Sunday, 21 December 2014

Leaden skies

Solstice day. Grey and 'mild for the time of year'
Incentive gone, sapped by midwinter gloom
Fitness ambition playing off against lie-in mentality
Saddle and fireside chair, magnets of opposing poles
Roast dinner, stew and broth, winter comfort not for the athlete

Forty year old Christmas songs repeatedly invade
Incentive enough to brave dank, dark wind
Familiar cafes, steamed up windows beaming lighthouse salvation
'Tis the season to keep warm, keep jolly, keep trying, to keep on
Don't give up, give in, days are getting longer

Somehow a night ride seems appealing
Feeling elements but not what's missing
Focus easier, isolation complete
Rhythmic breathing, cyclic pedalling
View - a mere vignette, just enough - it'll soon be summer!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bunting time

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Lancaster, will visit Blackburn tomorrow to perform the annual Royal duty of handing out Maundy Money at the service in Blackburn cathedral. Symbolic of Jesus washing the disciples feet, the Maundy service, is the only time her Majesty personally hands gifts to commoners.

I won't be able to join the throngs of onlookers but I did cycle down to see how the preparations are going. Darwen street has been resurfaced (it was planned, apparently) and now the street cleaners are busy sprucing up the surroundings.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Janapar - Tom's bike trip

In November we had our annual trip to the Kendal Mountain Festival to watch adventure and outdoor films. There's a large emphasis on climbing and mountaineering but there is also plenty of other content for those on two wheels, water sports enthusiasts and outdoor folk in general. They all fascinate me and I find the whole weekend an enjoyable escape from the onset of a dark British winter. This year, the film that stood out for us was Janapar. Ostensibly a bike trip around the world but really a love story that searches into one's soul to find what motivates our life decisions. This beautifully crafted film is highly recommended. Tom Seymour of the Guardian Bike blog reviewed the film but if you want to avoid the spoilers, watch the film first.

Janapar: Official Trailer from Janapar Film on Vimeo.

Tom Allen, the creator of Janapar, has an excellent blog called Tom's Bike Trip that should be an inspiration to anyone harbouring the slightest notion of getting away from mundane every day life and having a world adventure. His advice is stop thinking about it, just do it. Check out Tom's Bike Trip for inspiration on bike travel and what it can mean to your life.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Give and take

That's all it needs - a little understanding about sharing the road. Some people don't get it.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Compare and contrast

January 2010
January 2014

Whilst North America experiences one of its worst winters, the effect of the large storms here, the other side of the Atlantic, is repeated bashing from south westerly gales bringing rain and coastal flooding to the UK. Despite this, so far, our winter has been mild. There have been only a few days here in Lancashire when the mercury has been below zero, unlike the past three winters during which there were a number of periods when the temperature never rose above freezing - result: less salt on the road and consequently less bike cleaning, corrosion and therefore safer riding.

Adverse conditions require a lot more effort to cope with. Compared to a summer commute when we can just get on a bike and go, winter commuting requires more preparation especially if ice and snow are involved.

Winter has a long way to go, so having made this comparison, we'll probably get loads of snow before spring!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Lonely road

Most commuters weren't around as I rode down empty streets on the way to work this morning. It was a pleasure not only to feel safer because of less traffic but also because the weather was bright and cheery unlike the stormy weather we're currently experiencing every couple of days.

Times they are a changin'

Come early January, increasing daylight is quite noticeable but what always surprises me is how much this contrasts with a few days ago in late December when we were lurching headlong into endless darkness. Just before seeming inevitable it would become depressingly gloomy, brightness now hints through wintery skies. I probably sense it more at this time of year because my morning commute is at dawn when the change is happening. Cycling at any time of year heightens riders' senses to seasonal change. For me, this is one of the plusses of riding at dawn and dusk.