It’s pretty much the end the summer already, and again I have found myself having to play catch-up again. However, the funny thing is, cycling never feels like a chore, and bizarrely it never feels like exercise. That last part might sound a little odd, not lease because I own a Garmin and end up cataloguing no end of riding data. I also up-load all my rides to Strava, and will compare my rides to those of others… and yes, of course I’m pretty stoked to win KOM’s. Lots of things go through my mind as I ride, but not of them are trying to remember that I’m having fun. If it ever was, I’d never do it. I’m certain a that I’ve said before that I don’t go to the gym. I actually can’t go to the gym, my head won’t allow me to do it. If keeping fit is byproduct of going out and enjoying myself, so be it. I’ve no idea what would happen to me if I didn’t, or couldn’t, ride. Well, I’d be fat. I’d almost certainly be fat, with the amount of cake I eat.

However, I wrote the majority of this post last weekend whilst on flights to and from a stag do in Spain with every intention of putting in more miles this week. Since I’ve been back though I’ve felt pretty rough. At first I put it down to me not being able recover from the 3 day drinking session that was the stag do, but as of this morning I have realised that I am actually ill. Bizarrely this gives me solace, even though it still gives me more miles to catch up on.

Men who wave at trains.

Despite the fact that an owl flying next to the train I was on caused me briefly to wonder whether I was or not, I have never been on the Hogwarts Express. Neither have I ever been on the Orient Express or the Trans Siberian Express. I’m pretty certain too that I have never been on a steam train. All of which leads me to wonder why I see so many grown adults waving at whatever train I do happen to be on.

Now before you think I’m being grumpy again, I’m not, I’m most definitely not. It brightens my day. I have no idea why they do it. In fact, it would appear to be the action of a mentalist. Are they waving at the train, or the passengers on it? And if it is at the passengers, surely they cannot see if they ever get a response?

I know this would appear to be little hypocritical. In my last post I bemoaned those who show no sign whatsoever have acknowledging someone saying hello. These train wavers though do get a response from me. It’s not a wave, but it is a smile.

A lack of acknowledgement.

It maybe because of my history of mountain biking, and BMX, where stopping and talking to other riders – that were up until that point complete strangers – was the complete norm. Wether it be; out on the trail, in the local woods, at a jump spot, or in a skate park, it was always a given that you would spend time talking to these like-minded fools. Some would then no-longer be strangers, others you would never see again, but the socialising felt as if it were as much of the point of going out riding as the ride itself was.

Now I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not the member of a club and I’ll often go out riding on my own, but I have always been surprised by the lack of acknowledgement by other riders I’ve gotten whilst out riding on the road. I’m certainly not suggesting that I ride around the roads expecting people to smile, release a few fingers on their bars, or even say hello, but I do kind of think that it’s at the very least the polite thing to do to respond in kind if someone’s done it to you. And that’s the thing. I say hello to everyone I see when out riding. I don’t say hello to get a response, I say hello because it’s polite. But I always feel slightly disappointed not to see any signs of response whatsoever. I shouldn’t, I know that, but I do nonetheless.

Am I expecting a response because I think we have a kinship because we’re cyclists? Or course I don’t. I do however think we have a kinship because we’re both human beings usually out in the middle of nowhere. Not responding at all is just plain rude, but perhaps not quite as rude as being blanked. Yes, somehow I must have offended someone so much by saying hello that they’ve turned their head the other way. I’ve also come across a peloton of riders dressed head to toe in a brand of clothing synonymous with riding cafe culture, a group of riders you would assume would be very social, none of whom said hello. They all however looked a little taken aback when I said ‘hello again,’ to every single one of them when our rides crossed paths again later on that same ride.

I’m not the cheeriest of people, and I’m certainly not the most social, but at the very least I make an attempt at least to be polite.

All of this though will seem slightly at odds with my very next post…

“What did you hope to achieve?”

IMG_4057 This was a question I was asked by one of my oldest friends at Christmas when I’d said that I’d had to take the back off the television because it wouldn’t turn on. At the time I had no clue. I’m not an electrician, and have no idea about the inner workings of a television, what on earth was I thinking…? My only basis for taking the back off was that the standby light would flicker when I moved the power-lead. I’d already tried a different lead, which hadn’t made the blindest jot of difference, so thought that it must be a faulty connection inside. I wasn’t sure what I’d find inside, or what I’d be able to do. I actually ended up leaving out a screw so that the board that holds the power socket had some play in it… don’t ask why though, as I have no idea, but it worked. This morning however, the volume kept turning itself down to zero. At first I was convinced one of the cats were sitting on the remote, but this wasn’t the case. I also removed the batteries from all of the remotes, but this still didn’t make a difference. So the back came off the television again. However, this time I went and researched possible causes and fixes first on the net. Now this did involve reading through a few forums, which I don’t like doing as you never know who it is that’s giving you the advice. At work we will have the odd customer repeat research that they’ve read on forums, and 9 times out of 10 it sounds like nonsense. The fix I decided upon sounded plausible, but as it had no detailed instructions whatsoever, I wasn’t certain if it was something that I would be able to do. Turns out, disconnecting all the switches on the side of the television was just a case of unplugging them. It worked. I don’t need to buy a new one…which is unfortunate as I really want a bigger television. So; What did I hope to achieve…? Not needlessly spending money on something that could be fixed. Which I suppose comes from always working on my own bikes. I think though I will have to draw a line somewhere, as there are only so many screws I can leave out and plugs I can disconnect…


Smoothness is the key to increasing your speed.
How smooth you keep each individual pedal stroke, your cadence, your average speed, your cornering, and your bike. From the drivetrain, to the gear shifting, to the bearings. The smoother you can make these the faster your overall speed on a ride will be. The less energy you waste will mean that you will then be able to keep riding faster for longer. Or… at the very least, will give you one less thing to worry about so that you can enjoy the ride.

I’ve long been an advocate of listening to your bike. What is it telling you. With the exception of the final check of the limit screws on the front and rear derailleurs, the majority of my gear adjustment will be done through listening to them and then making any necessary adjustments. The rest of the drivetrain will be kept as clean and as well lubed as possible, with your lube of choice… which should be this; No.5 by Wickens & Soderstrom. Bearings, will only usually let you know if there’s something wrong by listening to them if the something is very wrong. A good indicator to how things are going can be done by feel. Hold the frame, and spin the wheels one at a time. If you can feel them spinning through the frame, they’re running either dry or rough and need attention. Obviously the key to this would be prevention, as in regular servicing, but I do realise that this isn’t for everyone. For those that can however you should be using the right grease, and the very best grease you can, to keep those bearings clean and running smooth. With that in mind I’m going to be servicing mine with some of the new No.2 HS grease by Wickens & Soderstrom. I’ll let you know how I get on…


The riding is going well this year… although the miles in February and March were a little on the lean side. I have however developed a click from somewhere in the De Rosa, which bugs me. I have mentioned before that it’s not necessarily the noise that bugs me but the not knowing whats making the noise. It will however give me an excuse to test out out some new grease from Wickens & Soderstrom… just as soon as they let me know which one to use.

An unintentional role model.

I was bought up in a time when both Fawlty Towers and Monty Python were shown on regular television, and not in the middle of the night either. My dad loved both, and when they were on he would get me to watch them. From memory he started doing this when I was about four, so him having to wake me up and get me out of bed to go down to the living room to watch it was commonplace. To me it was the middle of the night, where in actual fact it was probably just late evening. At that age too I couldn’t really distinguish too much of a difference between my dad and John Cleese. I’m not saying that my dad looks like John Cleese, but they were both tall, and the same colour hair, and side partings, and kind of dressed the same. So the fact that my dad was forcing me to watch a man on the television that appeared the same as him, and whatever he was in always appeared to be in charge, made me like whoever he was playing a lot. And whilst I didn’t always quite understand it, I certainly knew that it was funny; that he was funny. Clearly this was in the days before box-sets, and the internet. Neither of us somehow never had the fore-site to record any of it off the television, so we only ever got to see it when it was on the BBC. Which I think was how my fascination with it never waned. At no point did I overdose on it, so I never tired of it. So when I then had a choice over what I watched on television, I would always choose to watch them. I would choose to watch a man who reminded me of my dad, usually getting very angry and being very funny.

When I began working full-time, when I still lived at home, I went through a couple of periods at not only being in charge of a third of the shop; but of being the only full-time member of staff in that third of the shop. Those periods were hard, and had really long hours, and the second time happened to coincide with BBC Two showing the entire two series of Fawlty Towers roundabout the time I would get home from work. So, more often that not, I would sit down in front of the television in a bad mood only to be confronted by a man being frustrated by his customers. After a few days of this I realised that I was being frustrated by my customers too, and I was in a bad mood for exactly the same reasons that Basil was. I started to see in my own behaviour things that Basil was doing, so tried to make sure that I didn’t do those things any more. As I worked at my job more, and gained more and more experience in dealing with customers (which was down to me having a very lazy boss. He would either never come to deal with a customer concern, or let them take advantage of the situation), I started to view the customers (the irrational ones) losing their cool as Basil, and it was at this point that my working days improved greatly*.

Years later I was given all Fawlty Towers on DVD and whenever I needed either a laugh, or a reminder of how not to behave, I would put an episode on. In hindsight though, it was probably at this point that things started to go array. You see, it was at this point that I realised that I could do a pretty good impression of Basil. Well; I was tall, could shout, and wave my fist at the ceiling. I did it to make my friends laugh, and once ended up going to a fancy-dress party as him. Oh, and when the party finished I went out in town still wearing the moustache and cravat. When I worked in the pub, when it was very busy, if anything ever went wrong (the night the tills both died for instance) Basil would come out to make light of the situation. I would continue to do this from time to time, for my own amusement more than anything else. But little did I know that not only was I doing it far more often than I thought, but that I wasn’t doing it to be funny any more. And this grew, and festered, and in hindsight got far worse. Sometime after that, when I worked in the garage, for me to slam the door to the office or go and kick a bin in the workshop was quite a regular occurrence. Somewhere along the line I had lost all conciseness that what I was doing was ridiculous. One Christmas Jen and I went to the pub after work and had a Christmas drink. Once home nipped to the loo, and when I came back Jen was stomping around the house wearing my work boots. When I asked her what she was doing she answered “being Richard, I’m going to go and be angry at the cats.” That should have been a clue that something was wrong with me… but it wasn’t.

It’s actually taken me years to work out what I was doing. Well, it helped that I now work alongside someone who I knew years before to point out that I wasn’t always like this… It’s taking a lot of work to undo, but I am working on it.

*this is definitely something that I’ll come back to, but it just doesn’t really fit here.