My Thirty Third Week as a Budding Author
Holidays are a bit of a nightmare for me to be honest. The principle reason being my complete lack of self discipline as I realise I don’t have to wake up and do something hard. For sure, they are a good time to relax, reflect and spend quality time with friends and family. The problem is that the quality time often involves a glass of wine or beer which makes one peckish, so the “holiday” treats such as nuts and chocolate appear. During holidays my dietary restraint flies out of the window to be replaced by a vague promise that on my return I’ll exercise well and eat properly to see off the products of my excess.
The last two weeks spent in France were no exception, especially since they were spent with Claire and Malcolm Would-you-like-a-beer-dave. Both of them are sneaky as hell in the weight gain avoidance stakes. Malcolm has developed a unique metabolism that can ingest and subsequently digest huge volumes of food somehow bypassing the fat generation phase. I suspect he has some special trousers just like the soldiers in the Great Escape. One day I’ll catch him in the flowerbed emptying cellulite down his leg whilst whistling. Claire applies measured portion control during the day carefully calculated against the coming evening’s units of alcohol. I strongly doubt that she had any excess baggage to declare at customs.
Here’s a picture of me at the start of the two weeks:-
And here’s what I looked like just before returning home.
You may think I’ve photoshopped the picture, but you’d be wrong as the scales cannot lie. I have come home nearly three pounds heavier. Three pounds! How on earth did that get there? I rode over 150 road miles and did three days mountain biking in the Alps. Yet still managed to synthesize well over a kilogram of lard.
Drastic action was needed, luckily I had taken some before I went away by entering the Three Peaks Cyclocross race in September. Please don’t ask me why? I still can’t fathom it out myself. I’ve never ridden a cyclocross race, I haven’t got a proper cyclocross bike and I wasn’t planning on entering any races at all this year. It just sort of “happened” and I feel a sense of commitment to see it through given that:-
- I’m now really fat so need to train
- it’s massively oversubscribed every year
- it gets me up near Yorkshire where I have a lot of riding to do
- I’ve paid the entry fee
Spurred on by my lardy saddlebags and a clock ticking down to the 25th September I went out to train. The Three Peaks race is basically three stupidly long climbs that can’t be ridden, three stupidly steep descents that can be ridden if you have your own personal ambulance and some stupidly fast sections on the flat. I’m going to be riding it on my singlespeed Pompino, the simple reason being that it is the nearest thing in the fleet to a cyclocross bike. There is an option to purchase a proper cyclocross bike. Actually, there isn’t as I drank that money in France.
So this week I’ve been running up and down hills carrying a Pompino. It’s my first proper training of 2011 and I don’t mind admitting that I’m finding it hard. The sessions go something like this:-
- look mournfully out of the window at the rain whilst drinking tea
- realise it’s not going to stop, attach foam padding to Pompino top tube
- cycle to local “bastard” hill
- run up hill carrying Pompino (this becomes walk after repetition two)
- cling to Pompino as it bounces off rocks and roots at terrifying speed
- repeat ten times, re-inflate rear tyre on repeats 7,8, 9 and 10
On descent number three I hit a rock too hard and bounced the bike all over the place. My water bottle left its holder and fell into the mud. I was hardly in control and managed to brake to a stop nearly 100 metres further down, just as my friends Simon and Pete were climbing the hill on their mountain bikes. I informed them that I’d lost my bottle further up the trail. They advised that this was apparent by my crazed look and what on earth was I doing here on completely the wrong bike?
Put the 26th September in your diary, hopefully the Swindon Evening Advertiser will publish an obituary.
It’s not all been training though, I’ve been getting on with some proper book writing work including some planning. On the left I had the rides I need to complete and to the right a calendar. It was a relatively simple task to transpose the left onto the right and step back in admiration. The result being that all leave has been cancelled in the Barter household and I’ve rung the NHS to see if they can surgically attach a bike.
The ride schedule is tight as hell, leaving no room for inclement weather or injuries. The lack of a proper summer may be distressing to you, but I am now committed to do long rides on average three times a week until the end of November. I really need the jetstream to ping north a bit and deliver an Indian summer. Failing that, the book will be replete with epic photos of riders in so’westers surrounded by clouds.
My stress levels were raised further when I went to the contact lens cupboard and found it was bare. Being slightly blind I need the aid of a few thin slivers of plastic to help me view the road. In holiday-packing-panic I’d forgotten that I was getting low. A call to Vision Express delivered sympathy but a firm dictate that no lenses would be handed over until I’d attended an annual assessment.
An appointment was made for Wednesday, I was quickly shown into a darkened room when a cleavage entered through the door. Now before the women accuse me of feminine debasement, that is exactly what happened. The young, dark haired female optician had dressed in black but left a few buttons undone. In the darkened room, breasts were all I could see and so being a faithful married man I looked straight to the ceiling as she quizzed me on my eyes.
Stress levels went up another level when I realised what was coming next. I was commanded to place my chin on some weird optical device as she knelt below it and stared into my eyes.
“Look left” -ok, no problem with that one
“Look right” - phew there’s a wall
“Look up” - ceiling, seen that one before
“Look down” - arggg no, the tits!!
Blushing, I stared right into her shirt as she stared into my eyes. Surely this was every middle aged man’s fantasy? A young woman inadvertently compelling you to spend lingering seconds oogling her breasts. But it’s not as simple as that. I wasn’t sure if she knew they were on display or exactly what she was asking me to do. I found myself wanting to apologise and explain.
“Sorry, I’m not one of those ageing perverts. Just a bloke who needs some lenses and has been commanded to look at your jugs. They’re very nice by the way, but not in a sexual sense as I’m married you see. To be honest I’d be more comfortable looking at pictures of cars, have you considered some stickers you could maybe apply?”
She appeared oblivious to my predicament and chuntered on about the dryness of my eyes. I suspect this was down to the fact that I’d sweated most of my water out through other pores. I fled Vision Express grasping my bag full of lenses feeling like I’d just walked out of an adult shop. Destiny will catch up with me though, next year I’ll get the bloke with nits and halitosis.
Friday, and I’ve reached the end of week thirty three. It’s not been the most productive of weeks, but post holiday it always seems to be the same mix of frantically sorting out the things you omitted to do before you left. Yet again the shed is full of post-its, paper and well thumbed cycling books as I’m due to get back on the road next week. It’s also my wedding anniversary, sixteen years of married bliss. Well, married bliss for me, Helen has a touch of the “Terry Waite” about her these days. What better way to celebrate our nuptial longevity than a blog post centred around another woman’s breasts?
Next week’s post will probably be penned by my solicitor. But even so, Helen, I love you very much and it’s your fault for being so tolerant that I’m able to spend time writing this guff instead of saluting suits in a proper job.
19th August 2011