LEJOG postponed…life gets in the way

Right – the reason I started this blog was to document my preparation for LEJOG and also to document the journey itself. However, I have had to put my plans on hold as Life has taken a few twists and turns since I came up with the idea.

Firstly; I will be moving house soon. Moving 310 miles up the road. Returning to Scotland. I’ve been away for 10 years and it’s been too long; I only meant to stay in England a month…

Secondly; I need a new job. A lot of people will think me slightly touched dans la tete for resigning from a ‘perfectly good’ public service job in this current situation of redundancies and cut-backs. But I have to change job – this one is just NOT ME. I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t get out of this situation.  As soon as I’m safely out of there, I will be able to expand a little on that.

Thirdly; I just don’t have the money this year to do a trip like this. Between moving house and losing two thirds of our joint income (partner forced out of job earlier) there is nothing spare.

Hence, the LEJOG journey will have to wait. I’ll do it one day. In the meantime, I hope I’ll be using this blog to document my more small-scale ventures. Next up is a short cycle trip from South Glasgow to Edinburgh, then over the Forth to the Kingdom of Fife. Next weekend, all being well! I have changed my bike’s riser handlebars for ‘butterfly’ style touring ones. I’m pretty sure they’re not meant to be installed the way I have put them on, (they look v weird!) but after much tinkering this was the comfiest position. 66 miles should tell me whether this will work long-term. I still need grips for them, but have posted before and after pics below:

THE OLD SET-UP – the way the bike has been for the past 16 years.

THE NEW SET-Up – yes it looks weird; I’ve probably put them on back to front and upside down…but it seems comfortable!

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Enforced Rest (boohissboo)

 

nocycling

...or indeed running

I haven’t run or cycled since doing the half marathon a few weeks ago. I can’t. I physically cannot run. And the chiropractor has banned me from cycling for the foreseeable. Until my wonky pelvis and feet are sorted, which may, nay inevitably will take some time…

 

As far as I understand it, I have a wonky pelvis and a left collapsed arch. This is causing all sorts of bother and discomfort.  So I’m seeing a chiropractor, which is just about bankrupting me – and have been advised it’s imperative I get referred to a sports podiatrist so I can have some proper orthotics made.  I will be interested to see how my GP responds to this request; my last GP obviously thought of running as some sort of luxurious commodity; the “medical” advice he gave was ‘stop running then‘. Akin to a mechanic telling you to stop driving your car, if the steering starts acting up. Or perhaps refrain from eating if all food makes you barf. If it hurts your eyes to read, stop reading. I wasn’t surprised at this approach; on asking for help previously with severe hayfever, I was advised to “buy a car, like a BMW or a Mercedes; one that has good pollen filters” and that was it. I now have a different GP.

It’s weird not physically being capable of running; I was forced into an exaggerated gait yesterday to avoid being run over (what would have previously been a quick jog across the road) and I was in pain for hours afterwards. 4 metres across the road. That was all.

So no running or cycling. I don’t think people quite understand how difficult this is; partly I have been relying on my bike to commute at least twice a week and therefore cut my weekly expenditure. Not just that, but now I turn up to work sleepy, grumpy and clumsy – albeit with tidy hair. When I cycle, I arrive alert, happy and energized; the only grump related to Bloody Stupid Motorists. And I have sweaty bike-helmet hair (but I don’t care).

Without running, I have no reason to catapult out of bed, no opportunity to listen to random playlists  on my ipod and no excuse to wear lycra. The result is I have been quite low. I stay in bed until the need to go to work and/or use the loo is too urgent.

My chiropractor suggested I powerwalk, but this is too uncomfortable and I will feel like an utter pillock. At least when running and the feral chav kids shout abuse you are out of earshot pretty quickly; there is always the option of running away.

I haven’t been blogging due to this lethargy. I knew if I was let loose on a keyboard then this is what would happen – a general moan and feel-sorry-for-myself-fest which I can’t imagine anyone is going to feel good about reading. So I will stop now. And I probably won’t be writing again until I’m fixed.

 

 

 

Cycling proficiency

I never sat my “cycling proficiency test” at school (I think I was off that week), but even if I had I doubt it would have made much difference to how I cycle nowadays. Unfortunately, I find cycling on roads to be a real dilemma when it comes to rules and regs, overwhelmingly because I am very aware of my own vulnerability as a cyclist.
Having read this post from the BBC on women and cycling road accidents, I started paying more attention to the way I cycle on the road.
Chatting with a non-cyclist colleague recently, the comment was made that a lot of cyclists seemed really “arrogant” on the road. I knew what she meant, and explained that it’s probably because cyclists know that if there were to have a collision with a motorist then they are undoubtedly going to be worse off. What could be a ‘near miss’ (is that a ‘hit’ then… I digress) for a motorist could quite easily be a fatal accident to a cyclist. It’s every cyclist’s prerogative to ride like an bombastic egotist if that is going to reduce the risk of being killed or injured. It’s the cyclist’s defence, just as motorists have airbags, seatbelts and a metal cage to protect them. When you look at it like that, it’s not a good trade-off in terms of safety.

Now I’m not talking about those people on bike who charge on and off the kerb, jump red lights “because they can” and weave in an out of lane markers, pedalling with such furious abandon that they leave a string of (rightly) irate road-users in their path. No – those guys (sorry – never seen a girl ride like that), are eejits.

I suppose the way I ride to work is kinda “blokey” in style – I refuse to apologise for being on the road and I do everything I can to prevent motorists from overtaking me into on-coming traffic. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to dirty looks (and worse!) from the driver, even when what I’ve just done by riding another whole foot out from the kerb is save their Citroen Saxo from becoming permentantly enmeshed with a Rover 215. There’s gratitude for you. (Oh dear, this post is fast degenerating into a rant..soz). I usually comfort myself by muttering “Did you pay for someone to sit your test for you?!” into their exhaust fumes.

So I try to ride as confidently as possible, without taking unnecessary risks, in the hope that it will keep me alive (along with the abundance of reflective tape, hi-vis and flashing lights). But I’m still not clear-cut on a few issues. Is is acceptable to undertake stationary traffic at the lights? Is it safe? What about pavements when the road conditions are too risky? (There is a section on my home commute where I ride on the pavement at night. If there wasn’t any pavement there, I doubt I would commute at all – I don’t want to ride on a 60mph unlit road on a blind left-hand bend going up a very steep incline thanks). I’m a bit of a goody-goody when I’m behind the wheel – I tend to always obey the highway code and I rarely speed. Things just aren’t so simple on a bicycle. I’m not about to stick rigidly to the rules if it will compromise my safety. I reckon when you ride a bike, you have to revise your own highway code. The existing one just doesn’t work in reality.

Potholes

Potholes are annoying and dangerous for cyclists;  especially in or after heavy rain when they can look like harmless puddles – I’m not going to rant about it here because it’s self-explanatory. I discovered this brilliant website today : http://www.fillthathole.org.uk from CTC (the UK National Cyclist’s Association). It uses simple forms and a map so you can quickly report potholes in the road (it even works out which local authority to send the info to).  The particular tarmac-abberation which was the target of my wrath today managed to throw me forward into my handlebars last week and bruise myself. Nasty, bad pothole.

Welcome to the UK, where your road tax goes towards creating death-traps like this...

Welcome to the UK, where your road tax goes towards creating death-traps like this...

My wheels

So heavily laden the tree next to it started bending...

So heavily laden the tree next to it started bending...

I’ve got a pretty old bike. It was a present for my 16th birthday, so yeah – pretty old! It’s a Ridgeback 920sx Urban Series – basically a hybrid designed for commuting. Normal pedals; haven’t been convinced by clipless yet, but that may change.

It hasn’t got disc-brakes or carbon-fibre forks or titanium rims and I’m still running on the original City Slicker II tyres (although they are getting a *leeeetle* perished around the edges and I should probably replace them).

The picture is from my first long-distance cyle trip in May 2009, fully laden. I fitted a front pannier rack to accommodate all those extra pairs of (unneccessary) socks/pants.  I’ve got front and rear lights from Halfords, cheap and not-waterproof panniers, an 8-function cycle computer (Halfords again) and a rather lovely saddle by Velo. The saddle is a ladies-specific one, with a hole for increased, err… ventilation. (TMI – sorry).

Just the one bottle cage (need to add another somewhere), but I have a BRILLIANT old-skool bicycle bell that is even older than the bike. It’s one that goes *BRRINGG BRRRINGGG!* That was bought from Jeanstown Stores, Lochcarron, 1989. It work better than just shouting  ” Get out of the way! ” It probably weights about 1kg, but it’s staying.

So, the bike is old, heavy, not designed for long-distance and showing signs of damage from when my Dad borrowed it to come back from the pub and performed a spectacular face-plant into the gutter.  Perfect.