~ => Freewheeling => 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 for a club run, 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: Velosolo Club
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 lovely (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! (