Friday, 30 October 2009

Reg's new shoes (and other shiny stuff)

Yesterday two big Wiggle boxes arrived and I skipped merrily down to the post room to collect them.

Reg's new Schwalbe marathon shoes were in there along with some new inner tubes and some very posh bike cleaning gear. Work was horrendous and at lunchtime I decided that since I shouldn't access my work I'd put the new shoes on. Tomorrow's the Whitstable night ride and I wanted them on for it.

I headed down to the car park and had soon flipped Reg over and had the first wheel off. The new shoes are surprisingly easy to get on and have a beautiful reflective strip running all the way round on both sides. I had both the new shoes on and Reg cleaned up a bit with some of the posh new wipes within 40 minutes and he looked gorgeous.

In the course of the tyre change I also caught what was about to be a puncture and repaired it.

I had even managed to ignore the smug 'The joy of cycling to work eh? Puncture?' from more than one person coming in from lunch.

I came back upstairs to meet mayhem. There was much panic in the air because of an issue with computery stuff and stress levels were high. We pulled together and I headed out around an hour past home time. I got outside into the dark and cold evening exhausted and feeling rubbish. But there were the new shoes, winking at me.

My ride home was tangibly comfier and I could feel the extra grip without it slowing me down. Reg and I soared through the night and I arrived home still exhausted but happy. God only knows what mood I'd have been in if I'd been stuck on the bus for an hour!

Thursday, 29 October 2009


Yes, tis the season for the sniffles, tralalalala lala la laaaaah!

I have succumbed to a nasty cold that Mr Weenie had last week. All it does is make me feel a bit hazy, encourage snot and makes me very hot.

Mr Weenie did ask whether I'd rather take the bus to work but when you already feel feverish and rough, the last thing I want to do is climb into a hot metal box on wheels filled with other ill people who will cough and sneeze all over me. Plus, even though it's October I've been wearing naught but a short-sleeved jersey on some commutes because I'm getting so hot. It's cut down the laundry significantly.

No no, I'd much rather sail through the crisp, cool autumn air, pootling if necessary.

A down side is that I have to pull over when I sneeze. I may be a lady but I'm very much of the Watchoooooo! variety when it comes to sneezing. The last time I sneezed while riding I was, fortunately, on an empty road as I didn't feel it coming and the sheer force of it made me swerve indecorously across two lanes.

Yesterday and today I had to pull over on my way to work as I felt that familiar tingle that heralded a whopper. What makes me laugh about myself is even then I felt the need to say 'Excuse me!' in an overly polite fashion.

See, large sneezes don't make you a tramp, I'm still a lady.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I have no life. It's official

So this month I have a little extra cash through various means so what have I spent it on, yes, bike stuff.

Not even exciting frivolous stuff. No no, instead I bought tyres, inner tubes and posh cleaning stuff. CLEANING STUFF?!?!?!!?

I have no life, it's official.

It's pay day and everyone else is buying party dresses for Christmas drinks, nice shoes, sparkly clothes you know frivolous stuff. Not bike stuff by any stretch.

I'm consoling myself with the fect that the amount I spent is almost exactly how much my monthly travelcard would be and, as I stopped cycling this time last year and all the stuff will keep me cycling, I've not actually gone over budget. Plus I did warn Mr Weenie that I was planning a big Wiggle purchase and, rather than dissuade me, he actually agreed I should buy the stuff I did.

What a guy.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Shower rage

My company's quite good when it comes to facilities for cyclists and runners. We have showers in every building with new ones installed recently and one more planned. What's not so lucky is some of the people who use them.

Now, I'm not your average girl, I shower quickly, don't wear make up and am happy to display my Wurzel Gummidge hair in the office and brush it at my desk. However, the reason I get the rage is that when I'm queueing for the showers it is generally the boys who take aaaaaaages.

We have a shower on each floor for three floors. They're in the stairwell and you can stand in one position and see all three doors and dash into the next vacant one. I've queued in this manner several times and at least one management bod knows that if I'm there the showers are full and always says hello.

This morning I was there for bloody forever waiting and it was deemed all the more shocking by the fact that at least two of the showers were running when I started waiting. I heard at least one go off then start up again, I presume for the second hair wash rinse or similar.

I'm all for men taking a bit of an interest in their appearance but do it at home. Some of us are waiting to become office butterflies and are forced to wait in the stairwell still cocooned in sweaty lycra.

This morning I actually had visions of fitting buzzing timers that cut off the hot water after 10 minutes, perhaps that would shrink their..... shower time.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Reg goes clubbing

So I decided to go ahead with my cycling/clubbing plan when it became apparent that the tube was a bit pants. I did, however, decide that I'd aim to take Reg with me on the train partway both ways and that I'd only cycle all the way if I missed the last one from Paddington.

The only down side of all this was that Mr Weenie offered to buy me a beautiful dress to wear out but its length and the fact it was silk meant I didn't want to cycle in it. Sigh.

Instead I wore a fab black sequinned vest-top dress over black leggings. I wore trainers and packed smarter shoes into my pannier along with my cable loop and headed into town. Reg and I caught the train to Paddington from my local station and then I cycled to Oxford Circus. It took 10 minutes (only!) and I had loads of time to lock Reg to a lamppost that was in full view of the club's bouncers on a very well lit piece of road. Someone else's bike was also there so Reg wasn't lonely.

I tidied myself and changed my shoes while waiting for T, whose birthday it was.

When she arrived she laughed and said her mum had joked I'd probably cycle there. She laughed even more when I pointed to Reg chained up a few yards away. We got inside and the night began.

The hardest part was making sure people didn't top up my glass once I'd decided to stop drinking (I don't think cycling squiffy is particularly clever in London traffic). I solved this by getting glasses of tap water with ice from the bar. As long as you're holding a drink no one tries to give you one.

We danced to Dizzee Rascal, I chatted to T's other half and a good time was had. At around 11.30pm I lost the others as the club got packed and, knowing I had to leave at midnight anyway, I decided to call it a night. I got my pannier out of the cloakroom (took ages) changed my shoes and went to get Reg. At 11.45pm we headed to Paddington and at 11.55pm I was buying a coffee from the Costa in the station (who knew it opened so late, hooray). I got on the 12.05am to Reading so I could get to Ealing Broadway and cycle from there. It was the most unpleasant part of the journey.

Everyone was trashed, people kept bumping Reg and only my delicious and much-needed latte kept me going. We got to Ealing Broadway, I carried Reg up the stairs and pedalled home.

I had texted Mr Weenie from Paddington to let him know which train I was on so I was surprised at the level of shock he displayed when I walked in the door. 'Check the time,' was all he said.

It was 12.30am. It had taken me 45 minutes!

Last time I got stuck in Leicester Square and came home alone it took more than three hours by night bus. Where I now live is a good solid walk from the nearest night bus stop and I reckon two hours would have been a good time to do it in.

I was actually in bed an hour after leaving a central London nightclub and I live in zone 4. Even if I'd cycled the whole way I'd have been home in 1hr 15mins max, I know because I've cycled home from the Barbican late at night.

Cutting more than an hour off your journey home and feeling totally safe the whole way door to door: worth skipping a few drinks for? Oh I think so.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Clubbing by bike

Some people think I'm mental but I'm seriously thinking about taking Reg clubbing.

Basically I'm going out for a mate's birthday in central London and getting home by public transport late at night could take me upwards of two hours. By bike it'd take about an hour.

I'm not a big drinker so the prospect of not drinking a lot doesn't faze me and I'd rather bike door to door than have to walk home from the night bus stop alone late at night.

The rain may prevent me from carrying out my dastardly plan but if it doesn't am I mad?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Moomin: my hero

So there I was all worried I had nothing to blog about when a text came in on my phone:

'Ohmigod! Was sailing down Argyle rd feeling smug when back brake unscrewed itself. Fortunately only doing moominspeed or would have been serious A over T* situation! x'

Argyle Road is a massively speedy hill near my parents which has just been resurfaced so is slick and I can easily hit more than 20mph down it. Moomin's steel lady-bike is very heavy and the weight means it can also pick up speed. At the bottom of the hill is a busy roundabout linking traffic to the main route onto the A40!

My hearts beating wildly and although I've rung her her phone's off so I can't find out how on earth she stopped. I would have been terrified! I love the fact that she's obviously found it all hilarious. What a hero. When I get more details I shall duly post them!

*Arse over Tit in family lingo.

** Update: Apparently moomin was able to stop with careful use of her front brakes and is now fine. Not only that, she got off, screwed the relevant bit back together and pedalled on to her destination. What a gal.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Shout out for J

Two punctures in one day and he hasn't been cycling for long.

I feel your pain.

Why I'm reporting you: take two

You drive an enormous articulated lorry through a very busy road. That's not why I reported you.

Last time I saw you you waved and smiled when I got to the front of the traffic queue. That's not why I reported you.

You once stuck your head out of the window of your cab to check I hadn't come down your left-hand-side before proceeding. That's not why I reported you.

When I was in front of you you waited a full five seconds after the lights changed before starting to move so that I could get safely ahead. That's not why I reported you.

You are consistently nice to me as a cyclist and take an interest in protecting me because you know your blind spots are considerable and you don't want to injure me. That's why I rang the company you deliver for and told them you're fabulous.

They've even emailed me back thanking me for emailing and said they'll pass on the message.

BoJo baby get with the programme....

One of my readers met the straw-haired one!

Now I was never a fan of Ken Livingstone, his tram plans and slimy demeanor put me off somewhat. My paperwork was lost so I didn't get to vote in the mayoral election but I often wonder if I'd have voted for Boris Johnson. He's in now, and the fact he's a cyclist is good.

The fact that he's the Tory flagship and will be guided every step of the way by advisers so he doesn't cock it up for the party when they go for the big general election is, in my opinion, also good.

I was horribly disappointed therefore to learn that his solution for women being killed by lorries is that we need to fight our way to the front more. Sigh.

Tory thinks women are ninnies, the cliche is spectacular. Perhaps Mr Johnson would like to come on my commute with me one day and decide whether my decision to hang back from enormous articulated lorries is sensible or silly.....

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


That's how much I'd spend in a year on travel if I bought monthly travelcards at the new fare rates.


Why I'm reporting you...

When I overtook you I was halfway up when you decided to pull out and nearly hit me. Then you trapped me on your right side at the lights. That's not why I reported you.

When you finally let me get onto the left and into the cycle lane a large bin lorry was blocking the lane. I signalled I was pulling out round it but you refused to let me out and nearly ran me into the lorry when you accelerated past me so I definitely couldn't pull out. That's not why I reported you.

I overtook you while you were at the next bus stop. Then the light was red so I took primary position in the traffic queue and you were behind me. You crept your bus forward until you were less that half a metre from my back wheel and when I turned round to check how close you were you smirked. That's not why I reported you.

At the next set of lights you accelerated past me and cut me up while entering the cycle lane. That's not why I reported you.

I overtook you again at the next stop and got far ahead. I stopped at a light and asked the motorbike driver who roared up how far behind me you were and were you at a stop. I decided that if you were anything less than half a mile behind me I would take a different route to avoid you because I was feeling uneasy and more than a bit frightened. That's why I reported you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Nearly hit a cyclist and a victim of my own success

I just didn't see him.

I was at a T-junction and as I pulled across to go right I realised a cyclists was alarmingly close on my left. I'd looked both ways and seen the bus behind him but missed him completely.

It was morning, fairly light and 90 per cent of the cycling population did NOT have their lights on, me included. He was ninja-style all in black but it was broad bloody daylight. See I knew there was a reason I wore bright pink.

I reached work still thinking about it and feeling bad even though neither of us even had to brake hard and no one was hurt, only to find that ALL of the showers were in use. Yes my evil plan to get more people cycling has worked and we're inundated with them. Harumph.

They leave their towels everywhere, get water all over the floor and take FOREVER to get washed.

Bloody cyclists.

Monday, 19 October 2009

'You're brave!': My first of the season

Hurray, someone's finally said it.

You know winter's coming when someone thinks you're akin to Superwoman for taking your bike out even though it's a bit chilly.

Saturday morning music school was the scene. It wasn't that cold, or so I thought. Apparently it was freezing, but I just don't feel the cold when I get going. I wore a base layer this morning and was BOILING when I got it even though I was sedately pootling with S.

Still, always feels great when someone says it, enough of a motivation to keep going over winter I reckon.

Friday, 16 October 2009

A brief rant on lights

S and I are religious about putting our lights on when it gets even slightly dark. In fact, last night we had her rear light moved as we realised her new rack had hidden it.

This means I get super cross when I see ninja-style cyclists (dark clothing, no lights, silent in their approach). You can't see them, traffic means you can't hear them and they're asking to be hit by someone/thing.

Last night my leggings purchase delayed us and it was really quite dark when we pedalled off. A ninja on a Brompton came past us both inches away, I saw him at the last minute. When we stopped at the next lights I remarked on it.

'Gosh, it makes me so cross. That guy was barely visible!'

'What guy?'


A lovely morning

Last night I headed to Evans for the second round of leggings-gate.

I'd ordered in the XL Gore Wear ones and went to try them on. They fit. Like a dream. And are so comfy I could wear them forever. How annoying.

I was, in my heart of hearts, hoping that they'd be way too big but the XL fit like a glove. The fabric's so posh it feels like I'm naked and I have to keep looking down to check that I'm not. The panelling means the fabric is snug without pulling and there's so much ergonomic padding I feel like I'm sitting on a cushion. Mmmmmmmm

S and I set off and secretly I was hoping we'd escape without incident. Yesterday, her first day back after a nasty cough and cold, was horrendous. Solid traffic, a vicious left hook by an insane 4x4 BMW that would have left even the hardest lycra loony shaken and various nobbers on the road.

This morning was a dream. Very little traffic, whole stretches where we could pull out into the right lane with no one behind us and we beat the rain to make it into work dry. We also helped a fellow cyclist on a delicious looking Tricross who needed to borrow a pump. Then to top it off the lovely A2 met us in the coffee shop for a natter as we headed in to park up.

Lovely lovely.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Labia protection for ladies

I've been simmering over the Evans business.

If the staff knew that all the women's stuff is in teeny sizes why weren't there more normal sizes on the shop floor? Why?

I'm so bored of asking in a timid and embarrassed lady voice whether there are any extra larges pretty please. Next time perhaps I should just bellow, 'Hi, got anything that sounds like it's for fat people even though it's actually just for ladies bigger than a twig?' jovially as I stride through.

What horrifies me the most I think is that I'm a size 14 and find it difficult. The average size in the UK is a 16 so where on earth are those ladies meant to get their clothes? Plus, while non-cycling specific gear is ok for short hops and social rides, padding is where it's at when it comes to regular riding.

Ergonomic labia protection is, frankly, a vital part of the kit. If you asked a male cycle clothing executive whether he would expect most men to wear stuff that compromises their balls because they're not thin enough for the clothing on the market I'm guessing he'd say no, so why are women of normal and slightly larger build made to do so by sheer lack of variety?

Just because we don't feel the need to talk obsessively about our lady bits doesn't mean we don't value them highly and feel they deserve the best in terms of comfort.

Come on cycle clothing people, get with it.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Worst morning ever.

Last night I got a puncture just seconds from home so I fixed it in the living room and headed off this morning full of the joys with cycle vouchers in my pocket from my fabulous sister.

A few hundred yards in something was wrong. Yes, the front wheel was on backwards. Oops. Put it back on and continued.

Got to Evans only to discover that they only had the tights I wanted in 'small' and 'medium'. In women's cycle clothing this means 'stick insect' and fat 'stick insect'. Outraged, I demanded that bigger ones be ordered in. The guy across the counter started to ask for payment with a refund of they didn't fit but an icy glare meant the sentence was abandoned long before it concluded.

Tootling on to Hammersmith I reached a road that, while unmarked, you're supposed to go to the right or left depending on which way you're going at the T-junction. I headed for the middle as I was turning right and if you hug the right-hand curb you get squished. I was thwarted by a nobber who was crawling up the middle in everyone's way. I decided to overtake him on his right only to have a blacked-out pimp-mobile roar up my right-hand side. A cloud of suspicious smoke rolled out of the window as it was opened. 'WHAT THE F*** YOU DOING YOU C***?! STOP CYCLING LIKE A F****** IDIOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!' Was spat out of the window by the passenger.

Normally I would have retorted with similar wording but men in hoodies in blacked out cars and who own gold teeth are, in my experience, to be avoided. 'I'm turning right and the guy in front of me won't move, what do you want me to do?' Was all I could say. I was shaking with rage and near tears with frustration a the injustice of it all.

I decided a Starbucks would cheer me up. I came out with a coffee and realised my front tyre was flat. Again.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

How short is too short?

Seriously though, some guy yesterday was in eighties stylie short shorts and it was, frankly, offensive.

Put them away man, get some lycra, it'd be less graphic. When you pedalled I could nearly see your bits and although I tried desperately to drag my eyes away it was train-crash-like in its magnetism. I HAD to look.

Bounce bounce bounce.


Good news from the physio

  • Over rotated spine affecting rib cage.
  • Hyper-mobility of ankles caused by overstretched tendons and ligaments.
  • Referral for orthotics IN shoes.
  • Recommendation I get blocks ON shoes.
  • Right thigh muscles incredibly tight. Calf muscles shortened.
  • Possible torn cartilage in right knee that may require surgery.
  • Hip remains f*****.
'Can I still cycle?'

'Yes you can.'

Can I get a whoop whoop?!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Women's cycle clothing, we're finally getting somewhere

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of stylish clothing on show. There were some very cool-looking biker-style jackets by Swiss company ASSOS and a whole stand dedicated to commuting clothes.

The BSpoke range was featured and, I tell you what, Weenie likes.

My favourite item was a black trench-style jacket with hood. Lined with funky purple it looked like a lovely going out jacket. ... to the untrained eye at least. Any cyclist worth their salt will have notice: the pull down section that covers your arse but then poppers away when you're not cycling; the hidden pit zips and inside pockets; the reversible belt that's reflective, the completely waterproof but breathable fabric. Sigh.

If only it wasn't around £120 I'd be sold. But with standard high-vis jackets, including black fitted one with reflective strips, coming in at a maximum of £70, I just couldn't justify it.

Depressingly, this was a common feature on the clothing I looked at. Cyclodelic and new designer Ana Nichooler were both at the show and had some lovely stuff (check below for pix of Ana Nichooler stuff) but all of it was expensive. A lot of my lycra gear is hard-wearing and not too hideous in the pricing range so I'm happy to throw it over London's roads and take it out most days. I would love some designer stuff but I fear it would stay at the back of my wardrobe as I'd be too frightened to take it out.

Perhaps when women's cycling becomes normal and less rarified prices will drop, at least we're getting somewhere now. On the weekends I don't want to wear lycra padded shorts as I trip round markets and do light shopping. I take great comfort from the fact that women's cycle clothing is being looked at by designers.

Ana Nichoolson stuff, I like........

Perving at Pinarellos and things I don't need

I went to the Bike Show at Earls Court on Sunday and it was super fun. CC and I headed there after I'd already been to Columbia Road flower market with my older sister. I'd headed out and decided to take Reg on the train to Paddington and cycle from there but the trains were cancelled. I managed to get him on the central line to White City and we cycled from there to Liverpool Street. I raced a bit so I wouldn't be late and managed it in half an hour flat.

I locked Reg securely in front of some outdoor seating at a popular and posh cafe and we walked via Brick Lane to the market. We looked at beautiful flowers while drinking lovely coffee and I contained the rage at watching people buy bikes 'liberated' from owners.

I then started to head to Earls Court. It took me an hour!

Traffic, closed roads, idiot pedestrians, road works. Eugh. I arrived to meet CC hugely sweaty and in a filthy mood. We persevered, fuelled by mini cupcakes from Columbia Road and soon started to have fun. I perved at Pinarellos:

You know it's sexy.

We saw a crystal-coated bike:

The clothes will get their own post, as will the BMXers!

Friday, 9 October 2009

BBC women cyclists article....

Not bad, not bad.

Easy as she goes

I'm relieved that someone finally brought up the whole more men are killed than women thing. More women have been killed by HGVs this year, a lot more, but I'm starting to wonder about the possibility of statistical anomaly (wipes brow after effort of enormous words).

The fact is that far more men are killed overall and this year could well be a blip as it were in the numbers. Action still must be taken as one person killed is one too many but it bears some consideration.

The other fab thing brought up in the article is that men and women are different. Yes it's bloody obvious, but when it comes to cycling a lot of dyed in the wool cyclists forget this unalterable fact. Women won't cycle if they don't feel safe and are less likely to be assertive on the road. Men and women have different styles, different things that drive them to cycle and different attitudes. Not all of them, but a lot.

Pity that diagram shows a lorry overtake maneuver that only a mentalist would try. Going up the right side of a lorry? In traffic? In London? With our narrow roads? Bugger that.

Making time for maintenance

Morning gang, I was off yesterday taking dad to his hospital appointment. He's now been told he doesn't need to see the surgeon again for a whole year. Hooray!

We were there for hours! When we returned to leafy Ealing I grabbed Reg and headed to my parents' while dad took the bus. I got to their house and waited. Then I waited a bit more. Then I noticed Reg looked a bit filthy. Then I noticed he looked really filthy. Then I noticed moomin and dad have buckets etc at home. Then I decided to gve Reg a rinse. Then I scrubbed him a bit.... just while I waited. Then I scrubbed him a bit more and gave him soapy scrubbing. Then I gave him hot water rinsing. Then I dried him off. Then I wiped down the frame and gave it a minor polish. Then I got him all oiled up and checked that he sounded all smooth.

Then dad got home.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I wish I lived in Brussels

My cousin H lives in Brussels with two adorable and fabulous girlies and a couple of months ago she decided to get a bike. Lady C her oldest girly (four/five), soon decided she too wanted a bicycle, it's pink because Lady C believes everything should be.

H decided to use the method of giving Lady C a pedalless bike first to help her learn to balance before moving onto a bike with no stabilisers. It worked a treat and she is now a spreading the message of pink on two wheels across the city.

I say across the city because it transpires that Brussels is car-free one Sunday a month so that people can cycle freely. Yes, that's right:

The whole city goes car free one day a month!

Now I know Brussels is smaller than London but am I the only one who thinks it's utterly fabulous and something all European cities should be looking at as a model of good practice? Lady C and H pedal round everywhere whenever the day is on and both love it. It's a lovely, not to say healthy, way of having a family day out and means that Lady C can learn about the road in safety ready for when she gets older.

Vive la Brussels!

Google analytics, the addiction takes hold

Someone showed me Google Analytics as a way of tracking Roger and Me's visits etc and I'm LOVING it.

Hello to my international people and may I just say that I intend to use my fame for good, worthwhile causes. I love you all.

On a serious level, I'm so pleased so many people read it and I'm really flattered. I feel responsible for stuff now so do let me know if there's anything I should be blogging about or noticing!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The rain may not be pissing but the boys are

This morning I got hot, steamy and wet.


I got fully tooled up ready for the promised downpour: waterproof jacket in bright yellow; waterproof socks; shorts because legs dry quicker than fabric; positive mental attitude.

I was prepared, I was ready ... and it didn't bloody rain. Don't get me wrong, there was spittage and slight weeing of water onto my helmet but it wasn't real rain. So false was it that I had to take off my jacket two miles in because I was so hot. My feet got sweaty and I got all red. I was reduced to a pootling speed so as not to overheat. At the same time however, my bottom got increasingly sodden as I splashed through the puddles left by the proper rain that came down early this morning.

The lack of pissing from the sky was more than made up for by the pissing that went on last night however. More specifically, the pissing contests...

I was boxed in twice by boys racing at lights. To their credit they had stopped for them but the revving of engines was replaced by meaningful but polite middle-class looks and the clipping in of SPDs. As the light went amber there was knashing of teeth and furious peddling. Muscles were tested and lycra strained. Panniers bounced madly as potholes were hit and the rattle of mudguards was something to behold.

Half a mile later they all looked knackered when I went past them.

Monday, 5 October 2009

FNRttc to Southend: pictures2

On the move

The sea!!!

FNRttc to Southend: pictures

Reg on the way to Paddington (you can tell he's excited)

Scenes at HPC, the 'crack den'

FNRttC to Southend: the report

What a weekend.

I headed to Hyde Park Corner (or HPC for those in the know) late on Friday night and was rewarded almost immediately when a beautiful young fox decided to accompany me some of the way to the station. When I got to HPC I wasn't the first person there, hurrah! Not only that but I saw my first recumbents in the flesh. Two trikes and a two-wheeled one. Just when I thought it couldn't get more exciting the tandem turned up. It was a specially built one with an upright on the back and a recumbent up front.

I'd put on cyclechat that it was my first ride without friends and, given the friendly atmosphere the last two rides, I wasn't at all surprised when quite a few people came up and asked if I was weenie and said hello. We set off without the ride leader when he couldn't be traced (our usual fearless leader who was meant to be taking a break took us) and headed for parliament, arriving just as Big Ben chimed 12.15am.

We headed off through London with the only unfortunate incident being an idiot throwing a bottle filled with a substance we decided not to check at a group of us. Luckily no one was injured and we turned the other cheek. We checked out the Olympic site (it's huge!) before heading to the Dartford services for coffee and cake. An hour in, an exhausted looking ride leader arrived having slept past his alarm and chased us all the way to the halfway point, which we'd arrived at half an a hour early.

As we set off for the second leg I became increasingly appreciative of my new long-sleeved base layer. I spent a little more to get a swanky merino one that was on sale and my God it was worth it. I was warm and dry throughout without getting overheated and as we left the city behind it got ever colder.

We swept on threough deserted country roads, the only sounds being the whirr of freewheels and the periodic shouts of 'Easy!', 'Hole', 'Glass' and 'Bollard!'.

The route was relatively flat and pace sedate so there was much chatting and we went. We even stopped for a lecture on Czech architecture outside an old boot factory. Near Southend we found a viewing point to watch the sunrise with the castle in view. Mr Weenie's text at 6am asking where his gumshield was provided much giggling before we headed for breakfast.

About 20 minutes in, the level of chat started to dip as knackeredness set in. A few fried breakfasts later it resumed with me being goaded into the cycle back. I resisted but agreed to cycle home from Liverpool Street instead. On the train myself and a fellow rider ended up moving our bikes continually to let people on and off (I say we, she did most of it, thanks again Kate).

I cycled the 12 miles back from Liverpool Street, got home, did the mountain of washing up, ate hopmemade soup with bread and butter and showered. At 12pm I lay on the sofa to watch TV. At 4pm I woke up withn a contented Mr Handsome asleep on my lap.

I then cycled to a local pub for a pint with an old friend I haven't seen for ages. Went home again to a similarly exhausted Mr Weenie before having a takeaway and going to bed.

On Sunday I went for an enormous curry lunch with my parents, sister and cousin. As I ate my second helping of muttar paneer, ginger chicken and tikka, washed down with another mango lassi my family could only look on in admiration, no one eats quite like a cyclist whose done more than 80 miles of a weekend.

I shall post pictures when I get them off my phone!

Friday, 2 October 2009

FNRttC to Southend

Tonight I'm heading to Southend with the night ride crew and I'm quite excited and a little nervous.

Given the colder weather I've invested in a nice long-sleeved base layer and will be wearing leggings. I have waterproof socks just in case, I got up very early and am leaving work at about 4pm so I can go home and nap beforehand. I even came in with Mr Weenie this morning instead of cycling to rest my legs and hip. My only source of apprehension is that I'm going alone. The other two rides I've always brought someone, A2 or CC. This time it's just me.

From a social point of view I'm fine, the boys and girls on the ride are lovely and even if I went all sexist about it around a third of the riders are female this time, a record for the group. Even though A2 came with me last time he's much faster than me and soon sped off into the night (with my permission) while I hung back with the very amiable Wowbagger and others until the next rest stop.

I had many an interesting conversation with people I'd never met before and found a guy willing to lend CC and I a tandem (if we ever get a free weekend, sigh).

No, my real concern is that I might make a tit of myself with no one there to explain away my behaviour. When I fell off at Hyde Park Corner last time A2 stayed with me, fended off others who enquired as to my welfare and shielded me from attention until I was less embarrassed and able to see the funny side of a hilarious accident. Who will do that for me this time?

Perhaps I should just try not to fall off?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Fat One, the cat-shaped dustbin

My commute in this morning was completely non-descript and unworthy of note. The usual idiot drivers, a couple of Tour de Commuters huffing and puffing to pass me and me pootling for once so I don't damage myself before tomorrow night's FNRttC (oh the excitement).

So the cats....

My darlings were on top form last night. Bounding around, play-fighting, meowing for food five minutes after feeding and begging for cheese. Mr Handsome begs for cheese to fit in but The Fat One loves it. All types, blue cheese, feta, cheddar she'll eat it all. She also loves couscous, chicken tikka masala sauce and butter. She'll even eat peas.

Is this normal?

We rarely give her these things because they are, after all, people foods, not for pusses. But her bottom continues to expand at an alarming rate. I won't leave any food out and plates are scraped and rinsed off before being put in the sink just in case.

I don't know of any other cat with this type of dustbin for a stomach mentality. She was dumped on a pet shop at around six weeks old and in our care has never known hunger or neglect. She did suffer a horrible bout of Campylobactor as a tiny but was treated successfully.

I'm at a loss as to her fatness, when she sits looking all cute with her paws neatly placed together all the eye is drawn to is the alarmingly pear-like silhouette she casts.

Any theories?