Riding: Noises.

Five years on, and I still haven’t learned how to not concentrate on that clicking sound. It’s not the same one by the way, it’s not even on the same bike. Noises come, noises go, but I still fret over every one. I am doing something that should be relaxing, I should be able to blot this out, goodness knows I ride with some people that can complete ignore the much worse noises their bikes make on rides. So why do I let it bug me so much?

When I last wrote about that clicking sound, I didn’t work in the bike trade but was only months away from doing so. Whilst I’m not a bike mechanic, I still get to get my hands dirty every now again and still get to talk to customers about noises their bikes are making. In my head I sound more frustrated than they do. I’m certainly not saying that I either care more, or that my own bike matters more than there’s, but it bothers me so much. In the grand scheme of things I have really easy access to a mechanic, and can get a discount on any parts that I would require, is it really shouldn’t matter as much as it does.

Reading back what I wrote last time it seems like I was enjoying the puzzle of trying to work out what it was, but I don’t feel like that any more. Which suggests then that it’s me, not the clicking, that the problem is me… so how do I fix that…?

Again with the spoilers.

Being spoiled by news outlets and websites is one thing, but when it is by a film or television’s own marketing department that is something else entirely. It comes across as being either desperate, or clumsy, and I’m not certain which is worse.

The latest season of Doctor Who has just finished. The last two episodes were two of the best episodes there have been in quite a while. However, they would have been so much stronger, the penultimate one especially, if we hadn’t been shown who was going to be in them. To make matters worse, they revealed two different advisories. They’ve kept big secrets before, so I have no idea why they chose not to this time. It was said in the press that the BBC had to announce one of them as it had been leaked by a newspaper. The newspaper however hadn’t found this out, they had been shown it by the BBC. I cannot fathom why. So in the build up episode for the finale it’s clear that those poor things there are going to be ***** (not the right amount of asterisks on purpose), and when are we going to see *****? If they would have left it to you you to figure out the first, then it would have been unlikely that you would have expected another reveal never mind guessed what or who it was.

It is disappointing that this happened, and in this instance I don’t know if it was the BBC or the production team themselves that was at fault here. The production team definitely made an unusual misstep with the entire 8th episode, The Lie of the Land, specifically however the fake regeneration. The only purpose of which it appears to serve is to have in the trailers. It’s been announced that Capaldi is leaving, so the Doctor will regenerate, we don’t necessarily need to see it. Not least a fake one. It also didn’t need to be in that episode. None of the characters knew what a regeneration looks like, so it was entirely for us. Which again, takes something away from the last two episodes.

To be continued…

Running: What is it for?

A long time ago I ran through town. I have no idea idea why. Later Mighty told some of our friends that I had such a funny run, and that I run just like Alan Partridge. Now, I didn’t think Alan Partridge had a funny run. I’ve watched it since to check, and I still don’t. So what’s so funny about the way I run? Is this the reason that I don’t like running, and that it hurts my legs for days? I must be doing it wrong.

Running does hurt me, and I just can’t do it. I’m out of breath immediately, and my legs remind me that I have run for at least a week afterwards. Granted I do know that if I were to stick with it I would find it easier, but I’m not sure that want to. My sister both run, and I have some friends that regularly take part in Park Runs. Looking at some of the runs they have posted on social media, I think that I am capable of covering the distances they are doing. There is no hope however that I would be able to talk them whilst doing one, or anyone else afterwards go that matter. I also don’t then want to be reminded for the next week that I went on a run by my own legs. I’ll just stick with the riding.

Riding: A love of dirt.

Cycling for me now, is a very clean affair. My bike not only doesn’t get dirty, it doesn’t really even get wet. Long gone are the days that I would have to spend just as long cleaning my bike as I had done riding. Having to put my shoes in the washing machine with the rest of my riding kit, just to get them clean again (mum, if you’re reading this, I didn’t really do this). I do not miss any of this in the slightest. What I do miss though, was the reason for all of that first being there in the first place.

I bought my first mountain bike when I was 15, and then my first proper mountain bike a year later. I then never looked back. Every weekend would be spent out riding in the countryside, looking for new tracks, looking to escape, and then home for tea. It’s not that the aim was to get dirty, but that’s where the fun was. Putting yourself, and your bike, in conditions that you could just about get away with. Right on the limit of what either of you could do. As my love for this increased, so did the amount of time I would dedicate to it. I would go out a few evenings a week, scouting out tracks and trials in the town itself. As my bike skills improved, and bikes became more capable of taking bigger impacts, then hunting out steps and drops. I pushed myself until things broke. It was great… but also expensive. One thing that was free however, was getting to meet and become friends with like-minded fools. I’m still friends with now, people that I met in some woods once. There always seemed to be great sense of camaraderie, and having fun was easy. There were no clubs, no rules, no fretting about… stuff that should really matter at all. We’d meet up, ride, stand around and talk rubbish, and then ride some more.

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After I flunked out of Uni I went on a riding holiday in Greece. I went on my own, hadn’t met any of the others before, it totally didn’t matter. By lunchtime on the first day, we could have been riding with each other for years. We all spent that evening together, and then every evening afterwards. On our rest days, we all went riding some more. We all only had one thing in common, and it bound us together, our love of dirt.

Riding: 0921/2500

I’ve been plagued with back problems (which turned out to be leg problems) this year, so I am way behind on my riding target of 2500 miles. So we’ve gotten just over half the way through the year and I’ve so far only ridden 921 miles. What I hadn’t done yet this year, until last weekend, is to do something that I did a few times last autumn, which really helped with mileage, I rode with the club.

It wasn’t only for health reasons that I hadn’t ridden with the club since December, but that I hadn’t really enjoyed it. I had previously questioned weather it was that group of riders, or the pace that the club rides at that I had an issue with, and how do I “find a club that I do feel that I fit into, and does embrace why I ride?”

My sister asked me on Twitter had I “thought about setting up your own club? I bet there are others who feel the same as you.” Well… I had, but “I don’t like the feeling of having to ride. I like riding when I want to, and I’m not sure if I would when I had to.” We used to have an mountain bike club at work, and I really didn’t enjoy having to to go out and ride with them if I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I have never had the constitution to force myself to exercise, which is why I never go to gyms, but I don’t think it’s a laziness thing.

I had heard the club discussing the rides they were going on. Some of them were saying they had a medium-fast and a medium group, with others disagreeing and saying what they had were two fast groups. Either way, over the weeks that followed, they appeared to not be changing how they rode. However, I then ended up talking to one of them at work when he had come into have his bike fixed. I knew he was in the ‘two fast groups’ camp, is I suggested that you ignore the pace label and start a group ride called the social ride. It does ride at a slower pace, covers less distance, and if we see nice cafe or pub, we stop at it. His face lit up, and at the next club meeting he suggested it. The first one was last Saturday, and it was great. The atmosphere was better, it felt more like going for a ride with friends and less like forced fun. Ironically, checking Strava afterwards, it turns out that the group had only ridden 0.1mph slower than the other group. We’d ridden at 17.6mph, covered 43 miles, but stopped in he middle for coffee and cake. So we then arrived back at the shop just 15 minutes before the other group that had ridden 22 miles further than we had. It was by far the best club ride that I’d been on, and not just because of the cake, but the fact that we got talk more and take a look around to see where we were. If the social ride continues, then so will I.

Telling stories: The Man in the car park, and the old lady on the train.

In my last post I’d mentioned that I don’t think that I’m very good at telling stories. I know a good story when I hear one, and I know from the seeds with which they are sewn. But I just don’t seem to be able to do it. It might be a self conscious thing, and having second thoughts about being the centre of attention… sentences after I’ve started telling one. It’s maybe what I find interesting, just simply isn’t. Perhaps it’s that the way I come across in what I choose to tell as a bit of a Gifford (like in the Drunk Batman post). Or, it could just be the way I tell ’em. Whatever the reason is, I feel that I fail. 99% of the time my stories fall flat. What follows is that remaining 1%. The only time everything seemed to work. First off however, I am going to have to tell you a story about my dad: My dad doesn’t really talk a lot. He’s a man of few words, but has a fantastic sense of humour. He once told me that whilst waiting in his car for my mum, whilst she did the weekly shop, and a man in a Range Rover pulled up next to him. It was on the wonk, across two car park spaces, “and this was a busy day. I couldn’t believe it. He turned the engine off, and got out. I thought ‘you can’t leave it like that?’ but he did. He closed the door, and then turned round. Urgh. He was all hanging out of the back of his jeans, like a builder, but he didn’t pull them up. Then he just walked off. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to think… and then I wrote a note.”

“To who?”

“To him. I stuck it under his windscreen wiper.”

“What did it say?”

“Your car fits in that space like your arse fits in your trousers.”

“What happened when he came back?”

“I moved the car and went and met your mum.”

I couldn’t believe it. Not that what he’d done what he’d done. That is my dad all over. But that he’d not waited around to see the others man reaction. I loved this story. It really made me laugh, and over the next few weeks I told it to a couple of friends and people that I worked with. Then, one Friday I found myself on a busy train on the way home from work. Standing room only. A real joyless occasion. And then an old lady barged her way past me…

The train was just coming past the football ground and I had made my way to the end of the carriage, when this little old lady barged past me and then huffed. I’m not a monster, clearly I was in her way, so I tried my best to stand to one side of the walk way. She then did it again, walking back into the carriage, and then again coming the other way. ‘I couldn’t believe it’. She huffed each time she did it, and then stood directly in front of me. Not only had she barged past, she’d now pushed in and taken my place in the queue to get out. Had she not been an old lady, I would have said something. Still, ‘what’s her problem?’ When the doors opened people started to get off the train, but when it was the old ladies turn she turned round and asked if I could give her a hand with big plastic box that was next to the doorway.

“Of course.” I’m not a monster, she’s an old lady. I picked up the pretty heavy box and followed her onto the platform. Without turning around, she walked over to someone who had been waiting for her and started talking to them. I stood there with the box. They carried on talking. ‘I could put it down, but then neither of them look like they’d be able to pick it back up.’

“Excuse me.” Still, they talked, the old lady didn’t look round. I could believe it. ‘I don’t know what to think.’ And then it dawned on me. In my head at least, ‘I sound just like my dad… what would my dad do…? He’d put the box back on the train.’ So I did. I then walked back past the old lady, still talking to her friend, and then never looked back. Just like my dad, leaving without getting to see the reaction.

Now over the following week I found me questioning myself, ‘would my dad have put the box back on the train?’ And ‘have I skewed the version of my dad in my head. Why did he make me do that?’ These questions were answered that weekend however when we had a family meal at my parents house. I told the story to my brother in law Rob. There was only the two of us in the room, and I started by saying that I thought that I’d done something to please the slightly distorted version of my dad that I had in my head. When I got to the, ‘He’d put the box back on the train.’ bit Rob was smiling and lent right forward on the sofa.

“And did you?”

“I did.”

Rob laughed straight away, and as he did so I noticed my dad stood in the entrance to the living room. I didn’t however have the chance to be worried about either how much he had heard, or to as to what he thought, as he simply smiled and nodded his head.

To be continued…

Telling stories: The swan, the postmans bike, and the sword and the watch.

There are people you come across, and friends that you know, who are just great a telling stories. Stories so big, so fantastical, that it doesn’t matter if they are true or not. I certainly don’t class myself as one of these people, and I will come to this in my next post.

I think I’ve met just a handful of good story tellers throughout my life, and they are always a pleasure to listen to. I first started work when I was 13. I had a Saturday job in my next door neighbours car body repair shop. I was the youngest person there by at least 7 years, so everyone else seemed like men of the world. They used to all take a break at the same time, and all sit together talking. This was before the smoking ban, before mobile phones, these men had to entertain each other. There lives were far removed from mine. They could drive, go to the pub, entertain the ladies. Everything to me was a story, but all they were doing was telling the others what they had been up to. In hindsight, I was probably a little spoiled by this and it shaped my expectations as to what to expect.

The next working environment, would turn about to be the one I had my first proper job in. I knew one person there, but we couldn’t always have a break at the same time, and because there were shifts you could end up on break sat on your own in a windowless room. After a few years a guy came to work there, let’s call him Mikey, and he loved to talk and tell you what he had been up to. Which whilst it was entertaining, it all sounded made up. In fact, Mikey, for the most part just came across as a liar. Now I had made friends with someone else at work, let’s call him Robert, but they had left and moved away. We stayed in touch, and whenever I could we would meet up. It was at this point that Robert would tell me what had been up to, and these big long stories would develop. They sounded completely, ridiculous, some of them could not possibly be true, but at no point did he ever come across as being a liar. It seems to come down to the way he sold them, and the fact that he was coming across like he believed what he was saying, and that his own story was entertaining him. It was after one such weekend when Robert had told me a story, that just can’t have been true, about him trying to ride a swan, that I went back to work and realised what the difference was between him and Mikey. When Mikey told you a story, he looked like he almost expected you not to believe it. Not only that, but he didn’t look like he believed it himself. It was pretty much passionless.

Over the years Roberts stories got bigger, and more outlandish. Truth be told, I’d started to not believe any of them. That however, did not matter in the slightest. They were always really funny, and hugely entertaining. Little did I know, that this would all come to change one night when Robert came to stay with me and we went out into to town.

I had been to the bar and come back to find Robert telling one of my friends a story. He sounded like he was a fair way through it, I hadn’t the faintest idea what he was talking about, so I started talking to someone else. I was stood pretty close to Robert though, so every now and again I heard snippets of the tall tale he was telling. However, then he said something that I recognised. At first I thought he was telling a story he’d told before. He wasn’t. I broke off my own conversation and listened in. Then it dawned on me. The ridiculous story he was telling, was about me. Moreover, it was true. It sounded as extraordinary as all his stories, but it was all true. Which I then went on to take that all of his preposterous stories were real. This changed everything. And I think over the years it has inspired me to do some pretty stupid things just so that I’ve had a funny story to tell.

To be continued…

My fascination: Spiralling towards a dead end.

Jumping forward to the present, I’ve just finished reading Time And Time Again by Ben Elton. It was a gift, it had been on the shelf for a while, and I had thought that it was about time that I read it… but I kind of wish that I hadn’t.

There is not much depth to the protagonist, Hugh. I think if you replaced the character description in the book with; Imagine a cross between Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and Bear Grills with a dead wife and children, you won’t go far wrong.

The explanation to the mechanics of how he travels through time is fantastically brief, but I don’t think that matters. What did matter however was as to what he thought that then meant, as to what would come of the timeline he was from.

Hugh is sent back to try and prevent the Great War, with no way of getting back to the future, once his mission is complete he will be left to live in the present of his own making.

The book is a real page-turner, so I read through it pretty quickly, but it really seems to fall apart in the 3rd act. It would appear that Hugh’s thoughts about what happens to the timeline he is from are also the authors. It comes across as being confused, and really doesn’t make sense. In fact, it then appears to make less and less sense the more it goes on. It’s the mechanics of the time-travel here that really let it down, as they are so ill-conceived and not scrupulously stuck to. Bill & Ted got this, so I’m not sure why Ben doesn’t. There are far better books that are about the preventing of a real historical event, and what comes with that, such as 11.22.63 by Stephen King (which I will go on to write about), but I wish someone had prevented me for reading this one.

To be continued…

Paying someone to insult you.

“It’s your age. The fact that you’re completely inflexible, and you’re tight.”

I could have responded with something other than a laugh to this, but I couldn’t because he was right. He was a chiropractor that I had gone to see as the back back that I have suffered from pretty much all year flared up again last weekend. This time, it was the worse it has been. On Monday I couldn’t put my socks on, I couldn’t get anywhere near my feet. The walk to the train station was as comical as it was agonising, and I couldn’t really get up from chair once I’d sat in it at work. I told my boss that I was going to have to see a doctor, but he told me not to worry about it and got me booked in with his chiropractor. It’s the first time I’ve been to one, and I didn’t know what to expect. Insults aside, one thing I wasn’t expecting to be told that it’s not my back that’s the issue. It’s my legs. They’re not very flexible, and I have a tight spot in one at the back on one and the front of the other. I therefore have to stand on the wonk, and that is causing my back to hurt. In a way this is great news, as I can do something about it. I just need to loosen up, and become… not more flexible, just flexible. As at the moment, I’m not at all.

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