Sunday, May 31, 2009

OUTING: Dating agent

You'll do for our mate, you will.
How old are you? That's a good age.
What do you do? Oh, that's alright.
Are you single?
Do you have kids?
You'll do for our mate. Don't you think so Lil?
She'd like you.
How old are you?
You might do for me.
Our friend will like you.
What do you do again?
Can I have your number? I'll give it to our friend.
She'd like you.
How old are you?

CYCLING: Bug's strife

Cyclists eat more than their fair share of bugs. It goes without saying.

Two lbs an average pedestrian's year according to Catherine.

A failed operation to persuade my face to breathe through nose and not mouth has left me even more susceptible.

I would say I eat two or three insects a saddled week.

But beware... turning to look at Downland views can worsen matters.

You may not know but they’re a lot harder to get out of one’s ear hole, ill equipped as we are to gag or cough through them.

And, to make matters worse, I discovered this week, whereas the struggles of swallowed bug manifest at worse in a throaty tickle and the icky thought of what you’ve done, in the ear you experience winged animal panic at high volume.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

CYCLING: Sets for the soul

The sun was waiting for us at seven fifteen as it seems to do in April, positioned precicely between two Downland bushes.

We turned behind The Downs Golf Club's par five second, puffing, and there, see?, millions and millions of miles away, but in the exact same place it had been yesterday and the day before, at the exact same time.
How does it do that?

Good evening, it said.
We agreed and said thank you.

It had been busy laying out a feast too; stretching, as the valley did, to East Dean and northwards to Jevington, cast in gold.

And weirdly, we noted, no queue.
Are there honestly better things to be doing with your life? Are there two sun sets going on in Hampden Park?


Have people forgotten
What a sunset can do
For the soul which is suffering
As ours tend to

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

CYCLING: Six sunny days say spring

The sunset is back the right side of clocking off and all of a sudden, in the space of a week and no more, this corner of southern England is awoken.

Amongst watch and phone adjustments and the very occasional sale at work, three bikers are jubilant – to us at least, more than anyone else has cause to be.

The sun may be here, but we’re the ones who’ve earned it.

Months of greyness, slippery track, leaves and roots, frozen fingers in districts of peaks and the ever-present threat of frosty half an hour in the back garden with the hose and one’s bike, are gone. Gone in the kind of way which makes you unsure they were ever here.

But here they were. They fought us body and soul. They lost. And now, and in this week of elemental surrender, it is sweetest. The spoils are all ours.

We’re fit, we’re strong, we’re giddy.

Dan’s full of cold, but that aside, it’s perfect.

As our comrade recovers Neil and I have peddled over the Downs from Old Town – up the tarmac escarpment like it wasn’t there – and around our 45-minute loop in ten minutes less than last summer – five of the last seven evenings.

Just then, between those paragraphs, we did it again, for the sixth.

The sixth sunset over East Dean, Friston and Jevington. The SIXTH in six days. Literally, beat that? Ha.

I sit here sweating delight, sweating glee. I’m sweating the prospect of the months ahead.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cycling: Lewes/Alfriston loop (part II)


Later the ground fell. Our wheels went too but Alfirston caught us with its familiar frown.

It handed us each a pasty, sent us around the corner and told us not to come out until it was time to leave, we were making the place look untidy.

It's a village so focused on being beautiful it's forgotten to have fun - forgotten what life is surely about. There are cold shoulders on every corner, behind endless counters and bars.

The pasties were unimaginably good though. Guilt free buttery pastry and red meat. Reason enough to take up biking. We washed them down with Oreos from the same magical, time-locked shop (personed by sour face youngster) and slipped out of our side street and away, being sure not to disturb the po-faced people inside their diamond encrusted homes.

Refuelled we all sped up to the top of the Old Coach Road and began the flatter ride home. Poor Phil was suffering equally with bum and lung.

Every incline, even slight, is so hard, he confessed.
I feel I'm holding you up.

Suddenly aware how far we'd come we congratulated and comforted and directed to the pub at Firle.
My man, you should be proud... go and drink away the good, as is tradition, we both said in less poetic phrase.

He went with it agreeing to do his best to conform.

We did pick up the pace for a mile, but then road became path, stile and ploughed field. It appeared the makers of the Old Coach Road to Lewes may have stopped off at the same pub as Phil and never started again.

But a friendly car washer put us right and soon, after a ploughed field which would have red carded us a week earlier, we were in Beddingham.

It's back over the downs or the main road towards Newhaven mate, I said to Dan, who sees A roads as I see passenger aeroplanes.
Taking our chances with the freight we held our breath for a mile or so and survived to tell Phil how little he'd missed.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cycling: Lewes/Alfriston loop

Sorry Phil.

I'm almost dead here and you two don't seem to be even breathing hard.
There is little as sweet sounding to the cyclist's ear, as a yard stick to your own fitness, than a hyperventalating mate.

It's your first time for an age fella... and you're bike weighs a ton...
Was my glee detectable?

I'm not terribly fit.
I still have to sub off every minute and a half during tougher hockey games.
But Phil kindly showed, as we tickled the foot of the Downs near Lewes, that hard winter work pays off.

As it happens, up top, there was more than a suggestion winter was fading.
The trudgery of a week or so ago seemed no more. Perhaps not just temporarrily either. There was a permenance to the ground's firmness and it made for riding unriveled in months.

For two at least the ups were painless and the downs delirious.

What's that paraglider doing standing on a post?, asked Dan as hobbiests all over the Beacon struggled with the calm.
It's hardly going to make any diff...
We watched as, balance lost, he tumbled off and was saved from a bump by the gentlest of breezes. He was up. And I laughed at the timing.

Behind the glider was a view worth putting the effort in for.

Prodominant greenscale mixed with mist on the Wield in the middle distance. We could see the Old Coach Road, our route home, but soon, before its parallel main road replacement of a centuary later, the curtain came down.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CYCLING: Beacon to Butt on chock and nut

Sorry for the absense.
It’s not like there hasn’t been guilt.

Since last time there are some new things in my life... things which may or may not be to blame.
1. Twitter.
2. Twice the work

I’ve been biking. Not as much, but enough to keep the legs strong enough for a 20-miler from Glynde back to the Bourne a week past.

I got up the hill to Firle Beacon in sixth. This’ll mean nothing to anyone, but I like saying it.

Then, accompanied with endless Downland views towards southern sea and distant city to the north, we went very slowly down until Littlington.

Some of it was so thick with gluey mud it was like peddling up. But most was windless and wondrous.
We snuck into West Dean to avoid Friston’s muddy tracks and popped out the other side before it awoke.

Genius, I said to myself, as we stumbled fortuitously upon the gentle fire road to the top of a meadow above Jevington. And Genius I said to Dave as we remembered he had one more Snickers bar to power three of us up the last hill...

But the back path up Butt’s Brow’s butt beat us all... and would have done even if my bike wasn’t stuck on the middle rung. We were spent and rolled into Old Town and onto respective beds almost without stopping to get off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama has it easy

My word, I've a lot on.
I went to the Peak District; you may have noticed.
I'll get it down soon. I took notes.

I have memories preserved in ice.

Bike Club Challenge has stalled too under the weight of New Year publishing stress.
But I am determined to get back on the trail.

Obama became President today.
The ceremony cost £1.2m.
And 32,000 soldiers guarded proceedings.
2m watched, the live eyes of 83% of Americans who are happy about it.

He's got to sort out Gaza, Iran, the economy of the entire world and not getting himself shot.

And I thought I was busy.

Monday, January 05, 2009

CYCLING: Poshing it up in the Peaks

Dan's blagged two posh hotels for the coming Peak District trek - the first Bike Club tour and no less.

It's just as well because the forecast for the rest of this week is sub zero.
No cold hostels for us. Not that we know fear, you understand. We are adventurers. And if we're not, we're quite, quite stupid - which, if it isn't the same is similar enough for most people not to notice.

In any case, here's to the power of the good name Time Out and Dan's cheek.

Even on the south coast the first weekend of 09 was determined to make itself notable by a heat shortage. A 20 miler at minus two gave us a reassuring insight... Well, we made it at least.

We'll breeze past the not-being-able-to-stand-for-the-rest-of-the-day issue. We'll stroll on by the ten-miles-less-than-the-shortest-of-next-weekend's-rides niggle.
We'll assume it won't rain. Prey for similarly still conditions... atop some of England's proudest lumps.

Adventure is nothing without challenge.
What's a middlands mountain bike holiday in January?

(Apologies for two lazy Peak headlines)

Friday, January 02, 2009

CYCLING: Festive unfitness Peaks at the wrong time

The Pennines are a week away and I've let myself go rather.
I'm filled with excitement and fear... and turkey and cheese.
And wine. Mostly wine.

But at least the four-day trip will be a kick start to the New Year.
Three January days in the saddle cycling up some of our country's most challenging hills. That's a resolution in itself.

You'll freeze, said Jane.
You're joking, said Dad.
Can't fucking wait, said Dan.
My thoughts lie somewhere in between the three... but I'm gripping Dan's enthusiasm with both gloved hands as if hurtling down Friston's steepest slope on an icy morning... with one eye shut.

On New Year's eve, by way of preparation, we got up at seven and went for a cloudy dawn ride over the Downs, to Butt's Brow and back along some fabulous single track. A small loop I was doing with both eyes shut in the summer.
It hurt - a lot.

Conditions were perfect; the patchy frost hardening the turf to cheat winter out of the year's last muddy morning. Even the irksome tree roots called a truce and let us through.
I wish my physical condition had allowed me to appreciate it more fully.

The last three days have been beautiful up here, said my friend.
It's a shame today is so dull.
I thought, you've been up here for three days in a row?!
Only one of us may return from the Pennines.


Bike Club news:
  • Two new members: Dave and Phil.
  • Two new bikes: Bought from the tip for two pounds each... with the aim of fixing up and reselling. May be highly optimistic but will give us something to work on, I figured.
  • One new frame: Also from the tip - cost £6... reason, not sure. Impulse?
  • See link left for news on Trike to Bike challenge... the Trike has arrived and will also be preened at tonight's meeting for first challenge resell.