Friday, 29 January 2010

Discharged from physio!


My lovely physio has scolded me for neglecting my exercises for the last time and I have been released into the wild.

I must:
Walk like a lady.
Accept that I am hypermobile and deal with it.
Keep stretching.
Suck my stomach muscles in continually.

Hmmm, am exhausted already, I think I'll limp over to the sofa to mope about my bendy joints, curl up in a tight ball and practice making fat father christmas bellies. Oh wait....

Thursday, 28 January 2010

An education in bus driving

As I was heading home on Tuesday night I was forced to give a bus driver a lesson.

A van being a nobber had forced me into the wrong lane I can't be bothered to go into it but he'd revved, tailgated then decided to undertake me and I had ended up in the left hand side of the the filter lane to turn right. I did want to turn right but I normally take the centre of the lane as the road's a little narrow there.

I was a little surprised therefore to get beeped at by a bus behind me. I was over as far as I could go and was waiting for the traffic to move forward a bit to get in the centre of the lane.

As I attempted to shuffle across further the bus driver leant out. 'Why are you not in the cycle lane?! You go there!' (He was pointing to the left.)

I replied:
'Actually I don't go there if I'm turning right and that's what I'm doing. Oh and I have every right to cycle on this bit of road according to the Highway Code. I would read it if I were you, especially given that driving's your job.'

When his passengers began to giggle at the bus stop he retreated into his cab muttering an apology.

I feel I've taught him something useful. How marvellous.

Monday, 25 January 2010


I saw someone nearly get squooshed today.

I see people come fairly close regularly but this was really close. He went up the left side of huge lorry as the lights changed at a left turn. He wobbled forth and ended up inches from one of its wheels. Then, as he entered the Hammersmith one-way system he actually cut the lorry up again because he was in the wrong lane.

I was horrified. What upset me the most was that he clearly had no idea just how close he'd come to disaster, nor did he think he'd done anything wrong.

My heart was in my mouth and I wanted to call out a warning but was worried that, if I distracted him, I would make it even worse than it already was. So, instead, a strangled 'Eep!' sound was all I uttered.


Friday, 22 January 2010

How bright do lights need to be?

A couple of nights ago I was preparing to swing out past a parked car (in the cycle lane, sigh) so I signalled and glanced behind.

I was met with a light so bright I was momentarily dazzled before black spots began appearing and it took a few minutes to recover. Luckily there wasn't much traffic so my temporarily impaired vision didn't lead to an accident.

I can hear you thinking that surely this must have been a car with its lights on full beam. Nope. It was a cyclist.

In the last couple of months I've seen a real increase in the number of cyclists carrying incredibly bright, and expensive, lights on their handlebars. On one level I'm pleased that some cyclists are taking their lighting seriously, those without the legally required minimum shouldn't be on the road, but on another I find the escalation of it a bit tiresome.

On winding and remote country lanes and in some suburbs I can see why you would need a light capable of exposing every pothole and obstacle and, in narrower stretches, you may well need a light that signals your presence for tens of metres so that cars don't come haring round corners and squish you. But surely, even in these circumstances they should be pointed at the ground, not full ahead where other cyclists and drivers will be blinded by them?

In London, where the roads are lit by street lighting, bike lights are primarily to let drivers know you're there aren't they? Quite frankly enough people cycle comfortably (if not safely) on-road without any lighting whatsoever to prove that they're primary purpose is not to light the way ahead.

Maybe I'm wrong but you won't see me investing in anything above 100 lumens (or whatever they're called) any time soon.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Meeting politicians is soooo tiring

For some reason I am tired all the time at the moment.

After meeting transport minister Sidiq Khan to hand over the Sustrans Motion for Women petition on Tuesday afternoon I got home and fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm. What a wimp.

He was, it has to be said, very nice and gave us some chatting time before rushing off to his next appointment. Some people I know have been dubious about the petition but the fact remains that with women making up the small minority of cyclists in many areas it makes sense to actively target their concerns to boost the number of cyclists.

It was most exciting to enter the Houses of Parliament and they obviously get quite a few cyclists as the x-ray security person not only asked if I had 'one pannier or two' to put through, but when one of them was x-rayed I was politely asked whether I was carrying cycle tools (I was) as 'they always come up looking odd on here'.

After the event I cycled along Whitehall, up to Buckingham Palace, through Hyde Park and headed home via Notting Hill. It's a nice cycle even accounting for the Shepherd's Bush roundabout and some dubious manoeuvrings by a couple of black cabs.

I got home, showered, was bought pizza by Mr Weenie and started to watch the football with him. I say started because I was gently snoring at 9pm. I curled up with my head in his lap and the spare quilt on th sofa and snoozed away.

Yesterday I was still exhausted and today I'm also knackered. All these politics, it's exhausting.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Stop f****** dithering!

Ok, so you've pulled out across the main road after misjudging my speed.

I've screeched to a halt, fishtailing slightly with the effort, and I look very cross but am patiently waiting.

You are blocking one side of the main road now as you look at me in wonder and decide what to do while pulling a face like you're going to cry.

The cars behind me are starting to rev ominously and I look even more cross.

Refusing to be rushed, you continue to sit in the road looking around you like a loon.

I break the silence:

'You've already f***ed it up mate, so move your f****** car!'

You drive into the petrol station, I shake my head in disbelief and we all get home eventually.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Clothing etiquette

Clothing takes on a whole new meaning when you cycle. Fashion goes out of the window.

This morning not only was I able to forego my jacket but I wore three-quarter length leggings. Bare leg was on show and I was of course wearing my 'seatbelt'. My Sam Browne reflective yellow belt was glowing in the misty conditions.

It was wonderful. I'd forgotten what it was like to cycle without Michelin-man-like clothing to protect me from the arctic winds of the last few weeks.

I sailed along much faster than of late, even switching the to third and final chainring. Ooooooooo

On Saturday I was in my new overshoes, courtesy of my grandad, who, now in his eighties, has decided to give up cycling. The rain was torrential but my feet stayed warm and, going to the pub and lunch with my sister, I fully appreciated the carrying of spare socks. Mmmmmm toasty.

One lady on the road this morning though seemed unable to throw the last vestige of style out of the window.

When it's damp underfoot and the road's going to coat your chainring and, therefore, feet and lower legs with crud, white knitted Ugg boots are just not a good idea love. I myself own a pair of Goldenram Uggs, bought by my fabulous sister last year, but that road crud is just never going to come out.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A way to display those bunions...

So, I'm out with the fabulous T for lunch when I realise I need to go to Boots. As I'm searching the new layout for those essentials every girl need (razors, aspirin, hand cream etc) I am stopped in my tracks by a display for 'Snowflake party feet'.

For those of you not familiar with Scholl Party Feet, they are basically squidgy rubber things that cushion the ball of your foot when you're wearing high-heeled shoes. I had thought they were the kind of accessory best described as 'discreet'. Apparently not.

'Snowflake' ones boast GLITTER. Yes, you too can flaunt your bunions with pride as you twinkle your way across the dance floor. Don't wait for that possible Mr Right to discover your various physical foibles after several months of committed relationship, get them out in the open first off so you can always say 'Well you knew I had ugly feet when you met me!' when he cites it as a reason for leaving you several years into a seemingly happy marriage.

Honestly, what next?

Arsehole neighbour with a double bass

I'm too tired to post much this morning thanks to my arsehole of a neighbour.

Since we moved in the flat next door has ruined what could be a great flat. They hold noisy parties and 'jam sessions' late at night, normally on week nights and generally take the piss when it comes to noise but last night took the biscuit.

At around 10.30pm the guy with the double bass started to play. Bowing rather than walking bass style. At around 3am he stopped.

I'm able to sleep through thunderstorms once I'm off but Mr Weenie isn't so lucky. Even after he'd banged on the wall to let the guy know he was making way too much noise it continued. A repeated phrase of around five notes over and over and over and over.

I'm planning to go round tonight. We just can't take it any more.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

If you have to get a puncture, get one at Ealing Common

So off I cycled into the night last night. My colleagues' fears about the snow were completely unfounded and although it was damp on the road the temperature meant the snow melted away to nothing rather than turn into the sheet ice of recent weeks.

I was enjoying the lack of traffic (I worked late) and clear roads when I heard a suspicious sound.

Shh... Shh... Shh... Shh... Shh... Shh... Shh...

It got faster if I sped up and slower if I eased off.

I had a little ponder:
Hmmmmmm, perhaps a leaf stuck on the tyre? Maybe something else? Perhaps the wheel buckled on that last pothole and the rim's hitting the brake? Should I stop? Am only 15-20 minutes from home, I could chance it. No, I'll stop.

I pulled over outside Ealing Common station and good job too. The sound was the escaping air from a puncture. A chunk of glass was clearly visible in my front tyre even in the relative darkness. Fabulously, Ealing Common has a 'foyer' of sorts, it's warm, dry, well-lit and big enough that a cyclist carrying out repairs is in nobody's way. I set to work. As the source of the problem was so obvious I took the extreme step of deciding not to take the wheel off. I released the brake and took the tyre off.

A well-meaning guy from the kebab shop looking into the station came and looked concerned while giving lots of advice. 'You should carry a spare inner tube!' Yes I always carry one but I actually have two with me. 'You should take the inner tube all the way out to find the hole!' I would normally but, actually, I already knew where the hole was. 'But do you have any patches?!' Ummmm yes.

All very well-meaning I'm sure. He even applauded when I got the tyre back on and pumped up.

A member of the station staff then gave me some tissues to wipe my hands with. Lovely.

Mr Weenie had offered to come and get me when I rang to tell him I'd be late because of my puncture fairy visitation but was audibly relieved when I rang to let him know that he could leave his pyjamas on and get the takeaway ordered.

It took me about 20 minutes all in to get repaired and back on the road. I was in a safe, dry, well-lit place with helpful staff if I'd needed anything.

If you're going to get a puncture it was a good place to get one I reckon.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wet pants. Gross.

Of all the days to forget your spare pants (or panties for those in the US), today was not a good day. I ended up cycling all the way to work because the trains were so badly affected by the snow that's still falling and although I didn't find the roads any more slippery than in heavy rain, the traffic was AWFUL.

It took nearly an hour to get in, normally it takes half that but the cars were stationary and some of them were being very silly. It was bumper to bumper most of the way and tempers were frayed. Desperate attempts to turn onto the main road left quite a few people blocking lanes of traffic and the sound of horns blaring in rage echoed all around.

Many people appeared to have just got into their cars and started to drive without bothering to clear their lights or windscreens. Wipers will clear the windscreen but clear your f*cking indicators people! Nearly hit a guy turning left across me because I couldn't see him indicating. He looked angry at first but went an embarrassed pink when I pointed to his hidden lights.

I carried on passing numerous buses with snow like a thousand tiny marbles hitting my eyeballs.

All that so I could sit safe in the office with the slush of the commute soaking through my nice clean jeans from my soaking wet pants. I just hope no one thinks I've wet myself.

SPDs, the great debate... again

I'm still undecided.

Although I feel the allure of 'proper' cycling shoes and pedals I worry about what happens in an accident. When I had my bump with a car I came off sideways and slid out from the bike so very little of the weight was on me. My legs were able to straighten even though my body had twisted round as although I have toe clips I don't have straps so my feet can just slip out of the sides.

With SPDs I'd worry I stay clipped in and my legs would end up all twisted or I'd end up with the bike landing on me in painful and unexpected places.

I'm still also leaning more towards the joy of being able to wear pretty much any shoe I want with the current set up. Yes you can get SPD pedals that are flat on one side but I like toe clips as they stop my foot sliding off the front, a problem I frequently had with Roger.

I use Reg for all sorts of excursions including social ones and I'd rather have a set up that fits that, 'proper' or not.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hot but no cold yet

Eugh, the sweat.

Normally my whiny sweat posts are for summer but I felt hugely gross this morning. A light base layer, jersey and jacket combo meant I was sweating like a pig this morning. Eugh. The steam actually rose out of my jacket when I unzipped it at some lights.

I strode into the Starf*cks near work for a bucket of coffee and saw colleagues shivering and bundled against the cold and I was utterly bemused. I may actually go without a jacket tonight I was so hot.

Not only that but I've escaped nearly every major cold going round this year. The few days I took the train left me sniffling and I'm sure I've stayed well mainly because I've not been crammed into a tube carriage with ill people. Someone should do a study.

I know statistically cyclists take far fewer sick days but this is ridiculous. Every year but this one I've been struck down with a massive coldy lergy and I've had a couple of near misses this year but nothing hideous.


Monday, 11 January 2010

Cautious driving vs driving scared

This morning Reg and I braved the roads. I walked to the end of my road as it remained ungritted and got on at the main road. We pootled cautiously at first then, although I cycled slower than an average commute, we headed off at a steady pace with his brand new rear brake blocks installed the night before.*

I had anticipated slightly heavier traffic from the reduced speeds and people peeking out too far before entering the main road because their braking distance was increased but I didn't count on scared drivers. I don'tr mean cautious drivers. Cautious drivers don't drive to fast, they give plenty of signals when turning and changing lanes, they look in their mirrors a lot and you can generally tell what they're going to do. Scared drivers are the frightening ones.

One example was me trying to overtake a stationary bus. I signalled and looked behind me, a car behind appeared to slow so I pulled out but she just kept coming. She wasn't slowing, she was just going at a ridiculously low speed. With her hands clamped to the steering wheel and staring straight forward, she looked terrified and certainly wasn't looking at me. Cue me nearly hitting her and her becoming even jumpier. Yes I stayed clear of her after that.

Others were braking too sharply, swerving round unfrozen puddles less than an inch deep (I presume in case they were icy) and generally nobbing around.

When it comes to snow and ice Londoners are, I'm ashamed to say, quite weedy. In Yorkshire people are digging their cars out of the snow an generally getting on with things. Get a grip people.

*They are Koolstop ones in 'Salmon' (pinky red) and seem very good so far.

Friday, 8 January 2010

At least people think I'm hard

As the days go on and the cold sets in I'm getting more anxious texts and emails making sure I'm 'being careful'.

No I'm not a sexually rampant teenager, it's because I'm a cyclist and friends and family now automatically assume I'm cycling, whatever the weather.

I sigh dramatically and send a message back clarifying that I'm off the bike when it's so icy but deep down I love it: Wheeled Weenie, super cyclist. Of course it does chafe a bit because I would love to be on my bike and am hating commuting regular style but, at the same time, I feel like a proper cyclist if people know I'd be out in this sort of weather if I could be.

Wait a minute, what if they just think I'm dumb enough...... Godammit!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The sneezles and the wheezles

Day two on the tube. Eugh.

This year I have successfully managed to avoid most colds. I've not had one during the cold snap and it's been great. I mention it in past tense because now that I'm back among the unwashed and unhygienic masses on public transport I've already got the sniffles and the sneezles. This is all caused by the wheezles.

You know who you are you 'heroes' who battle into work with an accurate physical representation of plague. Your eyes and noses are red and streaming and you've always forgotten your tissues so spend the journey sniffing and snorting like the swine that gave you the flu.

You cough your wheezy breaths across the carriage in steamy breath so thick it looks like you've hired the germs from a Domestos ad to follow you to work.

No one likes you, go home.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mr Suave

Mr Suave is a colleague, he NEVER reads my blog so I've had to promise to give him a mention to encourage him.

A brief description:

Mr Suave lived in Italy for a year so is stylish, in fact, worryingly so. I have a feeling he spends more time in the bathroom each morning than I do in an entire week. He's about my height (5ft 10"ish) with hair carefully constructed with what looks like old-fashioned pomade. His hair is sacred. While he tolerated a Christmas hug with a look of disdain, to mess the hair would herald instant death.

Recommend to a friend? Hmmmmmmmm no one expecting anything more than a Pret coffee the next morning and definitely not to anyone expecting a phone call.

In short, good fun to work with and, although he tries not to be, probably quite a nice person overall.

Hi Suave, oh and a big shout out to his favourite person and longest ever relationship partner A3.

What a letdown

I live on a dead end that borders a park and when I woke and peered through the window the snow had drifted and looked a good few centimeters deep. Decision made, no cycling.

Mr Weenie agreed to take me to the nearest tube and we set off. As soon as we cleared the end of our road I realised my heinous error. There was no snow at all on the Uxbridge Road. Not even ice. I watched a couple of cyclists whizz by as we queued in traffic, it was so unfair.

I waited nearly half an hour for a train and crammed into the carriage. I bit my tongue as a brash blonde played her Michael Jackson loudly through her earphones and took up enough room for two. My only consolation was that her over bleached hair was starting to crisp in the freezing air.

Where are the 40 centimeters? Hmmmm?

I feel particularly cheated because my poor parents are stranded in Paris as their plane home from a new year break was diverted at the last minute when Gatwick was closed. Their luggage is still on the plane so they can't even train it home and it took six hours before they got a hotel. Poor dad, who still suffers from exhaustion after January's health excitement was made to queue for four hours standing up.

With that kind of drama going on I feel like I should see some evidence!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Crouching kitty, hidden danger

I crouch, waiting.

As I ponder the meaning of the universe and it's relation to the amount of food I can get out of my human cohabitants I hear the steady whirring I've been waiting for. I sit, like a statue, willing the freezing pedaller closer.... closer.

At the optimum moment I spring forth with a yowl, inches from the cyclist's front wheel.

I pause, revelling in the screech of brakes and the loud whoop of fright from the lycra-clad victim.

Once she has fishtailed to an exciting stop on the ice I saunter off and flick my tail. Ha!

I am the kamikaze kitteh.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Post-Christmas fatness

Eugh. This morning I braved the arctic winds and icy roads to cycle to work.

It's been a couple of weeks since Reg and I have gone that far and it showed. There was a disturbing meeting of my stomach and knees at the apex of my pedal however..... i.e. my stomach has expanded to the extent that it impedes my pedalling.

Oh dear.

Not just that but I was knackered after cycling in this morning. I cycled a bit while off work but not anywhere near the 7.5 miles that makes up my commute.

I roasted a duck for Christmas and I'm not ashamed to say the highight was the roast potatoes and parsnips done in the fat in the bottom of the roasting tray.

On the plus side, while friends and colleagues are signing up for pricey gym memberships and fat-busting online diet plans I just get on Reg and wait for the calories to burn themselves off.