In the beginning there was stabilisers

In the beginning there was stabilisers…

When I was first asked to be involved in The Clapham Film Units and the friends of Herme Hill velodromes Film, The life of the bicycle I asked my mum to dig out a picture of me on my bike as a tot.

After much rummaging mum said that there weren’t any, apparently “you never showed much interest” great, thanks mum, that will really go down well on a film about enthusiastic cyclists. She went to tell me she had some pictures of my younger sister learning to ride her bike (yes plural) so much for being the prodigal first child, looks like I was just the warm up act

Anyway the hunt continued after it was confirmed that yes, my sister would rather stab herself repeatedly in the face with a Biro than so much as acknowledge the existence of the bicycle*

Then after we had all give up hope, quite expectantly mum came up with this, in a friends photo album, which I have been instructed to take good care of, lord knows why its suddenly important now!

This picture was taken when I was about 6 or 7ish, outside my grandads house, which was over the road from my own childhood home, I am on my first bike, it was already quite the antique having shown most of the family’s post war children the ropes.

the picture is out of focus, well its not, if you look to the right, the plant claiming frame is nice and sharp…

I am wearing my classic look of 1940s inspired 1980s floral Laura Ashley type smocked dress over a t-shirt, with very 1980s pinky white tights and sandals, I had quite a few of those dresses, its not too dissimilar to what I wear now really

I look happy, in a poesy sort of way but then I still have my stabilisers, I don’t remember having this picture taken but I do remember the day my grandad removed my stabilisers and I discover that riding a bike was in fact impossible

I just didn’t get balance, much to the bewilderment of my sporty parents, even much, much later aged 10+ I was regularly cycling into lampposts, as soon as I noticed them I could not stop myself from cycling into them, I fell off a lot, I dont remember having a cycle helmet, which quite explains quite a lot. My younger sister had one, which she worn on her bike handlebars, which explains even more…

When I look at my happy little face now all I think of is the shock that will soon follow and the next tenish years of trying to get the hang of the whole two wheel thing

Anyhow much, much, much later, here I am covered in bruises and scabs, still learning, still getting back on. Quake with fear lampposts

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* I’m hoping its a stage, do people still go through “stages” in their mid 20’s?

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It never gets easier, you just go faster.

It never gets easier, you just go faster. – Greg LeMond

Day 30, I made it, in one piece, even if that piece is a little bruised, scratched and stuck back together, this isn’t really cyclings fault, I wasn’t built to be a Concours model, or I would have had some inbuilt spacial awareness and balance.

Today involved the normal cycle to the train station, Cambridge again, 4 and a bit hours of laser-cutting later and its back to the boro and over to the cottage to complete a funding app, over a beer, as is becoming the tradition, then off again to the rowing club to drink tea and hunt round for the thing that’s making the club house smell so nasty, before home, which on reflection smells quite fresh, even if it does resemble a stage from a production of lord of the flies.

I have been trying to work out if I should carry on this blog after today, not everyday, that’s mad, just when I have something intresting to say relating to Cycling. I continued to debate this into the 1st of May, until a reserved an email offering me an exciting cycling related opportunity, so that’s it, the blog carrys on

365 day cycling pledge? Bit much? Ok fine…

 

 

 

 

To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain

To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain….at cycling’s core lies painScott Martin

Day 29, which also happens to be a Monday, new week and meetings about new projects

Last night him-indoors and I watched a film called Premium Rush, unlike some of the other cycling themed films we have watched this was quite a high budget affair

‘In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city”

Or so it said on the tin, Its really quite good…

The main character’s bike is quite a lot like Frank-n-fixie

“I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes. Can’t stop. Don’t want to, either”

Its all about the speed, the risk, the skill and you would have to be completely mad, but it makes you want to ride…fast

Its a good film, I dont think I’ll convert to “runnin’ reds and killin’ peds” thou

But

This morning I found myself very late for my train, so on heading off I said to Frank, I need to be at the train station, yesterday, lets go! and off we sped

I like to ride, fixed gear, some brakes, could stop, but it would take me ages to get going again…so ideally I don’t want to

I made the train, out of breath and really for anything…which I needed to be

My day didn’t get any less rushed and it had lost of weird planned for me

I spend the morning sitting in a heritage meeting for someone else, in a theatre, while all around me the Rocky Horror show was being set up

I may just be a sweet transvestite…but I’m one who knows how to compete the correct permission forms for oral history interviews…

So after a super quick snack-lunch I’m off to a swimming pool, representing a football club, to talk about cycling, confused!

The meeting was all bout the Tour de France coming to Cambridge in 2014 and I’m already excited and so pleased to be involved, It was also a great opportunity to meet Representatives from the many different cycling clubs across Cambridge and to find out more about cycling events both locally and nationally.

I wore suitable socks…

Thanks to a canceled train I was super late coming back to Peterborough and thus my Monday night circuits class, which I am very much in need of participating in, the result of which was:

A, I had to get changed into my gym kit in a stinky train loo…again…Superman has to change in public loos less than me

B, I had to run off the train, jump on frank, instruct him I need to be at the gym, like yesterday, pedal like mad, before storming into the class, knackered, which I managed in 8 minutes, which is quite good, when you factor in locking and unlocking Frank and looking for my trainers…

Fast-ish and getting faster

Gosh today is going to hurt tomorrow…Hello pain, my old friend

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You can’t look where your going if you don’t know where your going

Wednesday

 
It is no longer my birthday, I am now older and all my presents 
are open, boo

 
The husband is up north ensuring the wall keeps the wildlings 
and white walkers out, so I have the house to myself and a 
studio day is the plan of action

 
Some nasty admin tasks do not help to lift my mood and as I 
have a rather special dress to get ready for a fitting this 
evening I decide drastic action is in order
 
Cola (with a slice of lemon and even more importantly a straw) 
chocolate buttons and the labyrinth DVD on the imac...
mmmh that's better

 
While sewing and watching I reflect on how the film never fails 
to lift my mood and start planning my autobiography, told through
the structure of the film*

 
Anyhow...

 
Dress done, I head of on frank to my evening fittings which 
include opening another card and present ( I'm a very lucky girl) 
before heading back to the rowing club to admire Ella's newly 
uncast leg and talk about the cycle ride she has roped me into 
on Sunday, well when I say "roped" what i mean is I bit her hand off.

It's quite hard to find girls to cycle with, you see, 
they keep breaking
 
Ella is perhaps the only person I know who comes close to being as 
accident prone as me...only I fall and bounce she falls and shatters, 
however, having raced in a four with her I can also confirm she is 
one of the most competitive people I know which should make this 
interesting...dont you think Ella? ;) 

* i know every word of this film by heart, and have on many 
occasions recited some or all of it, as a one women impromptu 
show and sometimes with other wakkos, am happy to do so on 
request, but trust me, its a very weird thing to witness
 

my spirit can’t be broken, even if my legs are…

A new week always starts with me deciding to try and fit more in and be more productive. I have a “studio” day today and as most of my projects are in the early research stage, so this means I  get to spend most of the day reading books, searching the web, making little piles of fabric all over the place and generally pottering about talking to myself.

Its still beautifully sunny and I know that’s going to stop the moment my new bike gets here, so I try to distract myself from the lack of new bike by reading the exhibition book from the fantastic David Bowie is exhibition at the V&A and eating my own body weight in coffee cake accompanied by tea. This also serves as a distraction from the continuing and almost looming presence of the Pashley’s puncture, which I still haven’t fixed and which is now sitting in the lounge just to remind me of my own inability to even try to re-learn bike maintenance.

The book as as fantastic as the exhibition and I am soon lost in the world of Bowie, certain that this is influence everything I make for a long time to come, it is then, when only the arrival of a new bike could distract me, that the arrival of my new bike distracts me from both Bowie and cake.

It arrives in a huge-mungus box, on which the delivery driver can’t help repeatedly commenting, before helping me shoehorn it into my house. Is there anything more exciting them getting large parcels? I am just contemplating the size of the thing when the husband arrives back home from A&E (infections, in his hands, from rowing, again, and yes he cycled there, perhaps one day I’ll do a list of illnesses and aliments we have cycled with, or gained from cycling)

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When about a month earlier my new overlocker arrived, him indoors showed no interest at all, in fact I have only recently got it out the box myself and I’m yet to use it, however this time the husband was very keen to help with unpacking and setting up my new toy.

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“Jake” model name given by Kona not me, is very light and fast looking, but after set up I only managed a gentle cycle around the street in my slippers to establish the gears needed tuning. Then I had to go back to work, well reading and eating cake (hey its a big book!)

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Now Monday night is circuits night, and post race boats also need to be re rigged and put away, so back on frank, while I pondered Jake’s gear situation (yep now feels like a name my bikes, weird!) I headed to the rowing club, I had a tail wind all the way so got up a far bit of speed down the rowing lake, which was fun (damn wheres Strava when you need it.

This evenings circuits class included yet more spin bikes, which only served to remind me I have no natural aptitude for cycling as I am so much more rubbish at this than everyone else even thou I CYCLE EVERY DAY. No matter I have a new toy, so my spirit can’t be broken, even if my legs are. Although perhaps, on reflection a diet of pure cake does not an athlete make? Nah that can’t be it. Boy, is this going to hurt tomorrow…

I did get home however to discover my lovely husband had not only tuned up Jake’s gears but also fixed the Pashley’s puncture, Yah!

Skins, Pimms and fixing things

Race day!

I was a little worried, as I had to be off at early o’clock and expected to be broken post race, how I was going to squish a ride in today? But as we planned to meet at the rowing club I didn’t need to worry as frank-n-fixie had the opportunity to see me off and help me limp home.

It has been a wonderfully sunny Sunday; it felt more like a regatta then a headrace. As I had dressed for winter this meant lots of de-layering at the start to ensure I did not melt mid race, I would even go so far as to say it was “skins” weather (onesie only, not nude rowing) Just to make that clear to non-rowers/the dirty minded.

We managed a respectable 8.29 minutes over 2k, which didn’t win us anything, but was not embarrassing either. I was just pleased I didn’t mess up or run out of steam. And we managed not to be overtaken much to my surprise.

Much as I was happy to while away the rest of the day watching others huff and puff up and down the river, with a drink in one hand and a cake in the other, I chose to go back home early to do work stuff, so I am ready for more work stuff tomorrow, (scratch’s head) that really sucks when you see it in print…

Anyway it is such a lovely day I dug out some summer clothes to try and encourage the sun to stay and Frank-n-Fixie and I cycled to the post box in a skirt and sandals, mostly for kicks but also for practice (summer IS coming)

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Lots of other people were out making the most of the sunshine and many of them were on bikes, most of the other cyclists were children or teenagers, and all of the adults I spotted were men. What is it that stops us, especially us women, from cycling past a certain age? I’m guessing a lot of people stop when they learn to drive, It’s such a shame.

I did have the joy of playing one of my favorite games. It stems from my discovery that many men dislike being overtaken by a girl, imagine the horror of the mountain biker I flew past today, on Frank, with his two different sizes wheels and rusty frame, and me dressed much like an old lady. Try as he might with all the gears at his disposal he was fighting a losing battle. 

The evening was spent with me trying to warm up to fixing the Pashleys puncture, with a jug of pimms, on reflection, not a great idea. I need to get back into the swing of fixing stuff myself. I’m sure I used to be able to do this without being such a total girl about it, sigh; I’ve been spoilt by him-indoors. Pass me another Pimms.

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A list of things I have cycled with, in and over

A list of Things I have cycled with, in and over

You may think Bradley Wiggins is an impressive cyclist, but 
has Wiggo ever had to cycle with any of these totally 
inappropriate items on board?

Things I (and him indoors) have cycled with...

- A big bunch of flowers, First thought on being given flowers 
"how lovely!" second thought " How am I going to get these home?" 
Great present for a cyclist, especially one with no basket. God 
I sound ungrateful but you should see how they look at the other 
end...

- A weeks worth of food for two, standard trip this one

- A full length umbrella, not up, which is silly as I'm 
already wet then right? 

- A bin bag full of balloons, I can't even remember why, 
all I remember is the wind...

- A Roll of fabric, the husband has so perfected this he 
can multitask and also do an excellent impression of firing 
a bazooka at the same time. 

- A Suitcase, the big kind you would never manage to sneak 
on as hand luggage, both carried on my handlebars and wheeled alongside, 
should also add very full and heavy...

- Another bike, whole and in bits, in bits is in fact harder, 
whole is quite a circus trick

- A sewing machine, an old heavy 1970s one, not the shit kind they 
sew in John Lewis, this is managed by putting it in a suitcase

- A mannequin, easier than you think, but looks very very strange, 
do not make new friends while doing this

- A huge wicker shopping basket of wire coat hangers, this was in 
fact the worst of all, bloody hangers kept throwing themselves in 
my spokes, but then we all know hangers bite

- A long dress bag, full of heavy dress, which must not be creased 
or covered in mud (also see "crinoline" yes really, I kid you not)

- An A1 portfolio, flat and rolled, fine until the wind catches you 
or you need to turn a corner, I first discovered this while at college, 
the hard way

- An Fragile A2 planning model, this was the husband, I think it was 
raining too, he has shit for luck, poor man

- The whole contents of my large full freezer, including 4 whole chickens 
and lord knows how many sausages, this was me, late at night, after a 
breakdown (in more ways than one) imagine if I had been stopped and 
searched, I can see the headlines now, thankfully (?) it was snowing 
so nothing defrosted...

Things I have seen other cyclists ride with that shocked me

- A surf board, in Cambridge, ON THE ROAD, Mill road no less, I just 
could not get my phone out quick enough to take a pic thou. I should 
say 99% of my effects were done on off road on Peterborough's 
wonderful cycle network

Things I have cycled wearing

- Corsets (range of eras, always far to tight)

- Full 1950's petticoats

- Tight pencil skirts

- A range of colourful Mini skirts

- A Victorian night dress

- Full Tudor court dress (its still in recovery)

- Non stretch super tight skinny jeans (RRRIIIIPPP or RIP jeans, 
same thing really, unless you want to go round with your bum out)

- Too many silly hats to list

Also you really have not lived till you have got your stockings 
mangled in your chain, but dont take my word for it, get your 
suspender belt on and get peddling! 

Things I have unintentionally cycled over or through

A snake, yes a real live one, i think it was sun bathing, 
didn't see it till it was too late...squish

The flooded river, over a metre deep, i thought it was only a 
little flooded, it wasn't

A hedge, with no gap, and thorns, it now has a gab

My neighbors flower beds so sorry "drives to the shop round the 
corner and reads The Daily Mail" for messing with your Anally 
retentive borders, it was a accident, honest!

See my Pintrest page for evidence of some of the above 


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