Cycling + => Ride => Topic started by: sam on October 28, 2013

Title: Velosolo Club
Post by: sam on October 28, 2013
I hereby announce formation of the Velosolo Club, simultaneously ( and in all dimensions. The idea behind the club is very simple. It's for people who ride alone.


Rules are as follows:
- Dress is informal, meaning cycling kit isn't required to go on a club ride (though you may change your mind when this ( gets its fire safety certificate). Rapha may only be worn if slept in.
- Any type of bicycle may be ridden, as long as at least one component has been changed from the original spec.
- Stop at red lights, go like a bat out of hell when they turn green. If you can go like a bat out of hell. If you can't, no worries.


- Club members keep calm under all circumstances. (
- Other riding customs as your experience and sense of propriety dictate.
- Minimum club ride distance is as follows: any ride which takes longer than the preparation for that ride.
- More or fewer rules as they become necessary.

No affiliation with the online shop of the same name.

Enjoys reciprocal clubhouse privileges with The Zero Club. (
Title: club run
Post by: sam on October 29, 2013
Back from a ride under the auspices of the club. The usual circuit. Bumped into a few other cyclists who I believe were members as well, but one of the club rules is to eschew showy introductions and just get on with it. Showed form honking (another rule: honking is fine if you don't do it out loud) up The Big Hill; shall update Strava in the coolness of the evening. I don't have a computer fitted to the bike, so all speeds are estimates based on when I pass a certain gnarled tree.

Lots of branches still down after the storm. I zigzagged so much along one stretch I could've been touring the fjords of Norway. The mayhem included conkers spilled like marbles so it was impossible to relax into a rhythm. I picked up a few conkers and placed them in my saddle bag for later inspection.

One of the sights along the way is Bodiam Castle, whose chief claim to fame is actually looking like a castle rather than porridge melting into indigestible clumps in the rain. There's a beautiful moat filled with ugly carp. Nothing wrong with ugly, it's a description of the species. I can say this with confidence because I've had a good look at Total Carp ( magazine. During high season, guides dressed in authentic period costume round up tourists to make medieval-looking trinkets to sell to other tourists in the gift shop.


Today's ride included an experiment with tyre pressure a little lower than normal – I always go for the maximum. ( (Air being free, I like to hoard it.) Result? Too soft, Nelly! I need to be launched from every divot and chipping in the road.

On the return journey I noted a lollipop lady's lollipop peeking from behind a lychgate. I've never been more than an occasional petty thief, one too many free samples at the supermarket, guest book pens not tied down, that sort of thing, but I experienced an impulse to take this unsecured item home with me. Of course I didn't; I thought of the children.
Title: Try something new today
Post by: sam on August 24, 2014
From the Things I didn't expect to see on my ride files:

Chapeau, shoppers

And up the road:


Audax passing through?
Title: nuR nuD
Post by: sam on April 20, 2015
Even as the founder of a club devoted to singular cycling, I occasionally go on rides with cyclists other than myself. The Dun Run is one such event: literally thousands of people go who aren't me. Thus the draw.

This year there is – or until recently, was – a delicious conflict: the Nur Nud. ( It's what the Dun Run could've been if only it was going the other way, presumably ending with a morning dip into the Hackney Marshes.


By sharing the evening with its contraflow sister, the Nur Nud would also share the frisson of an established Big Night of Cycling, with the added bonus of not ending up in Dunwich, which an irate god must have had a good reason for sinking.

The organiser of the NN has been persuaded by health & safety to change the date, so any vote I'd cast would be symbolic, much like the ballot I throws into the great maw of democracy come the general election.
Title: If you build it
Post by: sam on May 04, 2015
Went on a club run yesterday as a head cold was brewing. "I'll be fine," I sneezed to my wife. Just 14 miles, up to the pyramid and back. That would be the Great Pyramid of Brightling, its builder now eternally retired from a life of follies. This mysterious structure has been cursed ever since Mad Jack ( held an orgy at the nearby church and didn't invite the vicar.

see inside the pyramid (

It was windy, so I took the straight-barred ( rock steady Litespeed, which although long since toppled ( from its position at the pinnacle of my small stable, often still surprises me by the joy it is capable of bringing to a ride.

Passed a couple almost identically dressed and hunched over in effort against the elements. He was only slightly ahead, performing the slipstreaming labour of love.

When I got home it was snowing cherry blossoms.
Title: Bridges & Beers
Post by: sam on June 15, 2015
The Velosolo Club conducted a joint operation with the Bridges & Beers ( brigade yesterday.

The train ride up from the VCHQ in East Sussex was uneventful. Accompanied by the club vice president, we alighted from Waterloo station and into the middle of a selfie safari.

note the pint-sized Darth Vader, who clearly wasn't thinking safety

Having only one bike between us, we were forced to take another train to Hampton Court, which those who watched Wolf Hall will recall was seized by Henry after Wolsey proved too slyly likeable.


Hampton Court station came with its own jester, shown here interrogating a jackdaw.


After meeting some of the B&B cast, the club treasurer fled to Oxford Street to navigate the treacherous women's floor at John Lewis and buy a skirt.

The ride promised and delivered bridges. Being largely unfamiliar with the far southwestern reaches of London (who knew the Thames went past Westminster Bridge?), I was grateful to have a guide who knew the lay of the land, which we occasionally doubled back on as an aid to imprinting it in our collective memory.

By the time we arrived at our first pub in Wandsworth, after traversing more riverside than has evidently been mapped, sometimes on paths not quite fit for an entourage but thankfully cleared of velociraptors if not humble pilgrims without bikes, I was hungry if not thirsty. Sitting next to Richard Gere, who had also come along on the ride, I watched with quiet horror his unfinished chips being taken from the table before I had time to cadge some, having only budgeted for a thrifty Subway sandwich procured the day before.

A bit further along we observed a helicopter whirling itself into the sky. Probably someone with a Brompton showing off.

Speaking of which, quite often when we hit smooth tarmac I adopted club practice of Look mum no hands. ( This is difficult to pull off in a group ride without looking like a d**k. Let the record show this is my version of a Snoopy dance, ( and is in no way meant to demoralise those who don't enjoy good caster steering. It also soothes my occasionally troublesome back.

random earthworks turtle pic

Not long after hitting London proper (no offence to those who live in the sticks) our critical mass landed at the second and final pub. As I am lock averse – an unwritten club rule is you should never lock a bike you aren't prepared to lose – this presented a dilemma: enter in a spirit of camaraderie, or sit outside and watch the bikes, only missing a leash to complete the picture?


I chose to share the ride organiser's hefty lock (with thanks to others for volunteering) and join the gruppo, which was eventually forced inside thanks to the practicing campanologists ( of Southwark Cathedral. (Or a recording, I'm no campy expert. Shame I couldn't find the actual Monty Python clip.) That I fled shortly afterwards owes nothing to the company, and everything to my pubphobia, which usually only manifests itself when inside an establishment. This is a combination of mild claustrophobia and a dislike of pub acoustics, which inevitably have me wanting to turn up my nonexistant hearing aid.

Back in deepest middle eastest Sussex the club physician met me at the station with the car in case I wanted a lift, took one look at my still full bidon, and shook her head at my dreadful hydration routine. Alcohol is even more dehydrating, I wanted to tell her. Then I raced her home, given a head start as she got caught at the level crossing. I don't run on water: I run on good mojo.
Title: The Half Dun
Post by: sam on June 19, 2015
When the FNRttC was up and running to its best ( destination of Brighton, it was usually my practice to turn around at Ditchling Beacon (the top, of course) and go home, that so-called London by the sea never actually being of much interest. Thus it has finally occurred to me that it isn't obligatory to finish the Dun Run at Dunwich, which I've been to many times over the years; and it's far less interesting when you have to turn around and get on the same train as approximately 10,000 other cyclists.

Prompted by the Nur Nud, and inspired by the Dalston Dynamo manifesto ("Because Suffolk is a fucking long way away"), I have decided to tailor the event to suit my own needs, which include the occasional outing with hundreds of thousands of other cyclists, a good night ride, and London miles. I'm also partial to the chaotic critical mess at the start and that lovely dippy feeling of getting frequently lost.

All of which is to announce the next major Velosolo Club outing: the Half Dun. The plan is to celebrate Independence Day


by launching my little ship along with the great armada from the Pub On The Park, ride out approximately half way, then turn around as if unable to resist the allure of the mother ship after all and retrace the route, forsaking the tail lights' red glare to be half blinded by the night's offering of candlepower.

To fully enjoy the experience this will necesitate shooting off with the early ejectulators well before 9pm. Upon arrival back at Hackney I may pass Dalstoneers asleep underneath bus stop benches and doubtless be passed by the speedier ( Dun Runners.


Consider this notice served that the one way system in effect that night along the route will be suffering contraflow disruption in addition to other traffic which hasn't gotten the memo.
Title: Zzzzzz
Post by: sam on July 02, 2015
Have been doing night rides, limbering up for my upcoming Half Dun ↑. Being an inzzzomniac helps.

An inzzzzzomniac, which can be spelt with as many Zs as you please, is someone who doesn't sleep as much as alive people normally do, but does sleep on occasion; and is also known to enter a zombie state an hour or two before surrendering to the id-encrusted hypothalamus. Inzzzzzzomniacs can also look frightening if you catch them in this in-between state.

Of course you can't go full zombie on these affairs, for your own safety and that of others. Sometime between now and the 4th I'll have to manage to get a really good day's sleep.


Or not. (
Title: Ghost ride
Post by: sam on July 14, 2015
Another VC joint operation gone awry; there was far too much conversation to allow for much in the way of introspection or karaoke. (

It began with Southeastern Trains dropping me at London Bridge rather than the more convenient Charing Cross, which necesitated a race across town and picking my way through barriers for another race ( to make it to Hyde Park Corner in time. The Queen sent her finest over to see us off, then we were.


The ride was about ghost signs, those fading hoardings of paint which pallidly dot the urban landscape like so:


I was also intrigued by the Arab Cargo Company Ltd. What sort of cargo is Arab cargo? Is it their version of Genco? (

Spent a good deal of time alongside a very nice man on a very nice looking recumbent. I say he's nice because he offered to let me ride it sometime, after first sensibly determining that I have ridden 'bents before and wasn't likely to come a cropper on his.

For a long while I will shamefully admit I didn't pay much attention to the ghost signs on offer, as it felt so nice just cruising through London and getting lost in talk. At one point my eye spied crepe fluttering in the breeze, which marked a graveyard.




RIP Barry Mason.

We also passed "the most used street in movies set in London," according to Ross, whose quote I have surely mangled.


Apparently this is where Hugh Grant got into that fight with Colin Firth in that movie about a nice young woman's diary. ( @1.18 do you suppose that's what Liz Hurley wanted to do? And what's the doc from Star Trek DS9 doing there, sucking a lollipop? (On watching it again I realised he's smoking a cigarette. Why did I think that was a sweet? Oral fixation, anyone?)

We passed an old sunken road kept under lock and key to dissuade chuggers:


Seeing as LMNH was on the agenda, throughout the ride I did my best to keep hands from handlebars throughout the ride.

At the foodstop there was a seat going spare across from one of my favourite actors, Bill Nighy. He didn't quite reach Richard Gere doppelgänger levels (see Bridges & Beers above), but I'm almost sure it was Bill if I squinted and put a bit of cotton in my ears. Splendid bloke; along with Martin Freeman, the only way to watch all the way through Love Actually without topping yourself. The subject of marmosets came up.

About three hours into lunch I determined it was time to dash back to my wife, which was fortunate as not longer after I got home she took ill. (She's a bit better now.)

That doesn't seem like a satisfying ending to this ride report. Bill, give us a laugh. (
Title: Wenday
Post by: sam on July 24, 2015
Tomorrow is Wen ( The Velosolo Club is taking the weekend off.

As this is somewhat off the beaten path, it's a safe place to reveal the surprise that I'm baking muffins for everybody who makes it to the top of the last big BLUEBERRY ( hill.

I've been keeping an eye on the weather. God knows why. Just as a watched pot never boils [Snopes: False], perhaps a watched sky won't rain.

Rain is Mother Nature crying, which is why meteorologists are so melancholy
Title: 1 squire
Post by: sam on July 28, 2015
Things I didn't expect to see on my ride, cont'd


Jack Fuller, ( brought to life by Geoff Hutchinson in a recurring role. (
Title: The Where
Post by: sam on August 31, 2015
We have lately been making efforts to locate Holmshurst Manor, a Jacobean house belonging to the ElizabethIIan Roger Daltrey. It's not far down the road from VCHQ. The question is, which road? There aren't that many to choose from; yet still it has eluded us. There's no sense of urgency, as we don't know what we're going to do when we find it other than mark it off our liszt.

"Sing us a song, you're the piano man." (

"Yes ma'am. (
Sorry no piano. Here's a vid ( that always brings a tear to my eye though."

These people also do good work. (
If a piano falls and nobody is there to do the countdown, does it still make a sound?

Does the royal we ever get tiring?
Title: 104'33"
Post by: sam on September 05, 2015
There's no good reason to ride without music, unless you particularly like the sound of passing traffic, or for those of us who live in the country, nature. It's well known that birds only sing out of sheer boredom.

The worst side effect of taking your earphones off, apart from showcasing any tinnitus, is the enhanced ability to hear noises your bike shouldn't be making. Unfortunately, sometimes these ticks and creaks and wails happen in the pauses separating tracks, and are sufficiently distracting to drain pleasure from the next movement. It doesn't matter if you're less than sensible with the volume. A loud enough mechanical chorus will not be denied an audience, even slipping between notes to create disharmony. Eventually it can become necessary to take the extreme measure of earphone removal to help diagnose the problem then see if you've fixed it.

I have completed a club run for the express purpose of determining if my recent efforts (seatpost collar and rear wheel Q/R skewer replaced) to solve the latest riddle (intermittent ticking) worked. A nocturne seemed the way to go. Due to pressure by the powerful pie chart industry, I've illustrated the data acquired from this "quiet riot ( ride" thus:

Dedicated to John ( "Everything we do is music" Cage (
I see the first video has been taken off YouTube because reproducing the sound of silence was a copyright violation
Title: The Last of England
Post by: sam on September 05, 2016
The Velosolo Club co-ordinating committee (needless to say I wear multiple hats to form a quorum) rarely convenes; the last time was to discuss the impact of Brexit ( on the club ("nil"). Productivity and morale are vastly improved by skipping meetings. Not long ago it was discovered that the secretary had signed up to a group ride from Ashford to Rye. Although participation in non-solo rides clearly isn't prohibited under the charter, it requires a unanimous vote. After an emergency session, this was obtained.

Ashford is chiefly known for its discount designer outlet stores

tattoo parlours [citation needed]


and high speed rail service to the continent.


Of chief interest, however, was removing ourselves from Ashford. Here is footage ( captured by a low-flying drone.

The first sign that we were in countryside proper was a stockpile of rabbit food. (


We contemplated bivouacking at the Royal Military Canal, ( aka Mr Pitt's Ditch. Built to aid in the defense of the realm against 5'6" of aggressive Frenchman


this swan bait is "the third longest defensive monument in the British Isles after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke."



Rations were sourced in Dungeoness, a deliberate misspelling and cuspate foreland, incidentally my new word for the day. Here you'll find Derek Jarman's celebrated flotsam and shingle garden. (I missed it.)


We turned part of a beer garden into a bike park. Some took security more seriously than others, eschewing lock for anchor.


I catalogued tattoos I'd been following as they danced on the pedals. (

click for closeup (



and went on safari.

that tickle in your nose before you sneeze


Next was the nuclear power station. It needs to suck up and spit out 100 million litres of water an hour to keep the headland from glowing.



Nearby is a structure that glows on purpose.


Geometers ('anglers', informally) take note: an attractive venue for party-goers who dig an isosceles vibe. The bollard in the background to the left is the old lighthouse, literally eclipsed by the power station.


This being the coast, there was a boat or two


industrial grade shingle


and hermit crabs.


I didn't take any pictures in Rye. Here's Henry James, who lived there:

see his tattoo (

This was billed as a Cinque Port ride. We got deux: New Romney, as was before its harbour was silted up by outrageous EU decree, and Rye.

"On his Rural Rides of 1823 ( William Cobbett dismissed the canal as a great military folly and a waste of public money; he was much more impressed by the Romney Marsh sheep."


A swain ( was sighted but drifted deceptively quickly out of shot.

Other than a wistful reminder of a certain special home secretary (, which I refuse to remove out of principle, my skin is devoid of ink unless there's been an uncapped ballpoint.

James wrote The Turn of the Screw in Lamb House, owned by the National Trust. Contrary to popular belief you don't have to own a beige jumper to join.

That was the 2nd eschewing in this thread.
Title: Singing in the rain
Post by: sam on January 01, 2017
I don't go outside my comfort zone very often. Give me a route I've done a thousand times so I can fly on auto-pilot; looking out the windows, sure, but mostly thinking about anything other than cycling. It's not boring, it's… comfortable.

The first day of a new year demands ride time. The forecast appeared to offer a dry slot opening briefly in the afternoon, so I went for it. About halfway through, atop Jack's Hill, the slot closed after toying with me for a few miles.

I don't use waterproofs anymore. I'm simply not interested in launching myself into the rain. Those mudguards are for wet roads but dry skies. I wear a fleece. It dries almost as soon as something as outrageous as raindrops hit it, provided they aren't too fat. My shorts ( aren't quite as carefree, but can hold out for a little while before getting clammy. It's my shoes that suffer. If there's a quality I admire in a shoe, it's – you guessed it – comfort. Historically I am satisfied with what I have until it's in tatters and then some.

Were this a fleeting shower I probably would've holed up in the church and skimmed the diocese bulletins or, heaven forbid, the massive bible ( anchoring the lecturn on this mortal earth. But it looked to be settled into the horizon, so I heaved a sigh and carried on.

"Where nature doesn't provide..." Taking my own advice (

I was going to write that there are five stages of riding in the rain, if only because the Kübler-Ross model ( is such a reliable trope, but there were only two: denial and acceptance. Denial didn't last long, even a Doubting Thomas knows he's getting wet, then wetter. Acceptance came quickly. It's only rain. In fact it kind of feels nice. And it did. I used the opportunity to wisely inform myelf that's it's good to go outside your comfort zone once in a while, even as gentle an immersion as this.

As I picked up speed going down the long hill, collecting dampness, my personal zoning committee grew restive. I flirted briefly with disgust, a stage I've just made up, but didn't put any real effort into getting miserable. My earphones were still working fine, and the sandwich bag for my ipod – the one concession I make to adverse local weather conditions like sweat – was doing its job. Music is a very effective mood enhancer. To tip the balance into good cheer, I passed a couple of cyclists stalled under the boughs of a Chinese water torture tree (they're all Chinese water torture trees). Flagrant stoicism spills more endorphins into the bloodstream.

Home stretch, high on the high street. Happy new year, bitch, I channelled Jesse. ( (Well, I didn't then, but am now, due to residual Breaking Bad references ( in my system.) As we break in a new calendar, it's good to be singing in the rain, looking forward to dancing on my pedals in the sun.
Title: Velosolo math
Post by: sam on February 14, 2017
Club run cut short yesterday. Puncture. Filthy bike. Wimp.

I had just passed a woman I know from the road, a fellow cyclist in this land of so few except weekenders, walking down the hill I was honking up. At the summit I realised the air was abandoning my rear tyre. Only two miles home, so decided to turn around and walk it in preference to getting my hands and probably clothes dirty. Nice day for it.

Slow leak turns out to be not so slow after all. “Wait!” I want to yell to the woman now a few hundred meters ahead of me. I know approximately where she lives, hope she’ll allow my bike shelter in her garage while I hoof it back for the car. Shoulder my steed (a cowboy carrying his lame horse to the ranch?) and make an ungainly run for it. Catch her just as she’s approaching her front door.

Breathless request follows. Quickly accepted. I half jog half walk home. Drive back, have a nice chat with Valerie, it turns out her name is. Has never owned a car lo these 70 (wild guess) years on earth.

As I cross the street to my nearby car to load the bike in, I can sense that the people who apparently usually park there, having just arrived home, are radiating disapproval at the effrontery of the invasion of ‘their' space. I apologise and say I’ll be gone in a tick. Forgiveness is not forthcoming. Ah well. + Friend - enemy = nil for the day?
Title: Velosolo Club
Post by: sam on December 06, 2017
Yesterday my chapter of the club adopted a non-binding helmet resolution, until those straps were fastened and I shoved off, at which point it became very binding indeed, there being no interest in turning it into a plant hanger on my handlebars down the road.

This was the first time I’ve worn a helmet in 17 years. Cicadas will be wondering what the fuss is about. Impressions:

– It kept my head warm. I’ve got hair for that, so a little too warm. This was a chilly afternoon in December; wearing one of these in the summer doesn’t bear thinking about.


– After my recent off, ( which prompted this experiment, I will admit that it gave me a feeling of reassurance. As dusk deepened, the power of the talisman crouched on my head slowly evaporated. Hilly rides on badly dressed lanes at suboptimal scanning resolution always make me cautious anyway.
– The straps actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would. They weren’t cinched tight enough to garrote, at any rate.

At one point I swept by Valerie from the post above, who regularly transports herself in what looks like rigid terror, helmeted obviously, bike equipped with a horizontal give-cyclists-room stick with a reflector on it (I’m most definitely not poking fun), and wondered if she even recognised me.

I felt self-conscious. Truly, almost nobody cares if I wear a lid or not, though doubtless a few observers of my regular club runs tut at my normally hairfree ways. Heaven only knows how many Darwin Awards I’ve been given by the safety vest wearing village speed monitors as I cruise past bare headed, drably dressed, no-handed (now that’s just taking the piss), ears sprouting music vines…

Special note: I wanted so badly to add a picture of the Indiana Jones hat grab, with a helmet instead. Couldn't pull it off.
Title: Velosolo Club
Post by: sam on December 07, 2017
( (

I got the helmet out, mindful of the film of chaos the gales had left on the roads. Then I reconsidered and set it aside, not wanting to turn it into the source of the confidence I still needed to reclaim.

It turns out to have been my first ride since the off that I felt truly relaxed and happy. I already knew a helmet could be an article of faith; who knew it could be a bandage.
Title: The Wrongmove Ride
Post by: sam on December 10, 2017
The latest club run was dubbed the Rightmove Ride. It involved visiting houses which got more than a passing glance in our doomed search to move out of rented accommodation.

The first one on the itinerary is a few miles down the road from us, in a small commuter village. Honestly we aren’t even considering this, for several reasons, including that the price is so absurd. As if that distinguishes it from any of the others. I only stopped by to get my eyes rolling:


It’s the second Sky dish from the right. Price: £280,000 (I’m going to be including all the zeroes). Last sold in November 2013 for £165,000. Decent salary for a house.

The next village on the itinerary features this ivy-covered barely-detached "well presented" mortgage guzzler wedged into the uncomfortably close close on Acorn Way, naturally branching off Great Oak. It's on @ £325,000, which is too much for the likes of us, but it's been on the market for some time now, they might be willing to consider cheeky offers on their cheeky asking price. As if.


On the nearby main road is this, for £220,000, which is still way too much for what it is, but less of a budget buster:


Street parking only. Next.

£275,000 will buy this semi-d(eluded), which has had a refurb in a sorry attempt to justify the massive profit margin desired. Not sure if that included the fence to keep the neighours at bay.


Also no parking.

Ah, here's a bungalow in a neighbourhood in which ball playing has never been an issue. We like bungalows, especially ones that have been languishing in the listings:


But what's this in the back? Time to call Gardeners’ Question Time?


We'd rather take the £325,000 we don't have and spend it on something offering less in the way of Japanese Knotweed. How about this one down the lanes?


Grade II listed. Knotweed might be preferable.

Notice what’s been missing? Outstanding Natural Beauty, which we live in an official Area of. Sure, it may be on the doorstep, but we're used to having it in our living room.


As renters, we live in what you might call the deceptively cheap seats. I still remember how upon moving down to this part of East Sussex an estate agent told us we couldn’t afford “the Sussex lifestyle” (she didn’t mean Hastings, which she must have felt was reassuringly distant). She wasn’t so gauche as to actually accuse us of relative poverty, but it was clear from our budget, which hasn’t changed much even as the landscape on Rightmove has.

You know who can afford the Sussex lifestyle, besides London downsizers and locals who got here first? Rock-n-rollers.


That’s Roger Daltry’s pad, which I finally located. (

The house we found ourselves in used to belong to a gentleman who had a lot more money than a pinball wizard, but he’s dead now. Still has a nice view.


It has since passed on to a trust. There's actually an agricultural tie on it, which nobody told us about – thus we took up residence in an unintentional lie. Rescuing sheep ( from fences from time to time doesn’t qualify as agricultural employment. We only learned of the tie recently; also of the fact that as long-time occupiers it no longer applies to us.

We’d like to live the rest of our lives here, ( and if we find a magical money tree, maybe we will. Meanwhile we’ve belatedly started to look for something a little less rent increasey. We missed the boat, thanks in part to the savings trap ( which has been known to ensnare poor fools lacking conventional wisdom.


Coming to the end of the ride now. This 2 bedroom bungalow can be ours for £350,000-375,000,


which as I may have intimated we don't have, so never mind. Freeman Forman, you're the bane of my existence.

The only properties which regularly appear at prices in our budget range are Home Wise teasers, park homes, and flats. Home Wise can sod off, park homes are not even technically houses, and leaseholds are as inviting as a certain herbaceous perennial plant. A nearby block of flats offers the aquatic lifestyle,


but we’ve already got that.


Or did, until the neighbours rescinded our pool pass because they ran out of money to maintain the thing. I guess we're all feeling the pinch.

Well, that’s the end of the wrongmove ride. Time to head home. Where the heart is.

Title: brain bucket bingo
Post by: sam on June 23, 2018
"You're brave not to wear a helmet," said the cyclist during our brief encounter while scaling my usual hill. "I've crashed three times. It saved my life."

Served up by my ipod on the way back down: something fortunately not apropos. (
Title: A death in the afternoon
Post by: sam on November 05, 2018
There's a branch hanging low over the road. It's the same one I saw and easily avoided two days ago, wondering at the time if I should be a good citizen and try to bring it down. Guess I figured that somebody else always takes care of these things. I also had a vague notion that no good deed goes unpunished; it was big, so I could hurt myself, and on a blind bend, all the better to be hit by an inattentive motorist.

This afternoon I’m wool-gathering

barbed wire is not recommended for this (

so only notice it just as it’s about to bring me down. I duck but it still grazes the top of my head. I think right, got to do something about this, and so set the bike against the hedge and approach the broken limb.

It's about 10 feet long. My first tug tells me it’s holding on tight. I then take it by its arms and we do a twirling dance. A few twists and it’s off. I heave it over the hedge, then get back on the bike.

A deer ( suddenly appears up ahead.


Then another and another. Fastest pay it forward ever? If I hadn't stopped, we could’ve been meeting for our own dance. (Not sure about the timing, but I’m going with it anyway, for the sake of this post.)

A few miles later there’s another one, broken neck turning him into a swan in death. Bloody hell. ( I almost feel like paparazzo snapping a dead Diana.


What with me, my bike, and a dead deer on the side of the road,


soon we have company. A man with a van pulls over, gets out, and promptly informs me "He's alive." I tell him I really don't think so. "But his chest is moving," he asserts. I would suggest the flies swirling around are giving the illusion of motion, but he's already put his hand on its ribs. "I guess not," he finally says, then heads off with a little wave.

Closer to home I meet a small herd of cows clomping down the lane. They stall as they approach me. Nothing the farmer shouts changes their minds, so he puts them in reverse for me to go by. He thanks me for waiting, suggests they must have been frightened by my wheels. It's a cheap wheelset, I have to agree, but hasn't given me problems.

Title: The unintended gauntlet
Post by: sam on March 05, 2019
The club officially frowns on competition, as an emphasis on the sportier side of cycling is not conducive to a relaxed atmosphere.

And yet.

I am considered, at least in my household, to be KOM title holder of Kings Hill Road in Burwash. This despite not being jacked into that cyclist supercomputer (I don’t even use the little ones ( that go on the handlebars). I hold this title by virtue of the fact that nobody is allowed to beat me up it. “Nobody” is admittedly a small sampling given that I run into relatively few of our kind around here, and does not include those who have indeed beaten me to the top on statistically insignificant occasions.

This is how it usually goes:

• If cyclist is spotted ahead of me, take note of whether the gap is closing. If so, go for it: victory is almost certainly assured.

• If cyclist is noticed behind me, this becomes a good time to have a swig of water: the better to gauge the potential usurper’s fitness level. Only amateurs kick it into high gear before knowing this crucial bit of information. Given that I have ascended this hill literally thousands of times now, I know exactly when to press my advantage.

It is then polite to acknowledge the vanquished. At this point the more observant will laud me for riding a fixed gear, which of course I correct.

• Relax, hoping I haven’t triggered exercise-induced asthma.


Today’s ride brought the unexpected: another cyclist passed me as we were nearing the summit. He appeared out of thin air, which surely wasn’t a good sign. I had the reserves to sail by him before we hit the peak, though he did slightly take the wind out those sails by cruising past once we had plateaued. He remained silent to my innocuous sally as I passed.

If it please m’lord, I often chide myself over my victories, granting that my opponents may be halfway through a century while my daily rides are considerably more modest. Who knows where this guy had come from, or where he was going, besides the record books.

Fortunately the road ahead was to provide a more satisfying encounter.

Another hill, much less lofty but of the sting-in-the-tail variety. On the lower slopes I was stopped anyway, to have a drink, when I heard a cheerful trio chatting about base layers. “Mind if I hang on to you guys?” I asked the tail-end-by-a-few-feet-Charlie. Permission was cheerfully granted.

They were fit and lithe to the point I felt comparatively Rubenesque, but I reckoned I could take them. Sure enough, as we approached the sting, they slowed to a satisfying crawl. Still, I bided my time, to be absolutely sure: ignominy in a group setting was not my goal here.

It got steeper, they got slower, I grew surer. I made my move. Victory was sweeter when one of them mentioned my lack of gears, to which another observed that it didn't seem to be slowing me down, or praise to that effect; I don't remember exactly, I was bathing in the afterglow.

It didn't even set off a coughing fit.

Title: The final frontier
Post by: sam on March 12, 2019
casual wear

A little while ago I violated Club protocol by advertising for volunteers to join me on jaunts around the local area, taking care not to inform them of their possible medicinal ( qualities. The result was underwhelming: 1 interested party. There was enough information about him online that I quickly judged him someone I'd rather avoid, instead of go out of my way to meet up with. His crime? Using London house sale money to help further inflate the market in these parts.


We've got quite enough greedheads as it is without importing enablers.

Until the background check it hadn't even occurred to me that I have a litmus test. It might be wise to make a list, to avoid future awkwardness. This isn't in any particular order, unless you count numerical:

1. No fixies. The non-freewheeling drivetrain attracts far too many deplorables. I've only seen one since moving down here, though people say they're going down to London, so I'm no longer sure which way is up, compass-wise, assuming north is still north. I don't think he was deplorable, but can't take that chance.

2. No fancy carbon-fibre bikes. Horses for courses sure, but does that mean the horse has to be ugly? If you can't shoot it, at least keep it out of my line of sight. I will adjudicate what's fancy and/or ugly in a fair and responsible way.

3. Absolutely no disc brakes. I'm sorry, they make me nervous. I've heard they can slice a man in two.


4. Must dress conservatively. That means no distracting logos (decided on a case by case basis) or excessively aerodynamic sunglasses.

5. Any occupation is fine, except estate agent.


This should really go without saying.

6. If we stop long enough for lunch, no pictures of your food, especially sausages, to share on social media. Unless they're really good pictures, which is exceedingly unlikely, sorry.

7. Don't yell "on your left!" or "on your right!" I don't know what these things mean in the heat of the moment.

8. There will be a political questionnaire. I don't care what your politics are, I just like asking questions. ( Note however if they turn out to be odious, there will be consequences.

9. Be willing to post about rides on this site. Listen, I know it seems pointless spending potentially valuable time composing interesting and witty stories that probably nobody except me is going to read. What am I, chopped liver? At least crosspost, with a timestamp in our favour.

10. Must have a sense of humour verifiable outside peer group. This is sufficiently far down the list it shouldn't be confused with an ad on Plenty of Fish. Still, life is too short to be waiting for a candidate to completely change his or her personality.

11. Obligatory Spinal Tap reference (here's another ( for good measure). As anybody woke will tell you, not funny. Those things hurt.

It strikes me that if I adhere faithfully to the principles laid out above, I’m destined to continue my solo career.

Dear Reader
We interrupt this thread about solo cycling to bring you a message about solo posting.

Here's a blast from the past to set the mood ( I’ll wait.
Is that clock actually ticking?


Now a screenshot from the admin section of this site:

1. Been there, ( done that.
2. A state of equilibrium has been reached.
3. Redefining site stickiness.
4. These numbers are a little wonky, unless the stats facility is rounding down.
5. This is me.
6. This is he. (
7. aka 1-2-3
8. Also been there done that. I don't recommend it.

This isn’t a mean and sheam exercise, and not just because we have no prawneds (belated anagram alert). It's an illustration of the reality I face every time I decide to post here.

As an inveterate forum talent scout, it used to frustrate me that I couldn’t scoop people up and deposit them into clearly classier digs; and that those who had crossed the road ( seemed inexplicably to be unwilling to settle in. But there’s nothing baffling about choosing to spend your time where you can rub shoulders with fewer crickets: with actual friends, even.

What can happen when you google crustacean rather than frustration

I use social media primarily to help me indulge my passion for playing with words and pictures. One example is Please stay, ( where the observant will note that care has been taken to establish a visual theme


even as this post continues another; ( call it blog cross pollination.
Dancing with oneself
Despite that the song ( is about what it says on the tin, one accepts the culturally applied meaning.


I’m no friend to amoral data hungry beasts ( whose only interest in me is my resale value. ‘Instagram influencer (’ of any rank will never be on my CV. I don't even Strava. My credentials as an anomalous social media specimen are rounded out by distaste for the cheap baubles of smileys and likes, ( as well as an (antisocial?) aversion to happymemes ( (unless it's one of mine ( This grouch ( isn't entirely a figment of my imagination. You get the picture. is probably the best fit. Such a pity that way leads to the writers conclave ( witches coven – or so I imagine is the chilling end of Followers.

This Simple Machines Forum is a typewriter in a room of my own. It has a panopticonic ( view. Next time you pass by, if you see me waving, I’m not drowning but stretching.

Sam the singularity (

Darlings killed ____
Title: High Weald Drifters
Post by: sam on May 06, 2019
Getting an early start on the bank holiday: (

Title: Dance macabre
Post by: sam on June 04, 2019
Another death, another afternoon. Heading out for a ride, I'm unlucky enough to be just in time to witness a young rabbit get hit by a car. He dances that crazy dance, blood hemorrhaging in his head. It's horrific.

Not wishing to see him flattened ( into his own temporary grave marker, I head back for the shovel. By the time I've returned, it's too late, but I do the job as best I can. Call me soft, I'm not built for this. (

I don't do 'rainbow bridge'. He's gone. I drive too, ( but fuck you, cars.

At least as a cyclist if you hit something there’s the possibility it could take you down as well, which is only fair.
Title: Hill in three acts
Post by: sam on June 23, 2019

Danger of death, but OK

That's a bit harsh
Title: Living in the moment
Post by: sam on June 28, 2019
If this life is one act (
Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

Nothing feels freer than freewheelin ( at night all by your selfie.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 worry-free seconds, you’re a better man than me

Here's a shameful fact: I'm afraid of the dark. ( It’s spooky. My Lezyne ( nightlight helps, but doesn’t completely dispel the ancient sense of unease at being prey to things you cannot see. Like zombies, ( of course. I should know: at times I’m so tired I become one.

During my most recent nocturnal cycle, it struck me that I simply must get a picture of Rudyard Kipling with my simple (

When I arrived at his unlit bench in the smallest of small hours I was struck by how realistic he seemed, patiently keeping watch on the deserted high street. There was no way I was going to sit next to him (he looked uncannily undead without the flash spoiling the effect) and discover that I was running so far into sleep deficit I had started hearing voices; perhaps even one offering wise counsel, delivered with a paternal arm around my shoulders, about getting decent kip for a change.

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

That's jolly good advice. However, I don't have to make up the fact that I have hypertension, which can lead to worrisome ailments that can indeed happen to me. Getting more sleep would help. (Enough with the nannying, brain, I get it.) If only insomnia wasn't so damn clarifying sometimes.

So I just let go of what I know I don't know
And I know I only do this by
Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

Well, almost. Home is only a 5 minute ride down the road. First I must obey all traffic laws.


I am indeed feeling peaceful. Easy and breezy, for that matter. Everything my ipod throws at me provides food for thought that seems eerily made to order,* as well as offering an opportunity for a hearty singalong. (

Living in the moment...

It goes on, lyrical hooks in deep. I think about how animals like the badger I just saw scuttling into a hedge, and the rabbit ( currently snoozing behind my couch, must live in the moment. Wherever he goes, he's already home, too. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he also has hypertension.

The next song on my playlist is, believe it or not, Welcome Back. ( (Yes, Kotter. ( "What do you make of that?" asks Rudyard as I take my leave. Beats me.

*I chose the playlist,  (


Hey, that's not Mandy. (It's not Theresa, ( either.) Christine, wouldn't you be more comfortable on, I don't know, a bench?
Title: Redefining need
Post by: sam on July 03, 2019
This morning it’s the philosophical musings of Mick Jagger which direct my thoughts. I won’t do a complete line reading, but as a pragmatic yet upbeat statement,

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

takes some beating.

Wildlife tally included a fox, cats having a conference of some sort, and a bat who graduated at the bottom of his echolocation class. My day rides usually feature somewhat more cumbersome creatures.
Last seen contemplating the uses to which four stomachs could be put

I hope my sonar is working properly for the upcoming Eastbourne FNRttC, ( my first in years; when the coast is clear I have been known to drop behind in stealth mode, content with moonlight and tail lights.

The ride has personal significance for reasons other than opportunities it may present for being naughty. It is my plan to cease the insane sugar fast ( I've had going for (checks calendar) 235 days now. If I don't I may blow a fifty-amp fuse. A taxing ride o'er hills provides the perfect excuse to zap any lingering sense of guilt over the seriously unhealthy breakfast I have planned.

Dream team

Please don't judge me.


Note to self: remember to actually bring the highly processed rice-based drink, without which the moment will not be complete. More easily sourced cow juice just won't do:

Title: Thunderbolt & Litespeed
Post by: sam on July 26, 2019
The creaky Litespeed and I have unfinished business. Despite giving up ( on finding the source of the maddening noise, I haven't. Quite given up, that is. Could it be as simple as a dab of oil on the rusty water bottle cage bolts currently welded to the bottom of the downtube? No. Annoyed, I consign the bike back to its stall of shame and bring out the usual Enigma for tonight's ride.
New Club rule: take lightning seriously.

After a day of serious sun, the Sussex earth is in cooldown mode. There are flashes far enough away that thunder can’t follow. I’m not worried. (

Around Brightling, the king of the hill ( around here, a few raindrops fall from the stars. Outliers, I figure. A little further along there are more drops. Then lots more. This is starting to look like a bad idea.

I pick a tree and wait, little caring that you're not supposed to hide under trees – why would Zeus choose mine in particular? The lightning is still not bringing thunder with it, until it is. It rains harder. I turn off my light, carefully set the bike on the road, then sit down beside it.

My leafy umbrella proves fit for purpose, no Chinese water torture. It’s about 3 in the morning. I try to relax, with partial success. This is solitude at its most exquisite: all very fine except for my predicament of not knowing how long the storm will last. At one point I hear a loud noise like a large slavering beast or a pack of wild things pushing aside bushes and trees to find a snack cross-legged on the lane.


They pass, possibly making a meal of the alpaca ( not far away. I think about cyclists who have gone off on world tours and find themselves down a lonely road in the middle of Tibet or somewhere. Take my camera out and create my own lightning for selfies, mostly blurry. Turn the camera on the bike:

Yes, light back on. Well spotted.

It suddenly occurs to me that I have a phone, and a few shows downloaded. Nature is wonderful (when it's not red in tooth and claw), but I’ll take the nurturing of Netflix.

Voyage into better than good badness. ( How the theme song got on my ipod shuffle I do not know.

After a little while the rain stops. (I’m on record ( about not liking to get this bike wet.) Electricity, however, is still making the rounds from heavenly firmament to earth, unless that’s the other way around (

I’m going to have to ride through some high exposed ground to get home. This does not appeal. I decide to do it anyway, thinking I’d have to be pretty unlucky… which happens, doesn’t it. And not always to somebody else.

Needless to say I make it back, just as the drops get fulsome. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Title: I love the nightlife
Post by: sam on July 30, 2019
I bumped into a zombie the other night. Despite an overactive imagination, it was the last thing I expected.

Somewhere beyond the pavement, you'll find the living dead (

He was walking along a pitch black lane from the church to the village. Appearing suddenly in my headlight, he didn’t flinch, but I nearly did. I say from the church, because that’s the historical anchor of the small group of houses, but had the hour been closer to last drinks, I expect he would've been a straggler from the pub so convenient to St. Mary the Virgin. If he wasn't a zombie, that is.


We didn’t exchange pleasantries; it happened so fast, I might’ve otherwise, but I was plugged in listening to something or the other, ( and he didn’t appear chatty in any case. He was holding his arms at his sides, which is admittedly unzombielike, but it may have been he wasn't feeling peckish at the moment.
Title: WOLS
Post by: sam on August 08, 2019
Having lately posted of the joys of night riding, quite by accident I have discovered the pleasures of dawn.


You’d think this would have happened naturally, for example as the expected reward of a Friday night ride to the coast, but it hasn’t; the dawn, to me at least, has been strangely indistinguishable from the darkness that has crept away from it. But actually starting in the glow of a new day? That’s something I haven’t done on purpose.

Is this how my eyes see things before my brain turns them around?

I simply worked a bit later one night, missing my usual 3 to 5 ( slot. That's all. Revelation ensued.

The beauty of riding at daybreak, in addition to the obvious beauty – imagine being paced by a deer running through a meadow in a new morning's mist, which sounds impossibly twee until you've experienced it – is that the roads are still quiet, and I can go a bit faster if I so please (caution taking the lead in the dark).

Plus fewer zombies.
Title: The End is nigh
Post by: sam on August 19, 2019
The club had every intention of being subsumed by a Spooky Sunday London Ride ( for the day, but it was not to be. Two ghosts in – Lillie Langtry is said to haunt the Cadogan Hotel  ( in search of who knows what, possibly the witty Wilde or yet another sugar daddy – I took refuge under a water torture tree on the edge of Hyde Park rather than soak up the unexpected deluge...

The morning began with a game of bride-spotting near St. Paul's Cathedral.

The tart cards ( add verisimilitude

I used to live a few minutes walk away from the wobbly bridge, ( and was reminded how peaceful the City can be out of office hours. Naturally I tuned out the quiet straight away. Urban cycling wants a soundtrack.

Regent Street wasn't quite as I remembered it.

Turf's up

Arrived at Speakers' Corner with George Thorogood's Bad to the Bone ( ringing in my ears. The money-changers may have been home observing the Sabbath, perhaps practicing squeezing through the eye of that needle serving as their purported gateway to heaven, but the big guy's emissary had shown up for work:

( (

"When you’re riding your bike you’re going to say Yahweh!" he told me after I lent him an ear and headed off, not before catching sight of


another likely suspect. (

Ross the ride organiser had suggested a visit to the comfort station in the park if necessary, but I rebel at paying

They should be paying me! (

so used the facilities next door,


which required a near crawl and presented me with


what any children reading this should be informed is an inner tube patch wrapper.

The start was held up by a regiment of horse whisperers.

The feel good move of the year is whatever you were too busy being comforted with to actually watch

I made a mental note to get a picture of Ross’s jazzy jersey at some point. As that point was not to arrive, here’s one I’ve shamelessly lifted: (


The first stop in the tour was a ghost in a ghost, a somewhat insubstantial sighting in a disused tube station. Next came the Cadogan, where Mr. Woilde ( enjoyed room service until the perverse law came calling, and The Jersey Lillie ( got the ultimate meal deal.

Agreed: life is far too important a thing to ever talk seriously about

Peacock tease

Room service ( in more or less enlightened times (viewer discretion advised) (

The rain, which had lightly tattooed us at the Royal Artillery Memorial (the club took refuge under Wellington Arch),

Honi soit qui mal y pense ( = Shame on him who thinks evil. Does that include naughty tweets? (

then came down in earnest. Staying put under nature's lightning rod, I watched the rest of them depart, feeling guilty for not having told our leader I was dropping out, but it was a decision made very quickly as he dived back in. Why get wet telling him something he’s going to figure out for himself anyway? Or so I told my conscience.

I don't know what species of tree it was, but it sure as hell wasn't waterproof. After a long while I said to myself and any squirrels who were listening ʞɔnℲ this, can’t trust nature, need something man-made.

I made a dash for the portico of what turned out to be the embassy of Kuwait. Unsure of their human rights record, specifically as regards loiterers, I then opted for the nearby Franco-British Society, before settling myself under sturdy looking construction across the street.

A cyclist came by riding on two flat tyres. His chain jammed, so he grabbed it with his bare hands, put it back on track, and continued completely unflustered.

A fellow traveller?

The rain finally abated. Though this little slice of Knightsbridge offered the choice of Ishbilia Authentic Lebanese Cuisine, an Iraqi version of same, and Italian, I took my lunch ( just off the Regent Street greening. I can resist everything but temptation. (

Several museums followed.

They called it a draw

She was touched her twin had remembered her birthday

Yo, play some Jethro Tull (this caption brought to you by Breaking Bad (

He doesn't want you till you're done

Either perspective hadn't been invented yet, or those were titbits before the next fast

What they mean when they say there's no there there (

Brother can you spare ( an oh brother

Where's Yahweh when you need him (

I also caught a protest across from that other museum (

I tawt I taw a puddy tat

Unintentional irony

Different protest, ( but throw in lunch and he’ll add a theatrical flourish to yours, too

pondered truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance at Trafalgar Square


considered if the music was really as bad as that monk seemed to think it was


waited in vain for Mr Shadow to shift from over the Kuwaiti flag


snapped a selfie


kept out of range of the ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal Pikachu of Pokémon


demurred (

Power to the people (

and gazed up (,_Trafalgar_Square) in wonder at what may be Yoda's ride out of here, ( if the Nat'l Gallery ever get their way

The End is nigh (

BOO! (
Title: Nice to see you
Post by: sam on February 05, 2020
Yesterday I struck up a conversation with a couple of bystanders on my regular ride up to the pyramid. ( One of them recognised me, which isn’t surprising, as I’ve been going past his house for many years. "I like your bike," he said. I was then obliged to tell him about my cherished collection of tubes


click to be a frame builder
made not far away by the boys from Enigma. "Is it fixed?" he asked, bumping him into a different category of bystander. No, it's the antidote to fixed.

We chatted about hills, pondered if electric bikes are cheating (our little jury ruled that it’s not),

Verdict: not cheating (

and parted no longer complete strangers, which was the point. I’m sure a great many motorists aren’t best pleased to see a cyclist in front of them on the lanes. It’s good to put a face to the obstacle.

I nodded hello to the alpacas a little farther along,

"Nice to see you, to see you nice"

gave the impressionable youth walking home from school an unhelmeted, earphone-wearing role model, broke the speed limit down a short reduced speed stretch of the A21 (where nobody goes 20mph, not even cyclists), waved to Peter rolling along in his powered wheelchair, and arrived home buzzing with my own electricity generated from another club run.
Title: Velosolo Club
Post by: sam on March 26, 2020

If there’s an upside to all this, it’s seeing people out enjoying the sun who would usually be stuck at work. No shortage of smiles and greetings, keeping well away from each other of course, this event’s unique twist on conviviality.

Why climb hills? ( In part, to go back down them. To celebrate the beauty of the day and the pleasure of being healthily alive I made my descent no-handed for a spell, giving nodded greetings as and when. Then it suddenly struck me what this must look like to any critics observing my ode to joy: ( how irresponsible, do you want to end up in hospital?!?

This voice inside my head had a point. It did little good to argue that I’m probably safer riding this way than you are with all hands on deck, Mr Probably-Doesn't–Like-Cyclists-Anyway-Voice: God knows I don’t want to come off, so I chose my moments carefully, gauging road condition, windspeed, and likelihood of being attacked by magpies ( (a tough call, but then I've never tried to punch a bird in the mouth). Still, it slightly dampened my spirits, and did serve as a reminder that yes, I’d damned well better be careful.

Also, does freewheeling count as exercise, or is a citizen’s arrest in the offing?

In Burwash I stopped for a selfie,


a reminder that a) I'd decided to cancel my appointment last week, and b) collectively we’re going to be growing a lot of hair depending how long this goes on.

Down the street Mr Kipling kept a bushy eyebrow cocked over the proceedings.

Exceedingly nice bike
Title: Velosolo Club
Post by: sam on March 28, 2020
Loveseat in the time of Corona
Title: Blowin' in the wind
Post by: sam on March 29, 2020
I had no special plans for the day, but it turns out the day had plans for me.

Art imitating life

Rain was forecast. Time enough for a ride first, so I headed out into what all available evidence suggested was an exceedingly windy morning. Big deal, I thought, I’ll just burn more calories.

I headed down the lanes then up King’s Hill Road out of Burwash with a fair amount of energy in my legs, feeling fine, singing along with my ipod when it was clear the voices in my ears weren't classically trained. Was amused that somebody had gone to the trouble of pointing the loveseat south, as if tired of a view of scrubby vegetation.

The road less travelled

Past the observatory (one of Jack Fuller’s less frivolous follies (, nearing the large pyramid-shaped collection box,


I began to hear something.

( (
Sardonic lyrics, maybe?

It sounded like the front wheel was rubbing with every revolution. I got off to to examine the situation, saw nothing. On again, then quickly off again as This Would Not Do. It definitely seemed to be coming from the front, but in case my ears were deceiving me, a look at the rear tyre, a two month old Continental Grand Prix 5000, was in order. The brand is important here.


Well, I knew what it was – a nasty blowout avoided – but what was it doing on such a new acquisition? Fortunately I remembered there was an emergency boot in my saddlebag. In all my years of riding I’d never needed it. Which is to say, I had no idea how to use it. Couldn’t be too hard, right?

I situated myself near a stone wall which offered no protection from the now quite ferocious wind and got to work.

Poor teeth

Lezyne, your tyme is icumen

The tyre, surprisingly easy to go on, was more reluctant to come off. It turned into what I’m going to call a three-pipe problem, because nobody’s stopping me.

Needed one hand to hold the camera, didn’t I

When I got to the boot part of the exercise I was unexpectedly flustered by the question of how to actually install it. One side seemed sticky, but it wasn’t doing a very good job of sticking. Of all the things not to have Googled in my life. Still, should be able to bung it in. This I prepared to do as the skies darkened in foreshadowing.

“Are you all right? Do you have everything you need?” said a passing cyclist as I was hunched over, my head bent as if in prayer. I was OK, but thanks! Don’t get too close!!

A minute or so later I felt a drop of wet, then another. Great. The church wasn’t far away, but would the porch be open given the sneaky wrath of god currently enveloping the globe? A few more drops decided me. I hurriedly stuffed all my paraphernalia into the saddlebag, shouldered the bike, grabbed the rear wheel, and hoped fervently.

As I neared St. Thomas a Becket, thousands of delicate blossoms started swirling from the sky. Blossoms? No, that was SNOW. If this wasn’t a sign from above that I should’ve stayed home and carried on with season 2 of The Sinner (I want to be Bill Pullman when I grow up, preferably without the masochism), I don’t know what was.

File photo of inspired detective work

Still, if by miracle it was open, my plan was to install the boot and at least ride back home, an easy 7 miles given how hard the first 7 miles are.

The church was predictably locked down. There were no other helpful structures in the vicinity.

The flowers were pretty though

The bells started ringing, adding ambience.

Not to be confused with campagnology

The snow had stopped but it was bloody cold, and the sky was disinclined to reassure. This decided me: time to throw in the towel. There was just enough of a signal to call emergency services, i.e., my wife. If nothing else, this near incident was a sobering reminder of the danger of offs ( in these times.

I put the tyre back on the wheel sans tube, gathered my belongings, and went to a more visible place to await rescue.

She apologised for being late. Someone who shall remain anonymous had, as usual, set the handbrake ( too high, necessitating a wrestling match before rescue operations could commence.

Nearly hoist by your own handbrake there, mate

All that’s left to do now is sell this: brand new, hasn't let me down yet.

Going, going…
Title: Roger Wilco
Post by: sam on March 31, 2020
It’s been a while since I’ve experienced the thrill of falling for a hill. This one is called Peartree Hill,

Here there be partridges

and it goes right by my close friend* Roger Daltrey (’s house. (*Who do you think inspired this song? ( Listen carefully to the lyrics. That could be anybody.)

"Come back mate, all is forgiven"

Yesterday’s ride started from home, like all my rides except when we’re on holiday, and we never go on holiday. It was a modest 15-mile loop taking full advantage of Bike Privilege. (

I'm no huge fan of people generally

Us loners are like peas in a pod

I have no problem doing the same routes over and over, because rides aren’t just exercise, they’re an engine to daydreams. They can also be a cyclist’s version of pacing when you’re worrying a problem in your head.

For whatever reason, I took a detour from the norm. Just wanted a change I guess.

Peartree is about 2 miles long, not too arduous but reasonably invigorating if you’re so inclined. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t suffering at all. While a hill addict ( may miss the pain, I took it in my stride.

It undoubtedly helped that traffic was


Still, the gradient was bang on brilliant, and I knew that when I got to the top I could get my speed on for the spin home.

Partway up I spied a man by the side of the road who appeared to be throwing rocks at the other side, either out of boredom or cruelty to a wounded animal, I’ll never know. There was a motorcycle parked nearby. When I got there I felt the need to ask “Everything OK?”, even though my multitool probably wouldn’t be much help. He said “Yeah, I broke down, waiting to be picked up mate.”

I reflected on my own front tyre, baldly in need of replacement. Still thinking… (

I never done you wrong

Roger’s was quiet when I passed.

Inside sulking

Had I turned left I could’ve checked to see how Robert Smith of The Cure is coping in that big white house of his.

What do you mean Chaplin’s is closed? (Scroll three posts up for vital context)

At the playground on the edge of the village green the sound of children’s games and laughter was silenced by heavy-handed writing.

The wind whistled desolately down the slide

My iPod Shuffle served up Tanita Tikaram’s Yodelling Song. I didn't yodel, which may have been an oversight.

The road to Heathfield was almost lifeless. Heathfield itself is, according to garbled Facebook accounts, a zombie plague pit.

Not zombies, just taking in the air

Back through Burwash, the high street lined with houses far beyond my budget, I was reminded of the largesse of the landed gentry.

Pete Townsend sent pudding but it got lost in the post

I haven’t been thinking too much about how long this is going to last. One day at a time. While the riding is good, we otherwise struggle to comply: we all wanna live the way we like.

Title: Root beer rag
Post by: sam on April 04, 2020
This morning’s ride was a short one, just enough to give my underappreciated Langster a taste of the roadtime it deserves and me an excuse to visit with Mr Kipling ( again.


I was wearing a helmet. As if begging this to be used as a classic example of risk compensation, I turned off my front light to truly drink in the splendid peace and quiet.

First stop was the war memorial.


Dr Dann gave me pause. Unless that was a battlefield commission, it’s pretty young to be practicing medicine. Was he practicing, say, philosophy instead? Whichever, his name is indeed living on.


Nearby is our local front line.


My usual GP is now in self isolation. My previous doc – an avid cyclist who always used to be up for a chat on the subject – was due to retire at the end of the month. I don't know if he's decided to stay on.

On the current playlist: Tom Waits in full storytelling mode.

One of my favourite lines in a song ever has got to be “and her hair spilled out like root beer.”

Saw the milkman. What a great job. Wouldn’t be surprised if it required a degree at this point.

On the way home I passed Robin’s house. He’s such an unassuming fellow you’d never know that he once suffered a heart attack and had the brass to drive himself to hospital. Not the sort of man to unnecessarily bother 999, is our Robin.

Nearby lives Mike, ( who thanks to the corona lull I recently discovered used to illustrate comics.


This one’s for Robin, Mike, the milk man, and everyone in lockdown:

Title: Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning
Post by: Clava Scriba on April 05, 2020
The loveseat is gone! Can I be glad and sad at the same time?

What loveseat?

This one:
That speck of blue coming up the road on the left will be challenging me for king of the mountain. ( Or perhaps it was the other way around. “Well done!” he told me as I emerged victorious.


Another hill. If a gentleman wearing a leg brace and riding a fat-tyred bike passes you like you’re standing still, it is not uncharitable to consider that you may not be in possession of all the facts.

Fortunately he headed back down again, so I turned around and caught up with him to offer congratulations.

“I was cheating,” he said, showing off the electric bike that made it possible for him to be out in the first place.

What a relief.


Station car park cleared for a landing.


What a difference a day makes.


I've found the roundabout. Where are the swings?
Title: Born to be alive
Post by: Clava Scriba on April 18, 2020
Had an Easy Rider moment this morning when I saw a guy standing by the side of the road with a shotgun. I assume it was soon to be pointed at nature, and he had a sanctioned rationale, but still.

My playlist included Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead

(better song than the movie)

and a track by REO Speedwagon, thanks to recent Netflixing.

(lots ( of blowing away ( in that show, too)

Met a man walking his lurch



"They’re working dogs," he told me. What sort of work do they do? "Hunt rabbits." Nice enough guy, nice little conversation in this time of keeping our distance, but I secretly wish they'd meet their match, like so:

Passed a Celtic cross staked out in the burial grounds of St. Mary the Rumoured Virgin.


Made a note to revisit and walk the avenues of the departed ( at some point when it’s not verboten.

The bluebells are out in all their glory.


Here’s a family portrait showing off what god or his outsourced labour made earlier:


and here's a gaggle of Spanish lookalikes ( that look like they lost the plot:


The neighbours greeted me with suspicion when I got home.


Wherever we're headed, we're all of us

Title: Mayday miscellany
Post by: Clava Scriba on May 04, 2020
What do you mean it's on the 8th?! ( You shouldn't be multitasking holidays, Powers That Be.

Let's put some sepia in there. (Did people hurt themselves clapping ( back then?)

For those concerned with verisimilitude, the following is a composite ride. It didn't happen all on the same day.


Demo in Trafalgar Square, late 90s. (Just to drive the point home.) I used to carry around a big camera and lens. No more: unless they can prove need, the SLR & 180mm ( stay home.

Great bokeh, bunny


A book I found in the loft...
This post is like ride prep: it can take a while to actually get on the bike.


That's more like it, though it isn't me: it's Peter, who I met as we were both passing through Brightling, the top o' the world around here. We took time out of our busy lockdowns to chat for a few minutes. My lack of gearing came up, as it often does, and I extolled the virtues of the ease of working on a singlespeed bike. As if on cue, my chain popped off.


Another Peter. I run into him from time to time.


Good luck with that.


One source of comfort, I guess.


Too close for comfort mate...

Not even enough room to swing a broom.


Yay! Closed for thee but not for me. Without Covid clearing the roads in the first place, I wouldn't have bothered coming this way and would not be enjoying the use of what is normally a slightly too popular road.


So what this sign is basically saying is "Eat me."


We'll take a coronacheck on that


Casa Daltrey


Pinball wizard


That's right, he's sitting in his own little chair.


2 metres up also works.


Gypsum highway (


What the owner says: "I'm not giving it away." (


Ideal for aspirational first time buyers.


Riding lot

Title: Morning glory
Post by: Clava Scriba on June 02, 2020
I’m not to ride a bike or ejaculate for two days. What a thief of joy my doctor is. He says it will throw off the results of a blood test, but I think he’s just trying to shift old stock from the pharmacy.

Say it ain't so (

Abstinence doesn’t start till tomorrow, which leaves 24 hours to spend storing up memories. Awoke at 2.30 to get a head start, and because sometimes I use lack of sleep as a drug. Chompsky, ever attuned to other creatures stirring in the house (preparing for a bike ride: a bit too much stirring), got up about an hour later to demand an advance on his breakfast. He had his own appointment with the medical establishment scheduled for later in the day.

Nurse, hand me nail trimmers, stat

These early bird specials are heavenly. Traffic is naturally thin on the ground, and dawn’s early light is its own drug. I planned to clock my usual 18 mile route, which is nothing to write home about. In my defence, if such is necessary for the court of Strava, the hilly ribbon of tarmac would surely be twice that if stretched out.

The bike, recently cured of a noisy ailment thanks to a chain transplant, was in fine fettle. We brake for hydration (sucking water from a bare nipple is not my idea of good hygiene) and deer, of which there were a few in need of a lollipop lady.

A milk float and a car in medical livery converged with me at a particularly rural junction, briefly forming an unlikely traffic jam. I yielded, not wishing to delay either an early cup of tea or the fly-tipping of used gallbladders. Later I passed an idling ambulance, no emergency in sight, and made sure to document their displeasure at being used to illustrate this post.

Keep it up and you're going for a ride

Down the last hill, progress was slowed considerably by the urgent need to flesh out this report by any means necessary. I therefore paid a visit to the playground which sits between the church and the train station and which usually attracts more bored teens than children.

'Black Adder' was taken

Don't even think about enjoying yourself here

Clapping won't get that rainbow built

I observed nominative determinism in all its glory,


reflected on mortality,



and tried to avoid stepping into the light just yet.


Those sneaky milk floats will get you every time.
Title: Due south
Post by: Clava Scriba on July 29, 2020
Yesterday I flirted with ignominy by nearly having to walk up a hill and posting about it, ignominy requiring an audience. This isn't the hill in question, but it is a view from the ride:


What are you looking at? Here's a hint:

It's not one of those.

When you go through the same landscape almost every day for years, you might be forgiven a little navel-gazing. My interest was the lay of the land. You see, I have a problem, and it isn’t hills.

My iPod cord has been catching on my abdominal edifice and tugging on my ears. This is one of those situations which sounds inexplicable and bizarre until you find yourself in it.

I run the cord through my shirt and tuck the Shuffle into the pocket of my shorts. (Leaving it out in the breeze is a nonstarter.) While this isn’t ideal given that my skin is oversensitive – I'm not a fan of clothing labels either – one perseveres.

Lately, however, it hasn’t been hanging free and easy, but rather gripping me like a vine, requiring constant readjustment until I somehow get the placement and amount of slack just right. It’s terribly vexing even as it’s one of the less urgent problems in my world.

That picture is documentation of cord placement which was actually working for me. It should be reproducible. (As if.) The ultimate solution is obvious. No need for a prescription ( as I've long been self-medicating, but it looks like a dose of willpower is in order.

Everybody is someone's landscape
Title: Cinéma vérité
Post by: Clava Scriba on July 30, 2020
It's not French, but it is subtitled.

As Velosolo Club secretary, it falls within my job description to caption and archive all video from rides. There isn't much so far. In fact, this is the first

and possibly the last.
Title: They shoot horses don't they
Post by: Clava Scriba on August 14, 2020
A few weeks ago I faced perhaps my toughest challenge yet. It’s taken this long to recover sufficiently to post for posterity. You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Now I know.

It all started when I noticed the trophy case was bare. While this is nice from a dusting standpoint, the lack of goals and achievements weighed on me.

A speed record was out, as I have no measuring devices up to the task. Hillclimbing events are stymied by competitors unaware of the event. Professional bodies don't take note of personal bests in going hands free. ( I was running out of options.

The ride in question began innocently enough on Brokeleg Mountain ( Haremere Hill. This is one of the few ascents in my patch which is easily conquered while staying put in the saddle, though thanks to simplespeed and a certain restlessness, it never takes much to get me dancing on the pedals.

As I climbed, seated for a change, an objective abruptly presented itself: would it be possible to complete my entire circuit in this state?

( (

Spinners, not to mention recumbent owners, do it all the time, but the novelty of the idea for a committed grinder stunned me.

When attacking a hill, the very steepest bits are usually accomplished in a crouch anyway, pulling hard on the handlebars and practically kissing the stem. I predicted a few tricky spots, but it seemed eminently doable.

What I didn’t predict was how my body would soon be screaming from boredom. Even on the flat – and it never stays completely flat around here for long – it took real effort not to at least get up to stretch.

As challenges go, this was clearly one of the stupider ones. (Worth a trophy in itself?) After ten miles or so I felt committed for the next five, and so on. The miles ticked by relatively uneventfully. There was, admittedly, an inch or two of loft on the harshest gradients. The judges allowed it.

I finished the ride triumphantly seated at 30 miles. I'm not going through that hell again.
Title: Fresh
Post by: Clava Scriba on August 27, 2020
The day began with an R-rated ( dream, which we'll come back to.

With rain forecast later in the morning, I opted for a starry ride, leaving my usual hurried note on the fridge whiteboard: art not at all advanced from the efforts of my youth,


along with a clue for any search party.

A familiar route with known hazards is best when it's dark, so I surprised myself by making a left turn where I’d usually make a right. It wasn’t exactly into the unknown, but it would take me down roads less travelled.

A white cat crossed my path. Common sense told me this was a good sign. I didn’t get a picture of the cat, but did of the fish parked in indecision at a singles hangout


and the school of puns.


My ipod is eerily good at scoring my rides.

This put me in mind of those cycling widows ( you occasionally read about. ( A parody is begging to be written. Meanwhile there's this. (

Down the road the road got quite bumpy. I was assured it was temporary.


That dream which woke me just in time at 4am featured a real person in that way dreams sometimes do of putting them in a different body – even though you know it's still them. Providentially rhymes with Harlot. She was lacking most of her clothes and entreating me to lack most of mine. We were rapidly approaching all hands on deck. This was problematical on several fronts, most of them being that I'm married.

We did not in fact part friends; I’m confident she would be as queasy knowing she'd {sort of} had this starring role as I am in reviewing it, though she seemed quite keen at the time. In the dream, I hasten to add.

Why tell you this? Because of Joe Strummer. After Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) (Looking Glass ('s version, not the fine cover above), Get Down Moses came on.

At one point Joe sings about making new friends out of old enemies, which struck me as hilarious, the brain forever playing connect the dots, writing and rewriting stories, and churning the subconscious to amuse and bemuse.

The sky was peachy as I headed home.
Title: Andy (You're in Trouble)
Post by: Clava Scriba on August 28, 2020
There’s a guy who treats his bike so fine
He’s only happy when he makes it shine
He doesn’t know that he’s out of time
His wife will soon be gone

Because the woman doesn’t have that lust
She’s got a saddle with a coat of dust
And so he goes, as go he must
He goes out without her

His friends they say “Andy, you’re in trouble (you’re in trouble)
“Are you just too blind to see (to see)
“That your marriage isn’t big enough for three?”

Andy rides with his chain gang
A group of lads with whom he likes to hang
He loves to race, and the salty tang
Of sweat while she sheds tears

He keeps his stats for every ride
He says he trusts that numbers never lie
Meanwhile his wife can’t look him in the eye
It’s not the Oakley’s fault

His friends they say “Andy, you’re in trouble (you’re in trouble)
“Are you just too blind to see (to see)
“That your marriage isn’t big enough for three?”

They had a fight she clearly laid the blame
On his bike; he said she had no shame
She realised he wouldn’t change
Andy knew it too

Then one night after they went to bed
He got back up, and moved into the shed
She found him there and shook her head
And then she called her mum

His friends they said “Andy, you’re in trouble (you’re in trouble)
“You were just too blind to see (to see)
“That your marriage wasn’t big enough for three.”
Title: The month didn't start well
Post by: Clava Scriba on November 14, 2020
The month didn’t start well.

It's déjà vu all over again (

With my best bike out of action, and my second best long sidelined because of a maddening undiagnosed noise, it was up to the Langster, by far my cheapest bike and also by far the one that’s had the fewest problems over the years. Go figure.

My only issue with the Langster, aside from the entirely objective fact that it’s ugly, is that it’s the least stable on windy days and awful roads. After ruminating over the matter, I decided to haul out the creaky bike, an old Litespeed, and see what could be done that hadn’t been tried before.

On the cusp of the indignity of being scavenged for parts, I’d swear it looked relieved when I retrieved it from the shed: “What’s a little creaking between friends?”

Hold me like you used to

Unfortunately the stem was loose, thanks to some earlier tinkering, and I couldn’t get the expander plug to work properly. What the hell was it doing with one of those anyway? The answer is lost in the mists of time. I decided to take it to the nearest shop and have them put in a star fangled nut.

This they did, at a price high enough that I resolved never to darken their doorstep again, and attacked the noise problem (which the shop wasn't interested in helping me with) by throwing a few spare parts at it. And when I took the bike out the creak was gone!

For two days. There’s nothing quite like the sinking feeling you get when you realise you’re stuck in groundhog day.

I think what’s required here is an attitude adjustment.
Title: Fall
Post by: Clava Scriba on November 16, 2020

was one of those days that required a clean-up crew.


Thanks guys. Cyclist in a good MOOd coming through.


A recently fixed bike will do that. Not even the fact that I had to replace a nice svelte old Campagnolo Record with this


is enough to dampen my spirits. "Just don't look down," my wife tells me, apparently unaware that that doesn't mean it isn't there. Like these holes I had drilled underneath the downtube a long time ago,


tucked well out of sight and now the permanent resting place of a pair of stripped bolts. Or these, for some lovely ( but eventually unwanted shifters.



Should I dwell on my mistakes, or move on? Let's move on.


Hello again Robertsbridge, founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th century and currently well guarded by


silhouettes. I have a peek through the window of the bookstore, which is the closest I get to browsing these days.



What's this across the street? Still not sold?


How can buyers resist this garden? Comes with its own guardian angel,


to keep out the riff-raff who can't scrape together 9x the average income.

The Wrongmove Ride (

I'll let you in on a terrible secret, which I'm posting here so it'll stay a secret: one of the reasons I voted for Brexit ( was because I had the nerve ( to hope it would cause an almighty crash.

Further along I take a rather lacklustre snap of the flooding (see if you can discern the professional photoshop ( job to salvage it),


spot a groovy Y,


and fall off my bike. See, I saved the best for last. Thanks to a U-turn which was a little too much like a V-turn, I tipped myself over into a puddle.


"Protect the head!" my brain didn't have time to shout, the selfish bastard.

(It's OK to laugh @ 33 seconds. Nobody here will judge you.)

The bike was fine.


I wasn't in much distress either, my calf, upper arm, and hand having admirably taken the fall without much complaint. It certainly wasn't enough to ruin an otherwise splendid ride. Thus endeth this report.
Title: Velosaurus
Post by: Clava Scriba on November 19, 2020
This afternoon, after fitting a new tyre

Blatant product placement

and rolling a bit more electrical tape onto the handlebars

We're all in the tape family here

of the only bike that hasn't let me down, I checked the Met Office, Yr, the BBC, and finally the sky on the state of the weather. After a bit of a wait, roughly equivalent to normal faffing anyway, I was able to set off without fear of melting. The theme of the ride was "Thank god I'm not riding a creaky bike today."

Alternate theme: the wonder of gypsum

I wonder if they dig up many fossils,


mostly because I'm reading about fossils. You noticed those toe clips, right? Clearly I'm a dinosaur, myself.

Velosaurus with a curious crest

The mess left over from recent hedge trimming was a good test for the new tyre.

You killed the dinosaurs, CO2, haven't you done enough?

"A trade secret among paleontologists is that many of the fantastical numbers you see in books and museum exhibits – Brontosaurus weighed a hundred tons and was bigger than a plane! – are pretty much just made up. Educated guesses or, in some cases, barely that."
Title: Journeys
Post by: Clava Scriba on November 21, 2020
In honour of the departed Jan Morris, on today's ride I stopped back at the bookshop.

A better gift than nail polish? (

Choose a lane. (

The sound of children playing sends shivers down my spine, what with them being particularly chaotic plague vectors.

Kipling disdaining overfamiliarity with a couple who were not at all surprised an American wanted to take their picture. (Earlier in the ride, Sit Down ( had Shuffled into my ears, immediately followed by the urge to catch someone on that bench. I got lucky.)

Every morning she crosses the road and drops them off, no questions asked.

Annex oast for boozy granny.

Local eyesore.

Another local eyesore. Helmet hair might be a better look.

Miles: 23ish
Climbing: 84,000"
Castles passed: 1
Kiplings passed: 1
Rekindled love ( affairs: 1 (whoa there (
Hair: .44mm longer
Another day older
Title: RD
Post by: Clava Scriba on February 01, 2021
Made another swing by Roger Daltrey’s house today. Here’s the stalker's entrance:


I zoomed in and caught the man himself:

Title: Signs and portents
Post by: Clava Scriba on February 26, 2021
Today's ride could have started better. Down what my wife long ago named Bitch ( (not to be confused with bitchin') Hill, a large herd of deer ( came thundering across the lane, many having trouble clearing the barbed wire fence, the smaller ones doubtless scarred by the encounter. Presently the reason for their fright appeared: a fawn that couldn't make the jump came racing by, a Collie snapping at its heels. With mums ( lately on my mind I felt bad for Bambi, on his own.
A minute or so after I started rolling again a miscalculating squirrel bounced against my front wheel. Fortunately both of us escaped injury and he was in too much of a hurry to remonstrate with me.

Down in the village the high street is now a parking lot thanks to the jab ( centre. It's harder to speed through now, another side effect of the plague.


A little further along a rare police car passed by, reminding me that we're supposed to be exercising in our local area. I've been defining this as within about 6 miles as the crow flies, what do you reckon? I can get a decent ride out of that.

A decent ride

My hair was tamed with a neck gaiter. This makes me feel like Björn Borg, an enduring image of sweat-banded athleticism from my youth.

out your inner Borg

The next village provides warning of critters.


No ball playing in this sign, leading one to fill in the blank as to what they may be up to. Animal husbandry? Lord of the Flies homeschooling? Dodging predators ( (I like Sardonicky, but she's laying it on thick.) Best move swiftly along.
Title: Bringing it all back home
Post by: Clava Scriba on March 09, 2021
Occam’s razor, which is why singlespeeds exist (how else would you interpret the law of parsimony, i.e. "gears should not be multiplied without necessity"?) is named after William of Ockham, who apparently didn't know how to spell his own name. If only he'd left convenient reminders around.


This ride had plenty of grist for the mill: hills galore, the vanquishing of enemies, a chat with a bike repairman, an angry wife, a sign that knowing a few slightly obscure references doesn't qualify me for a job in STEM, and a goat named Billy because it's the law.

You probably want to hear about the vanquishing. As detailed in a previous instalment, ( I am a KOM title holder. Therefore upstarts are always nipping at my heels. And so it was on the hill out of Bodiam. Pretty sure it was these guys:

We meet again (

Having been blown past on the flat, I kept pace from a distance and made my assessment. Feeling bold, I made my move a bit earlier than was wise, but was amply rewarded as the space between us opened without too much effort.

A few miles down the road I let my guard down and they passed me again, going up! The cheek of it. If they weren't exactly enemies before, they were now. You must agree I had little choice but to once again provide dust for a meal. This triggered a coughing fit, fortunately a delayed reaction so as not to sully my ultimate victory. Even Miguel Induráin ( must have hacked up a lung from time to time.

After a period of reflection by the side of the road, I carried on. Eventually there was another hill, this one in a state of vacant possession thank god. If I'd been forced to pick up speed for yet another defence of my title, not only might the neighbourhood have locked their shutters against the sound of plague, I probably wouldn't have met Chris of Lever.


Mercifully that wasn't a ghost ( bike that grabbed my attention, but an advertisement for his repair service. He chose that moment to be coming home; now he has another potential customer. It didn't hurt that he gave a little bow of respect when it was carelessly dropped into conversation that nearby Willingford Lane, with a proper hard gradient even for gearies, is another notch on my uptube (think that'll catch on?).

After taking his flyer and my leave I headed for Kings Hill Road, the scene of many a pleasant gasp for air. On the way I passed a cyclist taking a breather by the Brightling Observatory, an old folly of Mad Jack's and the top of this part of the world. We said hello and I headed down. Eventually he whizzed past, which was A-OK: even grandmothers pass me going downhill.

At the bottom he turned around and started back up. This was a development. I've done it on occasion, but have never seen anyone else so inclined. What the hell, let's go for it. My goal was to draw even and offer something like moral support to a fellow hill lover. I entertained no serious contemplation of actually beating him.

Alas I didn't have the lungs to even catch up, and courted a very rare cramp in the bargain.

Still, he hauled me up from a distance, and I thank him for that. On top of the world again, I was minded to visit Willingford Lane, again downhill but with plenty of gradient on the other side. It was at this juncture that I both met Billy

Giving me the cold shoulder

and checked my phone, to be confronted by an undisclosed number of missed messages and calls. My wife was soon filling my ear with wonderment at my lack of consideration. This was not so much a general observation as a pointed reminder that, although time may fly when you're having fun, the occasional update wouldn't go amiss. Apparently a ride which takes twice as long as expected, without notice, falls under the category of Bad Things.

Feeling somewhat deflated, I went down down down the lane until I finally got off and walked the steepest hundred yards or so, taking no great pleasure in white knuckle descents.

Oh man up already

What goes down must go up

One last hill, then home to meet my fate. The day was to offer one more brief social encounter, a couple out for a walk who wished me well on my ascent: "A shame the inn at the top is closed."

"What goes around?" Easiest pub quiz ( question ever.
Title: Déjà View, to show
Post by: Clava Scriba on March 11, 2021
A puncture not even out of the gate, which is the very best kind, all the comforts of home. Easily sorted. Given the drunkenly tilting valve, which spoke of hard times at its base, I didn't have to search for the cause. And so to the road.

It was a crazy windy day, rain promised by all. Yet the sky told a different story. I headed into the hills accompanied by the usual sound of music, in this case as much for its prophylactic qualities ( as for entertainment. I don't remember what was playing, but poor Shawn Colvin was on my mind. Why poor? See for yourself.

If you've got $200 (£143 at the current exhange rate) you too can purchase "at least" one minute ( of her wonderful voice singing with a personal shout-out. Thus the check ( in the mail from Uncle Joe would buy me

and enough

to get to the first refrain.

Shawn's a good cause, and I hate to poke fun or worse, evoke pity. Live performers have it tough. Not everybody has Bob Dylan money ( to see them through.

I made it to the top of the hill I'm forever climbing, now thinking about Sisyphus, because there's a post brewing about going up up up ( and he may figure in it. We don’t have a lot in common other than having both cheated death a few times, and employment in Sisyphean tasks.

Not much time budgeted for enjoying the view,

I headed back down and presently greeted a vision in luminescent pink. It was Jenni, last seen ( ahorse a little over a month ago on this same stretch and buffeted by the same wind, assuming it's done the rounds. Just two riders on the lane. We chatted long enough for another faux pax – the jury is still out on whether she minded me forgetting who was who.

She’d changed outfits and (also sorry for not noticing!) horses. I too had swapped, to Lucy. ( Hers was now Kate, her daughter's. I'm starting to wonder if she has as many horses as I have bikes, and if we should all meet together everyone would be willing to wear name tags.

I'd been hoping to run into Jenni again to offer my email for her rolodex, to be filed under village cyclist & idiot. ( Were it not for my original delay, we wouldn’t have crossed paths on this day with the scene set just right for a replay, so thanks, puncture fairy.

Title: Solitaire
Post by: Clava Scriba on March 12, 2021
Hands up if like me you’ve never played. (Either hand will do.) Bored security guards in movies are always at it. Far be it for me to get all snobbish and suggest it’s not quite the same as playing chess against yourself – which I also don’t, my preference to sacrifice my king to save my favourite pawn never quite panning out.

Are you sure you want to do that?

Us velosoloists are taking the easy way out. It’s much more difficult to ride with other people, whether racing and holding a line (is that a thing? I don’t know the lingo) or leisurely pub-hopping, than it is to be free to improvise on a whim, no questions asked. YMMV.

This morning I made a determination that there was a comfortable cushion of time between a ride and the forecast rain, and got myself in the saddle again. My goal: the Co-op parking lot in Heathfield. Because it’s there, and as a sad reminder that I haven’t been in a supermarket in ages.

"The endless road unwinds you," Steve Winwood sang ( into my ear. Steve gets it.


There’s the Co-op. Believe it or not I was slightly nervous about cruising by at 3-something in the morning, as there can be nasties about. It also wouldn’t do to interrupt a dogging session. Fortunately I was unmolested and didn’t surprise anybody, velosoloist interruptus.

I don’t ride this way often, because the beautiful road to this market town is horribly marred by traffic in daylight hours. Taking full advantage of the lack of foot traffic, I took to the pavement, window shopping for illustrations. Marilyn obliged.


I also passed my dentist, presumably tucked up in bed dreaming of perfect smiles. He's actually quite good: it's a pleasure not to have to dread your tooth botherer.


Climbing the hill back out of town I remembered meeting a pair of High Weald Drifters ( moseying down it a few years ago. As you'll see from the previous post, it's horsey country. Usually I see rabbits, very occasionally a badger. ( My fellow night owls.

Darkness swallowed me up again. My light is pretty good, but not quite good enough to ever put me completely at ease with going that fast. I decided to don my headlamp, packed for puncture repair. It wasn't the first time for this lightbulb moment, just the first time I'd actually tried it, not liking the idea of a wodge of plastic on my head should I take a tumble. It didn't help much, but there's a stronger one at home...

I passed where a pedestrian ( was killed last year, also under the stars.

ELO'S Sweet is the Night came on.

My fingers and toes were freezing, scuppering my plan to anchor the other end of the ride at the Etchingham station parking lot. Because it’s also there. And mem'ries.

Standing on the platform with my folder, looking forward to good eatin’ ( and ridin’. (

Cows. ( (I don't know if that was a station cow, but it could have been a relative.)


Kenny. The best stationmaster you could hope for,


and gay as the day is long. In fact all three I've known have been gay. It's in their contract.

It looks like next month the highways dept. will be cramping my style. I'm putting this pic here because I can't fit it in anywhere else.


This was taking longer than expected because I kept stopping to liaise with my voice recorder. Ideas swoop down like bats.

Passing through Burwash I badly wanted to put my headlamp on Kipling, but will settle for this:


Getting ready to turn into the drive at home and not a moment sooner, it started raining, which is an ending tailor-made to please.
Title: These are the voyages
Post by: Clava Scriba on May 30, 2021
Lots of metaphorical chess going on in my life at the moment, which I can't talk about because reasons.

Haven't met my quota ( of Trekkie ( references this month

My current mission: to get used to captaining the SS Langster hands free ( I mean, really comfortably. It’s not like I couldn’t do it already, but it’s more flighty than stately. Lots of oportunities to practice. It’s going well.

The following is a composite ride stretching over the course of a day.

We begin with a disappointing shot, alas. And I had planned it almost as carefully as Ansel Adams ( did Moonrise over Hernandez, which we all know was more complicated than the moon landing.

Bins under Burwash: Zone System info not recorded

Nicer weather brings out the night rider ( in me. There's nothing like moon shining on a ribbon of recently repaired road. I love the quiet, except of course for the music often blasting my ears.

Soundtrack to a Blitzkrieg (

Rare view from inside the village car park toilets, dawn peeking in. The point being, the public facilities are gloriously (not to get too carried away or anything) open, doing-your-business hours once again 24/7.


The weather being less Fuck You lately, I've been enjoying my rides more to go with it. Here I am contemplating my immediate fate, it once again being groundhog day:

Feed me Seymour is the first caption that comes to mind, so I'll go with it

Low-flying bird's eye view

Oh dear, I'm going bald.

Sex outside the city

Although I lack photographic evidence, my social life is exploding in a good way. Along a lane close to home I run into Jonathan walking Trig. The two are a familiar sight. From time to time over the years we've turned it up a notch by chatting. Today I desire human connection to thumb my nose at the pandemic, so we have a fine one, Trig busy eating a type of grass I neglected to make a note of to burnish my descriptive prowess.

Melanie & Anthony walk by. Their faces ring a bell. "We're passing you for a change," says Melanie. After wrapping things up with Jonathan I approach them up the lane and announce I'm collecting names for faces. It's a conversational gambit.

We hit it off. The discussion ranges from sociability in a time of plague to cycling socks, as Melanie's son has a booming business. (

My notes say "everything in common and nothing in common", a quote from Anthony. I'll be damned if I can piece that part of the convo together.

Doubtless we'll meet again.

Further along I see a string of what can only be cyclists, a colourful gaggle which turns out to be schoolkids being given cycling proficiency training. They are treated to the sight of a very hairy and unhelmeted man cruising by without hands where they should be, on the bars.

Around the bend, thinking of the children I am struck by the urge to return to the scene of the crime. Well, why not. It's that kind of day.

I approach them and glide to a stop. All attention is on this strange apparition.

My lecture is short: "It's good to see you wearing your helmets," I lie. Pointing to my head, I add that if I fall off my hair will probably protect me(!). Appreciative or bemused, their instructor thanks me for the PSA. I wonder if some will now grow their hair longer to emulate the mysterious Samson.

Mental rewrite starts after rolling away. Judging by the way they were staring at me, perhaps I should've added "that's a joke," or tapped my head to indicate its hardness. I guess the thing about hair popped out because it's currently my main feature.

It would've been a fantastic photo-op, but for the most part I don't do kids anymore. It's too risky, people will think you're a perv. It's such a shame, as they're great subjects. What follows is a small portfolio from the 80s in my hometown, ( where I photographed all and sundry.

Dominic Cummings, Theresa May, Boris Johnson

The kid on the right actually did grow up to be a jailbird, if it makes a better caption

Is jumping rope still a thing, or have Health & Safety intervened in this childhood amusement (

Bear in mind that I was in my teens, so to any adult witness, chances are nothing would have been terribly odd... though even in those more innocent times it was still not your typical teenage pursuit.

Cat's in the cradle

Wheel slowly turning in the breeze

School's out for summer – I know, let's go to school!

On a wooded hillside a mare and foal share a moment, in camera except for the guy holding one.


A few more from the day's soundtrack and we'll wrap this up.

( (

That last one is a link to the best cover of Bob Dylan's Nettie Moore I could find; it didn't do to sully Weeki Wachee Springs ( with one of those little play arrows I usually add when not simply embedding a video. Leo DiSanto does a very fine job, but truly, find a studio version and prepare to be immersed in sublimity.

Down our often muddy track of a driveway, I find myself picking up the Langster to spare it more earthy nature than necessary. Somewhere in time my gentleman doppelgänger lays down a cape over a puddle.