Mood Inversion

February 15, 2019

I have to admit, I did wonder this morning why I’d agreed to meet someone in Bigtown at 10 am – cutting right into my most productive working hours. Especially when I opened the curtains and realised that despite some giddy talk from the BBC weather presenters about springlike weather, it was actually pretty frosty out (fortunately, not icy enough to make me regret removing the ice tyres although had I had a winter bike …)

misty morning

But it’s hard to beat a temperature inversion for making for a gorgeous ride down the hill and into town. Partly because Bigtown looks better when its veiled in mist (don’t we all), partly because, well, just look at it.

It’s interesting to actually feel the temperature inversion too, not just see its effects. It was distinctly colder by the time I’d reached the river valley, as well as mistier. The frost was gone where the sun had hit it, but only just

And by the time I was riding home, buoyed by the enthusiasm of someone who’s putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to Bigtown cycling, it was really jolly nice indeed. Perhaps not the giddy heights promised by the weather forecast, but definitely a bonus for February, when you take what you can get, weather wise

Some days, work just has to wait…



February 14, 2019

Well, huh. No sooner had I almost half persuaded myself that I was going to be forced to get another bike – something one can usually rely on one’s fellow cyclists to fully back you over – than one of my commenters (who I believe is no stranger to the lure of N+1 himself) points out a reasonably priced hub dynamo which, combined with a triumphant sub-15 minute wheel swap on Monday morning, has somewhat destroyed my case for a spot of winter bike shopping. Now, this would normally appeal to my frugal nature because even bike shopping is not something to be rushed into, but I had been feeling the need for cheering up.

For, not only does my shoulder continue to give me grief, but I have now become so self-conscious about my poor posture that I no longer know what I should be doing with my head so as not to damage my neck – I have reached the stage where I would honestly welcome the ability to take the damn thing off and carry it under my arm. I even agreed to acupuncture at the physio which left me in the position of both hoping it worked because that way I might not need to resort to beheading myself to get a decent night’s sleep, and hoping it didn’t because rearranging my entire world view to one where moving around the chi energy actually proved effective would be almost as painful. In the end, karma had the last laugh because I woke up yesterday with a painful crick in my neck suggesting that a) the acupuncture actually did something, albeit that something was make it worse, and b) the yoga teachers are possibly right when they say that sore necks are a symptom of being unable to see both sides of the issue. So yeah, thank you universe (and I’ve now at least got an appointment with the GP to see if western medicine can at least manage not to make the whole thing worse).

Just to put the tin lid on it, yesterday morning, I was then forwarded an email about my bike outings with the Buddies, because apparently ‘concerns have been raised’ (ah the masterful use of the passive voice) that they have been seen going out cycling alongside someone who wasn’t wearing a magic plastic hat. The emailer had already been sent off with a nicely callibrated flea in their ear (I wouldn’t be working with these guys if they weren’t able to handle busybodies with one hand behind their backs or, indeed, their heads under their arms), but even so, it did nothing to lighten my mood. Normally, the answer to that would be going out on the bike, but the shoulder is starting to impinge on that too, and – short of getting myself a proper Dutch bike – does even worse things to my head and neck* than sitting slouched on the sofa with the laptop, so even a ride into town and back didn’t do it for my mood.

So I did the next best thing and asked Twitter to cheer me up, which it duly did with a slew of Dad jokes and other cheering responses and this afternoon capped it off with this:

If I were in the market for a winter bike, I think I may have found it.

* If I could take my head off and ride with it under my arm, do you think the helmet police would still moan about what I was wearing on it?

Get Thee Behind Me …

February 10, 2019

Me a couple of days ago: I’ve got around 20 minutes on this fine, almost springlike day, before I need to set off into town. How can I be most productive?

*prepares batch of sourdough, sends an important email, orders a repeat prescription, leaves house with five minutes in hand, feeling almost like an organised person.*

Brain: don’t forget you need to swap the ice tyres back off your bike.

For yes, it has reached the time of the year when the ice tyres’ role is to be in the wrong place – either off the bike when it is icy, or on the bike when it is not. The latter wouldn’t matter that much – I quite like the rice crispy noise they make on the tarmac and it helps alert pedestrians to my presence behind them far more effectively than the bell-or-no-bell calculation – except that my hub dynamo is on my non-winterised front wheel so at this time of the year it’s a choice between grip or lights (this winter, I’ve been running my dynamo lights day and night because even during the day the sun is so low it’s bound to be in someone’s eyes).

snow-covered bike

What do you look for in a winter bike?

I could get a set of battery lights, but space on my handlebars is at a premium and charging them is a pain, especially when they’re only occasionally used. I could get a second dynamo for my winter wheels, but a nice hub dynamo costs How Much!? and – such are the quirks of the human brain – it seems somehow less wasteful to get a whole new winter bike with a dynamo to use on the icy days than it does to get just a new front wheel with a dynamo that will barely be used.

Obviously, any cyclist reading this will be muttering ‘N+1’ and urging me to go for the new bike, but I do feel any additional bike would have to earn its keep, beyond just spiky wheels, and fill a niche my current steeds aren’t currently filling. But I have to admit, I’m a tiny bit tempted by the thought of a new-to-me bike. Given I already have a comfy touring bike and a Brompton, and any new bike would still have to get me up our hill (so no heavy mountain bike), if you were in my shoes, what would you go for?

Unfast Fashion

February 5, 2019

After knitting enough socks to get a little bored of the process, and then an unexpectedly successful tea-cosy for my mother, I have decided to risk knitting something a little more ambitious (and by ambitious, I mean ‘something any actual knitter can do with their eyes shut): a jumper.

tea cosy

Not a jumper, unless you’re a teapot

I have actually managed to knit myself a whole cardigan in the past (it even came out quite successfully, although sadly the moths got more use out of it than I did in the end), and then abandoned an attempt to do a jumper, but I thought I’d have another go having fallen in love with a pattern I saw on the Internet (I realise, looking at it now, that half the attraction may be that it’s a grey jumper in the picture, but never mind).

wool coneOne of the problems with knitting something like a jumper is that you end up spending a substantial part of your life turning about £60 worth of wool into about £40 worth of jumper, at least if you buy the wool new. Fortunately my cousin, who is a master of the car boot sale, found me a 50p bargain cone of 2-ply Shetland wool that’s been sitting in my knitting wool stash for *checks notes* five years waiting for me to work out what to do with it (never let it be said that I rush into things when it comes to knitting).

After a certain amount of calculation (and having actually knitted a proper test swatch rather than just assuming it will be fine like I normally do) I worked out that if I wound it into balls and knitted with two at a time, I should have enough 4ply wool for the pattern. This does mean acquiring a jumper that isn’t grey, which will be a bit of a shock to the system, but at least, given how slowly I knit, I’ve probably got a couple of years to get used to the idea …