Tuesday, 21 January 2014


I've been busy. A sudden demand for my services has seen me working all hours - evenings and weekends to meet a host of deadlines - this blip has left me struggling to find time to ride. And last weekend was the annual Mercia cycling club reliability trial - probably more apt to call it the torture trial - because unless you've found time to prepare, to train, to get some miles into your legs - it is a just that. Anyway, I haven't done the required preparation, plus my work schedule meant I had an unavoidable alibi to cry off. Gary was all geared up to enter, but then he too cancelled, albeit with a proper excuse, his knee has been causing him some grief - best not to aggravate the situation with the haul up Jackson's Bank.

However I did manage a shortish ride on Sunday - my work got to the point where I needed to create a large document for electronic despatch - the processing involved meant I could either sit there watching the little circle spin round - or walk away; or better yet, ride away!

I set off at a reasonable pace. The day had warmed slightly from a frosty start and I made my way along quiet roads towards Market Bosworth. Winter's shutdown is everywhere evident. The verges cloaked in the rich brown hues of fallen leaves, their tones painted by rain's water-colouring artistry and breeze's drying touch. In places there are small branches wind-ripped from trunks and pavements are peppered with muddied acorns, unattractive to the eye but a veritable larder for many creatures in harsher days that may lie ahead. All around, the dark grey bark of wet twigs is enlivened by the subtle grey-greens of the different lichens they have brought down with them. A sphere the size of a tennis ball a little way into the trees catches my eye. It's an interweaving of very soft, fine filaments that lead up to small cups that are fringed with eyelashes, the whole appearing like a colony of linked space satellites surrounded by a web of protective sensors. What is it? - some sort of nest perhaps? or possibly a funghi of some description?

The small wood is saturated. Ditches gurgle with the sound of running water and only the reckless will venture anywhere near the mires and wetlands. In the hedgerows, long yellow catkins sway as they are brushed by the turbulence of passing traffic. Both fungi and catkins make a bold statement. Others may have shut down for the duration. For us, it's business as usual.

Suddenly there're lots of people around - I pass a large group of ramblers - at least thirty I would guess, all togged up against the elements and making a long procession along the pathless road. There are cyclists too - a small group of six or so pass, heading in the opposite direction, everyone, like me, is wrapped up warm.

As I come back round through Bosworth there's a group of cyclists tucking into food, a kind of picnic situation but more extravagant than you might expect of a group of Sunday riders. They have a vast array on display, sandwiches, samosas, scotch eggs, chicken - It's all laid out on a tablecloth, very civilised.  There's been some interesting reports about nutrition in the papers recently. It seems that most of the stuff we have been told, you know, the 'good food, bad food' so called, facts, are wrong. The latest science tells us that beer is great for sports recovery. Vitamin supplements are a waste of time. Eggs are good for us. Orange juice is no better than coca cola. And the list goes on. I'm reading a book by Sean Yates - he would pride himself on riding all day without food or water - at least he didn't need to worry about eating the wrong things. I maintain a healthy diet of micro-brewed beers, salt and vinegar crisps and the occasional chicken madras - once in a while I'll have a go at some vegetables, which makes me feel righteous and of course I ride my bike - and that's about it. I figure if I am suffering from any deficiencies I will know because my gums will bleed and my teeth will fall out, or my legs will bow and snap. After all, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison not balancing his diet with extra vitamins and he lasted until the age of 95. Then there are all those 112 year olds in Southern France who live on nothing but red wine and cheese.

I get home and straight back to work - not even bothering to change - imagine me at the computer dressed in lycra - there's not a minute to lose, deadlines you understand.

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