My Fourteenth Week as a Budding Author
There are a lot of people out there who don’t like surprises. For example, those with heart conditions, bookmakers and the teams that set up world record breaking domino chains. Me, I’m not one of them, I bloody love a good surprise, however, most of mine are sprung on me by my bike. With little warning components will detach themselves, snap or fuse with other components to stop the bike fro m working. These are not the sort of surprises that I am keen on.
On Monday I got one of the better kind of surprises after a knock at the door. The FedEx delivery man actually waited more than 5 seconds before carding me and handed over an envelope. I signed his electronic terminal with my usual “X” and went inside ..slightly worried that I’d just signed for a letter I was not expecting. I rapidly rewound over the past few months blog posts wondering if I’d libeled anyone or caused gross offense. I think I am only marginally guilty of the later.
So I eventually plucked up the courage to open the envelope and out fell a cheque for a rather large amount of money, lets just say “small car”. With heart racing I looked at the payee, bollocks it wasn’t me. However, the news was better, the cheque said:-
“Please pay the RUSS APPEAL a seriously large amount of cash”
I’ve been running the appeal for a number of years ever since my good mate Russ took a nasty fall off his mountain bike. The story is all HERE. As with any appeal linked to an event/individual donations wane over time as other causes pop up and grab the attention. However, we’ve stuck in there with the RUSS APPEAL and have managed to keep on giving money to the Air Ambulance each year. It comes in fits and starts but it comes.
This donation will make a huge difference, I reckon it will potentially save 30 lives. I think the donor may be reading this. They say that swearing shows a lack of verbal creativity. So I’ll just say, “F**k me mate THANKS for making a f**king difference” because I am genuinely lost for words. Could I cheekily ask whether any others would like to make me lost for words...[click here] even a few quid has me crying like a woman watching X-factor.
Surprises aside, I didn’t get out riding proper until Wednesday. I’ve been planning a section of the book dedicated to “Captains” and have an idea inspired by my own captain that needed some investigation. Those who have not spent time in a road club won’t know what the hell I am talking about, come to think if it I doubt that those who have will either. Anyhow, this meant riding a notoriously fierce climb in the Cotswolds that I’d not ridden before. It’s called Cleeve Hill and a number of my own club have confessed to having walked it in the past.
On Wednesday I set off to ride it from my house. No small undertaking as the hill is 45 miles away via the scenic route. But the sun was out, as were my legs and arms, I had all day and I fancied a few views. The ride out to Cleeve Hill went pretty rapidly, I’m starting to get proper fit. However, my average speed was flattered by wind doping as I tacked gently into a strong south westerly breeze.
My head was in a funny place though. A little voice was nagging away reminding me of those who’d walked. I started to visualise myself getting off and pushing, this vision led to options for curtailment or abandonment. It was really odd, I was doubting myself before I’d even got to the climb. I could understand it if I’d been completely knackered but there was definitely enough energy in the system. I could also understand it if I was a climbing newbie, but I’ve done loads of harder longer steeper climbs in the past.
A stiff personal talking raised the doubt barrier. Quite simply I reminded myself that if I didn’t do it today, I’d have to ride another 45 miles another day and probably fail again. Laziness will always win through in the end.
The climb starts as it means to go on with a huge amount of “upness” that comes very quickly and stays there for a hell of a long time. I ran out of gears after about four rotations of the cranks and was out of the saddle by ten. Two hundred metres later the bike sprung one of its surprises, the right hand rear brake block jammed itself against the rim. This may possibly be linked to me not properly tightening the rear quick release. However, I maintain that, quite simply, my bikes hate me.
Riding a climb with a 25% gradient is hard enough. Riding it with your brakes on is tougher. But I found myself in a quandary. The climb had to be nailed in one go, otherwise it was not done. I was a good way up it, if I stopped I’d have to go back down and start again. Torn between two apexes of pain I gambled on making the top. With the bike “eeyore’ing” like a donkey I grimaced my way upwards fighting both friction and gravity. Ironically I’d been discussing handbrake physics with a friend the week before, now I was in the middle of a practical experiment.
Gurning like a fool I summited, fixed the rear wheel slip and coasted down to a tea shop in Winchcombe for some consolation tea and cake. If I’d studied the route profile harder I would have noticed that the climb out of Winchcombe was similar in gradient but 200 feet higher. So a bit more gurning was done on the way home, but not as much as the fellow I encountered halfway up the hill.
He was in clear difficulties and had adopted a strange strategy. He was zig-zagging wildly across the road. This seemed like madness to me, in his quest to reduce the steepness, he’d doubled the distance. I’m sure some physics nerdy type will pop up and tell me he was right, but evidence proved otherwise as I spun past him saving just enough breath for a cheery “hello”.
A few hundred yards later I looked back and he was still doing it. I showed my support by increasing my pace and sodding off into the distance. Ten miles later I’d forgotten him, that was until he came hooning past me, legs windmilling, on a long downhill. Clearly he’d not forgotten me and had motivated himself out of his zig-zags and into a chase to catch the complacent skinny dickhead who’d done him on a climb.
At the bottom of the hill I looked down to see two brightly coloured male birds fighting on the road. I had a little giggle to myself at the irony of the simultaneous duals taking place. Colourful preened males doing battle for bragging rights. I eased off and took it steady for the rest of the way home. That was nothing to do with leaving a fight, it was down to the head wind.
Thursday was one of those days where after eight hours you look back and think to yourself, “What the hell have I been doing all day?”. I felt busy, I hadn’t surfed any porn or played Angry Birds and my desk was definitely in a mess ..but there was a distinct lack of output. This was criminal given that the weather was beautiful and I’d spent the day sat in my pokey office being completely unproductive. Actually I did do a bit of technical hackery with my Tommy Godwin site which can be seen here.
And so we come to the end of the week. You may be thinking, “Hang on Dave you’ve posted this at 11am on a Friday?”. Well I had to you see as I am carrying out an important public service. It’s my neighbour Malcolm’s birthday this week and his wife pleaded with me to take him away for a weekend’s mountain biking. Clearly this is a huge inconvenience as I have a massive “jobs to do” list and tossed about on Thursday so need to make up time.
But out of the goodness of my heart I’ve relented and will be driving him off to the trails Friday afternoon. I did say “public” service, and if there are any other wives out there who need there husband spiriting away for a weekend, then this is another arrow I have in my charitable quiver. I should probably talk it through with Helen, but I can’t as I’m away mountain biking with Malcolm this weekend.
8th April 2011