhaps your organisation, having dealt with many suicidal people could give me some advice on counselling people. I fear my standard retort of 'What the hell are you doing you t**t!' is unhelpful and doesn't offer them the comfort they crave.

Any advice gratefully received.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Where are the boob-friendly brands?

The end of season sale catalogue arrived from Evans the other day and I've been drooling.

From the £2,300 Pinarello to the £15 C02 pump, I want it all. Mr Weenie rolled his eyes when he came home to me reading it as he'd been wondering when I'd spot it. He encouraged me to get the jersey I wanted though.

I haven't got any real jerseys so I bought one. Shockingly though I'm an XL in Pearl Izumi tops. I'm a size 14 and a bit top heavy so I was a little offended that it was classed as an XL. Luckily I checked the sizing chart supplied on the Evans website, ironically because I was unsure whether to get a medium or a large. I have a pair of Pearl Izumi arm warmers. I bought a large and they're quite tight but I thought that was just to keep them on, apparently not.

A size 16 woman would be classed as XXL and they're not listed any bigger than this on the site. In fact, I know from experience that finding anything above a size 16 can be very difficult. At my heaviest I was a tight 16 but my boobs were an issue in most brands, particularly cycle gear. Now that I've lost weight it's less of a problem but I still find it disappointing.

Surely women who want to lose weight should be catered for in sports clothing, including cycling. Apparently you can order bigger stuff from the states but why should we have to. I love the jersey I've bought as it's quite stylish and that's unusual and it was on sale but I'd think twice about the brand in the future.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Being naked/practically naked at work

Cycling 10 miles each way means that I get naked at work. Yes I do, and I'm unashamed.

It didn't occur to me that by showering I was getting all naked to be honest until I mentioned the showers to a friend. Not realising we had any, her reaction to my cycling to work was 'Eugh! Don't you get sweaty?!'. I replied 'Of course I do, then I have a shower at work'.' 'Oh. My. God. You get naked in your office?!?!!??!??!' I thought for a moment and realised I do, in fact, get naked in the office.

I have had to confront this reality only once before and that was when I fell over in the shower at work. I'd got naked, climbed in and the damn thing wasn't working. I stepped out and, without my glasses on, missed the non-slip mat. I went straight down smashing a towel rail on my merry way. My first thought as I lay sprawled naked and sweaty across the floor was 'Oh God don't let anything be broken, I can't call for help!'. I've learned to accept my office nudity but I've also realised that I come close just by walking into the office in lycra.

If you think about it, one of the only other outfits that shows off that much curve is a swimsuit and you wouldn't wear that in an office surely? I sit at my desk right now in a pair of shorts so tight they leave nothing to the imagination. Even those unaware of the debate over pants under lycra couldn't fail to see where my allegiance lies. But even this doesn't worry me unduly because I know the secret many women don't.....

All those holding in pants that promise to squeeze away unwanted inches.... What are they made of? Yes, Lycra. Good-quality shorts are actually quite flattering if worn with a suitable top. My bottom looks tiny because no one can see that my long t-shirt is hiding the fat that's been squeezed upwards. Hurray!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Finding your inner pootler

As you may have gathered from recent posts I've been allowing the inner racer in me take over a little too often. Every cyclist's a target, from the granny with a basket to the man in a lycra body condom on a carbon dream machine.

If there are no cyclists around it's pedestrians and cars. All in all it's just getting a bit silly.

Last night though, I was forced to embrace my inner pootler. On top of my usual stuff for work I was carrying a lot of jazz music and it was HEAVY. I balanced the two panniers but it was a bit like cycling through treacle. My legs felt heavy and I couldn't change gears with my usual ease.

I watched with envy as people skidaddled past at top speed but, after a while, I began to feel a bit more serene about it all. I glided along, rehearsing jazz lyrics in my head (and occasionally out loud) and still got to my parents' house in plenty of time for the rehearsal. Rather than arrive in an adrenaline-fuelled frenzy I was calm. I had a cup of tea, changed into jeans and, when they arrived, rehearsed.

Afterwards I headed home up the massive hill and continued pootling. It was most enjoyable until the roundabout near home. Why must a few nasty teenagers ruin it for everyone else? Why throw what I think may have been a full beer can at my front wheel while I'm cycling? Why?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

My centenary!

I failed to notice at the time but my Bognor posts mean that I have passed 100 posts! Hurray, pass round the champagne.

Midnight ride to Bognor - Finishing

When we stepped out of the halfway cafe it was freezing and I was in two minds about putting on my leggings. The sun still hadn't risen and I decided to just pull up my knee socks in case I got too hot. I forgot to put on my gloves but A2 got them out of my pannier for me and I was all set.

Everyone was a bit chattery and we were anxious to get going. We set off into a dark blue sky and prepared for the sunrise. It wasn't a disappointment. The mist was low on the fields and the only way you knew there was anything around was the occasional bleat of a sheep hidden in the foggy depths. The sun came up red and gorgeous and it was hard to focus on the road as I kept wanting to turn and look.

Our calls of 'Left', 'Right' and 'Hole' became 'Bunny', 'Roadkill' and 'Tractor'.

It started to warm up and then would suddenly cool as we climbed and descended hills and then we came to the split point.

To avoid an enormous hill the leader had decided we could go one of two ways. A 'genteel route' that involved turnstiles, a small bridge built by the Gurkhas and an overgrown trail to Arundel or a 'ruft tufty route' that went over a bridleway of flinty chalk and involved more climbing. I opted for genteel and A2 went for rufty tufty so we bade each other farewell and wished each other luck.

The genteel crew were a lively lot and we spent much of the time giggling as we helped one another lift bikes over gates and went over the bridge. The bridge was about the width of my handlebars plus two inches. Not nice. Beautiful handiwork though, hurrah for the Gurkhas. The overgrown bit was a bit scary to someone who has a history with towpaths as it was narrow and bumpy with drops either side. We all made it ok and got onto the road. We were then warned there was 'one more hill'. Hmmmmmmm, a lovely girl on an orange Brompton was with me when we hit it and it was very steep. We were knackered by the top and a passing tractor halfway didn't help with our adrenaline levels.

Then we were in Arundel. I was keen to see it as a friend's getting married there next year. It's very pretty and we all took pictures with the castle in them (see the Bognor pics). Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

Turns out the flint path really was rufty tufty and contributed mightily to the rumoured 10 flats we got on the trip.

We climbed the final hill through Arundel to meet the other lot on the main road (yes they said one more hill at the bridge and they lied) and off we went. Then we stopped. Then we went. Then we stopped. Again, flats plagued us but we went through the country roads and ended up in what looked like a cul de sac. I was non-plussed until I realised that, rather than end in mock-tudor semis, it ended in the sea!

We had made it and it was a beautiful day. The sun beat down and I felt victorious. Unfortunately, our late arrival meant A2 and I had to head straight back to London so we and two others headed to the station. We managed to get some delicious and well-deserved coffee, got our four bikes safely stowed and sank into our train seats.

After getting to Victoria I cycled to Paddington and then cycled from Southall home. I went a bit metal for a moment and considered doing the 15 miles from Victoria to home but, luckily, I realised I wanted to read the paper and couldn't do that on my bike.

I got home, locked up my faithful steed and had a very hot shower before going to bed. The bruises were developing, I was exhausted and my grazes stung from the shower, but it was bliss.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Midnight ride to Bognor - Getting going

After my spectacular fall I was far more chatty to new people than usual. Rather than be embarrassing it was quite liberating. It was a great way to start chatting to people and I heard some great tales of the 'my first tumble' variety.

I also got to chat to a few ladies. Fairly usual you say but I say no. These were all ladies who love to cycle, do so regularly and we were all on the same wavelength. One was the lovely Liz who I got chatting to because I've seen her on my commute. We had a lovely time gossiping about the Uxbridge Road and the Ealing area as we pootled through London.

I chatted to various other people as we went through Clapham and made our way out to the country. Part of what I love about the FNRttC is that it's perfectly acceptable to pootle along and chat as you go but it's equally acceptable to steam ahead for some alone time. As someone said, you can be as sociable as you like. We got the usual jeers and cheers going through Tooting with a couple of enterprising lads attempting to run alongside the pack and we had a policeman call us 'very brave' for going through Epsom at club chucking out time.

The lights started to get farther apart and the riders got more spread out as we approached the M25. I was glad to have my energy drink with me. It tasted of squash made wth sea water but I didn't get cramp this time and my muscles felt a lot less battered. A2 and I stick together for some of the time but he's a fast rider and I assured him I didn't mind if he wanted to go to the front. We stopped outside London and it was suddenly cold. My arm warmers were put to good use and didn't come off again. I also pulled up my bright yellow Primark knee socks. At £1.50 they were £18 cheaper than the leg warmers I nearly bought and my God they were toasty! I ate my tasty cereal and energy bars and was relieved I'd packed a much smaller pannier this time. I also left my very heavy D-Lock in London.

The moon was almost full and Venus was bright beside it, I can't actually describe how beautiful it was as we sailed through the night. We went up hills and down and I was only caught out once. A2 had a puncture and had waved me on saying he would catch up (he did, the bastard) and I ended up cycling with the lovely Wowbagger. He's a pootler and chatted away until we hit a nasty and unexpected incline (17% apparently). I hadn't changed down fast enough and rather than put Reg's chain under strain I got off and walked 20 yards.

I was starting to flag and it was to my great relief that I called out 'I hope we're near the caf!' to a rolling wayfinder only to have him reply 'It's 10 yards away!'

Why does no one tell you that an egg sandwich and hot, sweet tea cure everything? We descended upon a truckers' cafe that had been forewarned of our apearance, and enjoyed a sit down in the warm and some well-earned food. The ladies also peed. Why is it that the boys always have to go several times en route whereas every lady managed to wait until the halfway point and then wait for Bognor? Sometimes I think they just pee behind trees because they can.

Soon the leader called the five minute warning and we stepped out into a suddenly freezing car park. We saddled up, went round the roundabout to wait for the last people and we were on again......

Bognor pics - 1

Some of the 'genteel' crew in Arundel waiting for the rufty tufties to traverse the flint path.

My knee... waaaaaah!

Bognor pics - 2

At a rest stop

Reg and me on the coast at Bognor

Midnight ride to Bognor - The big fall

So on Friday night I cycled to Bognor overnight and it was amazing. But it was a night of firsts: first time I've been to Bognor; first time I've come off my bike on the road.

We met up at Hyde Park Corner and I was hugely excited. We stood and chatted as people arrived, including A2, one of the people instrumental to my cycling. He and A are the Mr Miyage to my LaRusso. So we had the safety talk about calling directions, stopping at red lights (it's a CTC ride so they're very strict about these things) and we set off. Then I fell over. Twenty yards from the start. In the road. In front of 80 people.

We were riding in a close pack and I'd just had my front brakes changed. Someone came close in front of me, I swerved and braked hard and went over. Apparently it was a 'perfect wipeout'. I also bounced my head off the road but was wearing a helmet so it was only many hours later when I thought the incident through that I even realised I'd done it. More importantly, Reg is fine. I blocked two lanes of traffic but got up and soldiered on. The group and A2 were hugely solicitous and assured me I could go home but I was determined to do the ride. I had grazed my right knee quite deeply and my left inside shin but never mind.

What I couldn't tell the concerned A2 (who is male), was that the handlebar had jammed into my boob and lady bits. My left boob now looks like a baboon's arse and there's black bruising on my pubic bone and right inner thigh. Ouch. It hurt for the first hour but subsided significantly after that and I started to enjoy myself in earnest. The sky was clear, the moon was up and it was beautiful.

I'd fooled myself into thinking not everyone had seen but my illusions were shattered as quite a few people sidled up next to me throughout the ride to ask if I was ok and to regale me with the tales of their first public fall (many of them were first-time cleat users) and the various hilarious things they'd done on a bike. I'm sure they were only telling me to make me feel better and it worked.

When I got home Mr Weenie was remarkably non-giggly when I told him of my injuries but he assumed they weren't too bad. As the clothing came off he was suitably shocked (he'll be the only person to see all of them). But, to be honest, although my pride is damaged it's like everything else. Now that it's happened once I'm less frightened of it happening again. I was in a controlled ride, with people who stood and blocked traffic until I was up and safely out of the way, I wasn't alone, I wasn't in a collision. Never mind.

I shall post pics and more about the ride itself later......

Friday, 7 August 2009

On the train

Reg is having a checkup before the big midnight ride tonight (Bognor here we come) so I was forced to take public transport to work. I so nearly didn't do it but on the last ride someone's faulty bike got him sent home at Gatwick and held everyone else up so I decided to pay the £10 to get his brakes checked and be given the all clear.

I dropped Reg off outside the bike shop and prepared for a 'proper commute'. Buses are, like, well slow and boring; trains are full of coughing people and probably filled to the brim with swine flu; stations are full of bustling, rude people with no regard for anyone else; and it all costs a bloody fortune.

My eyes lingered on the lucky people who sailed past my bus on their bikes and I consoled myself with the the fact that most people had to do it every day and at one point I did too.

I'm always struck with a sense of the surreal when I use the bus and tube to get in. The guy in Ealing Broadway's sandwich shop asked me where I'd been and then, from memory, poured out the medium coffee wth one sugar I drank nearly every work day for four years.

The bagel shop in Hammersmith station was similarly nice and I was greeted with the 'Where have you been?!'

I was lucky this morning as there was very little traffic on the bus route, the train was right there when I arrived at the broadway an I got to see some friendly and familiar faces. Yes, all in all, the commute wasn't as bad as it could've been, it was just not as fun as my bike.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Red lights - personal choice but be logical

Ah, the old chestnut that is red light jumping.

Some people do it, others don't, some people have strict criteria for jumping, some will only do it on crossings, not junctions blah blah blah.

I have, in the past jumped them (mainly when no one was around at all, not a soul or car) but now I never do. My cycling style's changed a lot since I began two-wheeling last year and, for me, red light jumping's just not something I do. If someone else wants to it's their prerogative and as long as I don't get harassed for my decision I'll leave everyone else to theirs.

What did puzzle me though, was the absurd logic of a guy this morning. He kept getting in front of me, jumped one light, but not the next, weaved a lot and then, at a large junction I was totally confused. The light was red so he got off his bike and walked it straight across the junction. Not across the pedestrian crossings, he walked in the middle of the junction, in the middle of the road. Once he was across he got back on and pedalled off.

Luckily he crossed unscathed and managed to get a couple of minutes when the two roads with green lights were traffic free but WTF? Why not just pedal across if there were no cars? Why take an extra five minutes to cross by foot if you're not going to use the pedestrian crossings? Why make yourself look weird and eccentric? Maybe we'll never know.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A clash of hobbies...

As I've mentioned before, I tend to sing a lot. I love music, teach at a local music school on the weekends and am happy to warble away the hours.

I also sing while cycling sometimes but last night my two loves clashed horribly. I'm singing at a friend's wedding in a week and a half (eek) and was rehearsing with the pianist last night. He's Yorkshire and was a little taken aback by the shorts. I was wearing my lycra ones (still sooooo comfy) and a shapeless black t-shirt. I protested that they were the longest out of my lycra shorts and he raised an eyebrow.

We got down to business setting up a song list for the wedding, rehearsing various endings, scrapping songs I hadn't got a hold on, checking chord charts etc, but something was wrong. I couldn't get into good voice and apart from the classic 'Cry me a river' (NOT Justin Timberlake) I couldn't get into the mood.

Then I realised: my inner diva was repelled by my lycra. She was shreaking in agony everytime I looked in the mirror at my unkempt hair and shiny brow. She longed for shaved legs and an effort to be made with my appearance. How, she asked, could she project sex appeal in shiny, black, look-like-they've-been-spraypainted-on shorts and a damp and salty t-shirt?!??!?!?!

I think I may have to bring a change of clothes to next week's jam.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Hurray, a poll

I've just discovered the poll feature! Someone answer it!

New shorts

Last night I decided to get some new shorts on the spur of the moment. I ended up spending £20 (!) on a pair of Lycra padded ones by Altura.

To be fair I spent £15 last time and I must say that these ones are a revelation. They're incredibly comfortable without that stretched out feeling over the arse that makes you panic they're going to rip. The padding's more discreet and they were actually more flattering if that's possible.

They're women-specific but my experience of products aimed at ladies is that they're not always that fab frankly. Baggy shorts can be incredibly tight round the waist and loose right at the bottom, lycra can be very tight over the widest bit of your bum and, considering these things are for cyclists they assume you have tiny thighs.

All in all, the new ones were definitely worth the extra fiver and I'll buy that brand again. I'm shouting about it on here because there's nowhere else to shout or look for reviews for lady-specific cycling gear.

Altura Curve shorts: Weenie likes.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Singing while you cycle

I confess I occasionally sing while cycling. Ok, so I do it all the time.

I no longer wear headphones and I'm learning music for a wedding so I find my self singing away as I pootle along. Cycle hero M had also admitted to this as we were in the same chorus and we discovered we both started singing the Verdi Requiem, Belshazzar's Feast and various other bits and bobs as we pedalled home.

In fact, this morning I was singing the Dies Ira from the Verdi after being moved to get off my bike and move a road sign. There's a diversion near me and every morning they put the temporary sign over the cycle lane. It's clearly visible from the pavement so I got off Reg and moved the damn thing. It was heavy and I had to drag it but I felt righteous. Hence singing day of judgment stuff. Anyhoo, I though M and I were alone in our vocal pursuits.

But we're not the only ones....

This morning a guy shouted 'Hoi!' as I went past. I was startled and a bit mystified. I assumed he'd been criticising my overtaking manouvre and thought nothing of it. But then he caught up with me at the lights and I could hear what sounded like a sea shanty drifting on the breeze. He was merrily singing to himself and, yes, the chorus involved the word 'Hoi!' shouted loudly.

I smiled to myself, overtook him and for the rest of the journey allowed myself to hum just that little bit louder.