Best laid schemes oft gang a-right also.

The good news is that the bike was ready for action. As I lifted the solitary item leaned up against it, I’m sure I heard it sigh in an eye-rolling, about-time manner.

Not quite the layers of boxes, tarpaulin, timber, abandoned plastic garden toys and spiders that I recalled. Funny how those little pictures build up in the brain, scenarios expanding and contracting. Proof if it were needed that memory can be contingent and unreliable…

Like, also not remembering to check the weather until exiting the house. Ah, forecast schmorecast, I thought, wiping a stray drop from the screen. Pretty much stopped, hasn’t it? Well, it wasn’t raining at the precise second I left… As I sped off, pedalled and sploshed, I did recall, though, how much I heartily heart being on the bike.

The other good news is, it was chucking it down with some insistence by the time I returned 40 minutes later. Chilly, driving rain, getting fat and slushy… Obviously! So, an elemental giggle at the coincidence of intent and environment ensued. Proper, sock-wringing sodden, endorphin tickled. Just what I was after.

“… the winter’s sleety dribble” indeed!

😁 👍🏼👍🏼

Trudging through it at the moment. It’s a familiar field, with an aspect that’s appealing from a distance revealed closer up to be all morass.

Managed to lighten a persistent glum mood with thirty minutes in the sunshine planting out shallots (the pre-chorus of Livin’ on a prayer playing over and over as I pressed each one into the soil). There’s clearly some unfavourable aspect about the rest of the solar system, though. Must be something in the air. My mind misgives. Unlike the shallots, an orbs-not-quite-in-alignment sort of scenario.

Heh… orbs. While acknowledging and paying respect to the benefit of not feeling like I have to do anything, moments where I am literally talking balls suggest some sort of nudge is required. Like, a proper physical getting out of one’s self…

Not like that though.

Tomorrow morning will be either a run, or retrieving the bike from underneath the stuff that’s been piled up against it in the garage all winter. Actually, given the prevalence of flatness, I’m likely to discover a pair of deflated tyres, so I might as well put the trainers by the door now.

The Kindness of Trees blog has been running an excellent series of cycle-related pieces. There is something really reassuring in the descriptions of bespoke(d) equipment, provenance, history.

Cycling culture, on or off road, is not something of which I have any detailed knowledge. Not the serious ‘as a sport’ aspects, I mean. I’m aware of its importance to millions of people, and I love the abstractions, the sort of chivalric mix of romance and cynicism exemplified by the Tour de France, for example. In 2012 I was diverted by the attention lavished on BBC Sports Personality of the Year and knight-in-waiting national hero Bradley Wiggins. As “Le Gentleman” winner of Le Tour, and Olympic gold, it was a very sunny period for him. With the Mod stylings added in, he can be seen perhaps as an avatar of enthusiasm for retro-styled, oily-handed, but sharp, honesty.

Perhaps. In yet another sport that is tainted by commercial interests, he represents a need for oily-handed honesty, at least. Doing it because it’s it, sort of thing.

So: Two Wheels Good. I’ve loved whizzing about on a bike since as long as I can remember. I got a National Cycling Proficiency Certificate in 1985 and since this legitimation have only looked back over my shoulder to check the oncoming traffic when turning. As mentioned in a previous blog, apparently written by a persona more willing to indulge the semi-colon:

I can’t not cycle, it’s a joyful thing.

I think my true love of cycling comes from very early bezzing about, freewheeling, pretending to be on hover bikes, finding shortcuts to adventures, all the way through to the days of whizzing past traffic in various cities throughout the UK. Working to facilitate the commute. Locomotion for fun.

This winter has been very grey and wet in Yorkshire, one of a number of easy reasons to let my bike sit in the shed waiting for me to go and play. The few times I have ventured out, the winds have been unfavourable and my wrist/shoulder discomfort pronounced. Old man, take a look at yourself. So, part-inspired by The Kindness of Trees, I have shaken off this torpor and am dedicating January to reinvigorating my love of the bike.

With all this in mind, when asked for ‘ideas for Santa’s elves’ (by my mum), what I really wanted were some bar ends. I received with gratitude a pair of Specialized Targa contour grip combis:

This weekend I made time to fit them. That’s them in situ on the bike. There is nothing like a shiny new piece of equipment to help you feel like you’re devoting attention to something. Yet in fitting them I realised how little attention I devote to this ‘truly central’ bit of kit (see Bruce Sterling on ‘truly central’ bits of kit). Here’s the rest of my bike:

It’s a Ridgeback Cyclone. It was bought under the criteria of cost and being able to withstand the rigours of London commuting. I like the lightness, the robustness and the speed. It serves me very well. But, but, looking at it through the camera lens, I was struck by what an ill-treated mongrel it is. Witness this manufacturing mash-up:

That’s actually four different logos visible, I forgot to include the new bar ends. And fair dos, Shimano gears are fairly ubiquitous. The handlebar, however – I’m struggling to identify the brand – was a budget-ish replacement for one that I bent out of shape by interfacing with a tree, cycling home drunkenly. My thighs had a superb handlebar-shaped bruise for about a month after. Moving along, in every sense, we see a lot of corrosion on the stem and a very rusty bell:


…both of which descriptions have me sniggering like Finbarr Saunders in Viz. There’s also corrosion on the forks, from where they’ve been bashed by locks and leanings.

I felt slightly worn myself looking at it. So, I booked it in for a service. During the next few months, I intend to replace all worn parts and get it looking cared for again. And in the spirit of promoting the notion of ‘two wheels good’, I shall post some regular cycle-related updates.

This was my inaugural bike ride of 2013:
About 14km

Sorry about the squinty image, you can click to see it larger. Along the yellow line, taking in Hob Moor, Cycle Heaven on Bishopthorpe Road, then a turn round York City Wall, then back via Clifton Moor, was about 14km.

Just a short one, I’m still feeling the mince pies a bit. Very, very satisfying to be back in the saddle, though. Fnarr! Fnarr!