Whistling through the spokes.

10°C, strong W, gusts to 45mph.

Cycling (twice) and indoor climbing.


Two rides today. One at dawn, the other at dusk. Both dry and very windy. No less fun though; at times, the road speed dipped so I did some sprints after the 10 miles warmup.

In-between, I took the kids climbing. They did some Grade 4 and 5s on the auto-belay. I haven’t used one before and found them less easy to trust than a person on belay. There is no speed control when abseiling back down. The device works like an inertia-reel seatbelt. The speed it releases is fixed, a little faster than my taste (and my inexperience).
I felt so rusty too, even my grip was marginal at times! Now, where is that grip exerciser thing? Also, I needed a refresher on rope handling, which came back very quickly. Next time, I will go by myself and hire shoes and consider buying a pair.

This morning’s outing included a severe buffeting by wind which at times whistled through the spokes. Deep section rims are a problem in strong cross-winds, there is a lot of correction to random steering shifts. On the Mustang bike, the rims are even deeper than the ones the fixed gear bike has.

My hopes for cycling this year are to develop stamina as good as 10 years ago. Coverall, a satisfying day.

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Virtual reality; a demo.

With time to kill and shopping to do, I needed a break after an hour. Remember how much I detest clothes shopping? Since it was early, the staff in PC World were happy to give a demo of virtual reality gaming.

Using a Sony PS4, and a sci-fi racing game and the headset (pictured) we went ahead. I know there is always a process of setting up and customising kit as there were problems to overcome. Here is a list with starting with the least significant:

  • Sound: harsh and loud,
  • The game, frantic and stressful,
  • Blurring, and chromatic aberration,
  • Vertigo, felt as dizziness.

I think the game was called Wipeout. What a ridiculous cartoon game for children. I had to stop before the round was over with my head spinning and stressed. The fault may lie with the game, a flight simulator usually has a clear horizon line. In Wipeout, the banked track as the bit that made me dizzy.

I’d better not be too dismissive until I’ve tried a proper flight simulator. From what the staff said, it sounds like the focus on this console is arcade games. That’s not encouraging for me.

More interesting would be a similar setup that enables players to explore virtual worlds. Surely, it must be possible with current technology to generate a procedural planet and populate it with user content. Better still, one that we players can create scenes, buildings, vehicles and objects.
There would be a way to get back into 3DS Max and build a world, maybe with the Unity engine. What fun to make a familiar building but with hidden secrets.

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The fizz is back

8°C, light grey with minimal breeze NW. Dry too.


Okay, not very fast but the important point is – it felt right.

It’s funny how you can actually feel warmth at 8°C after days near to freezing. Some of this is the benefit of acclimatisation, some is not running the heating at home too high. I’m sure that people who live in hot houses feel cold more when outside.

Sunset was just, just perceptibly later today.

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Oops, I did it again.

7°C, fog.

Following that experience in the early week, I have yet to return to cycling. I rode a meer 25 miles and felt dreadful by the end. The last few days, I cracked on with the decorating. The hall is half done and you can see where it’s going.

Once more, stripping off wallpaper revealed loose plaster; this time, right next to the front door.

The underlying bricks have a fault, there in a crack in the mortar which now needs attention from outside. I wonder whether this fault it caused by slamming the front door. The door is a tight fit in the frame this winter. Perhaps it does this every winter when it’s damp.

Another item for the to-do list; plane the door down to give clearance.

Later, I’ll ride. The legs are fizzing again.

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It can only get better

8°C, light W, dull and dry.


January is possibly the most miserable month of the year, but things can only get better. January is in competition with December, mainly because December contains the detestable Christmas stress fest.

Anyway, today I dragged out the fixie, dragged it over to the coast by dragging round the cranks. That wasn’t an easy ride despite the distance.

For all these decades of cycling, I’ve had a rule of thumb for warm-ups. It usually takes me 8 miles or half an hour to warm-up, whichever comes first.
After that stage, everything loosens up and I can ride all day. In previous years, when I rode long rides more often, there seemed to be another threshold too. Two hours in is usually a good time to take a break, maybe have a snack or even a cafe stop. The next stage could be really long, taking up to 70 or even as much as 90 miles. It was this phase that average speed was highest. Today was not a day like that.

Today, that threshold didn’t really pass. I decided after 10 miles, to ride home.

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Gloomy on the bike

3°C still, grey, dry and cold


Everything I hate about january was found today. The worst feature was the dark, the day never really broke out of twilight all day.
At least the bike was good though the front mudguard gummed up with black mud. There may be room to adjust the stays. Dry mud is worse as it doesn’t wash out so easily.

Anyway, that’s the first ride of the year on the Arrow which is now regarded as a winter bike. It lay in storage last winter while I bought a house so there are minor faults from 2 years ago that I’d forgotten about. The chain is too short and a few other minors like the mudguard rubbing.

I have an idea for a change of handlebars too. The gravel bike can have new flared bars and its bars can refit onto the Arrow.

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2019, ride no. 1

8°C, sunny with N breeze.


Very slow but no setback. Sometimes, when you return from illness you can undo some of the recovery but coming back too soon. By taking a flat route at a slow pace, I have avoided that.

The annual mileage for 2018 is only 3,600 which is lower than last year by 1,000. 400+ was lost to illness, 500 lost to DofE work.

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Major Chestikov.


Ill again. It started during this ride home from work. Shame because I was looking forward to it. The route that runs along farm tracks in the dark is quite an experience. If it wasn’t for the rain, it would have been a photo opportunity.

Was it worse because of the rain? Maybe, and getting cold at the end. The worst came after I got home. When it came to putting the bike away, the sky opened with a deluge. Anyway two nights followed with hot and cold flushes, no strength and a hacking brittle cough. The annoying bit is the brief time since the last heavy cold.

Five days later, I’m still laid up in bed. The cough remains as do the hot & cold flushes. This is definitely influenza.

13 days later, it’s just about gone

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Cassandra Millar: Just So

CD from Another Timbre. Contemporary Music performed by a string ensemble. Unusually, I didn’t find this one via Hear And Now on BBC R3 but a mid-week show on the same station Late Junction.

The pieces that attracted me arenthe seriesnthat make up Warblework. The four sections that make up Warblework are developed from recordings of songbirds, specifically Thrushes. The tunes are very complex and somewhat atonal to my ear. The recordings in this set seem to have all the ingredients of music that will last for extended listening. It’s a feeling of a puzzle to solve.

You my listen to this and find yourself listening to birds in a new way. It’s a shame though that Thrushes are so rare in England now. They were quite common when I was a child. So common that they were one of the first birds I learnt to identify. Thrushes and sparrows are now quite scarce, especially the former. Much of the decline is attributed to slug pellets that gardeners use. Poisoned slugs poison the birds that feed on them. Not enough people know this. Dig a pond instead!

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Angry in the letters page.

A letter to my local paper:

Whilst I can sympathise with letter writer Michael Swann’s plea for cars (#1a) to consider cyclists when they are coming out of side roads, can I ask him and other cyclists to also take some responsibility when they are on the road?

Several issues spring to mind but my main frustration is the fact that extremely few cyclists have mirrors on their handlebars. Years ago, a cyclist would not think of going on the road without one on either side.

How else can you see when you are contemplating moving out? #2

The responsibility for taking care in is situation appears to rest solely on the shoulders of the car driver.

Another annoyance are those cyclists that ride on a main road when there are clearly marked cycle paths next to the road. This frequently happens on the coastal road travelling toward the Formby Bypass. #3

Can I also ask the many cyclists who go straight through red lights to please follow the Highway Code? It applies to you too! #4

Catherine Marland, Southport


#1a: cars don’t think.

#1/ I am old enough to remember kids proudly riding Raleigh Choppers which actually did come with 2 handlebar mirrors. They were trying to look like motorbikes. Nobody else used mirrors on a bike, there was never a time when mirrors were the norm for cyclists.

Personally, I’d never trust the narrow view from such a tiny porthole that a bike mirror provides. I don’t use a mirror because I value my safety.

#2: For those few who don’t know, mirrors are rarely fitted because there is a far more effective method – look over your shoulder! I can’t tell why Catherine didn’t think of that.

Most of us have a neck with 12 vertebrae which is a biological feature that allows us to turn our heads.

#3 that particular track is very narrow and lumpy there is no passing space for incoming bikes. Imagine driving on a single-track lane but without any passing spaces!

#4 just like car drivers always do?

I never jump red lights but there are many who assume we all do. Those assumptions are wrong.

You specify cyclist who go straight through red lights; presumably you accept those who turn left on a red light (as done legally in the USA).

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