Friday 9 January 2015

Roger, Roger and a touch of bother!

Q: How do penguins get to school?
A: On their ice-cycles!
On 3rd January 2015, I stumbled across the following whilst trawling through my FaceBook pages (edited): ''ACTIVE AND EXPERIENCED BLIND CYCLIST NEEDS YOU! Roger is an experienced cyclist who lives [near Doo]. Despite being totally blind, Roger cycles regularly on a tandem. Roger has a number of sighted steersmen, each of whom goes out with him every so often... A number of Roger's tandem partners are now in their sixties or seventies, and as time passes they inevitably find it harder to continue riding as before. Roger is therefore looking to recruit new partners to ride with him on his much-loved Longstaff tandem. In the past, Roger has ridden the End-to-End and many Audax events, from 200 to 600km, twice securing a Super Randonneur medal from AUK. Roger is good company and he knows his way around the back lanes ... better than most sighted cyclists I know. Piloting a tandem takes a little getting used to, and riding with a stoker who can't easily anticipate what's coming up is a little more challenging than riding with a sighted stoker. So, if you can spare [any time] – I can thoroughly recommend riding with Roger … both as an enjoyable activity, and as a way of giving something to the community and to the sport of cycling, from which we all benefit so much. Roger is hoping to hear from you soon!'' Well, Roger sounded like a top guy, I love a challenge, have wanted to ride a tandem ever since my wife SJ and I cycled one on our honeymoon... So many reasons why I was so pleased to read the advert. I contacted Roger and all being well, we will ride together some time in the near future (February all being well). My friend Gary 'the Cobbler', who lives in Geneva, cycles a tandem with his blind friend too. Oh, such adventure to be had! Can't wait until our first pedal.
Is there a U.K Blind Tandem Cycling Connection?! - There soon might be!
Talking with Roger, reminded me of another Roger that proved to be a major player in an off-road 200k event I once completed with Chris and Ron. We were cycling ' a lengthy cycle along dams with a sheer drop to the one side of us and plenty of switch backs and small bridge crossings. The weather turned sour and started raining big time. We were climbing for a time and splashing through puddles just looking for signs of civilisation. And then we saw lights in the distance. And after a few more pedal strokes, we found a pub!
This was what the pub looked liked the following morning once day light had re-appeared. Such a warm welcoming pub. And did I mention the grub?!
Well, let me tell you - not long after entering this pub we were treated with 3 bowls of chips which we ate whilst warming ourselves on a nice fire. Much of our damp kit was drying on radiators around the pub. After our chips, Roger (the landlord) gave us seasoned potato skins. Mmm. It was only right we had some drinks (Guinness for Ron and Chris and a red wine for myself). We were speaking to the locals for a time a certain chap thought we were 'mad' when we told him of our plans. So concerned was this chap about our welfare that he asked the landlord if we could stay in the pub. Roger was more than obliging and sorted us out a room for the night. We drank a little more and then headed for bed.
I guess this was not the picture most folk had in their heads when I said I was going Bike Packing. Certainly not the usual tent or tarp option. At least Ron got to use his new sleeping mattress. 
After a relatively decent nights sleep we started getting up at about 5.30 a.m. No scrambling through pockets and bags trying to find food. Roger (bless him) had cooked us all some bacon and egg sandwiches followed by further bacon rolls. Lots of tea washed all this down and we felt set up for the day. We had cycled just short of 100k at this point. (Taken from a previous blog post somewhere in history).

I have a good feeling about Roger! And, if the above isn't good enough evidence to go by I don't know what is. This blog attempts to provide an evidence base to all it's arguments.

My first ride of the year took place on the 5th. I cycled my much loved AM SR 1 route (a 40k circuit near to where I live) on my single-speed road bike. I stopped at the half way point to eat one of my Doo Bars. My Doo Bars, just like Marmite which they (mistakenly) contained are either loved or hated. Ron was a recent thumbs up, Aid was a thumbs down. Hmmm.

Tuesday was the day of my interview. I applied for the post of a Criminal Justice Liaison Practitioner. I didn't get offered the job. Oh well, will have to remain a Senior Liaison Nurse and keep away from that dirty old jail.

My second and last ride of the week took place on Wednesday. This ride turned out to be an adventure for sure. As I cycled near Henley, I noticed a handbag on the roadside which just appeared somewhat suspicious. I stopped to investigate. Inside the handbag was a purse (no cash or credit cards), a perfume bag (empty), a photo (of woman with child), a NHS prescription exemption card, various receipts, odd scraps of paper and a prescription for anti-depressants. The prescription (dated yesterday) had a name and address attached so I was able to (presumably) identify the owner. I tapped the address into my Garmin and set off to find the owner. I located the address and gave the door a knock. The owner answered the door and bag and owner were soon reunited! Outside the owners address was her car - complete with smashed passenger window. Scrote's had 'smashed and grabbed' earlier in the day whilst she was on her school run. The owner could not thank me enough for returning her bag and was very, very pleased and somewhat emotional. She remarked her purse was empty before it was taken. Doo felt he did his good deed for the day. Better yet, this adventure completed my PBP training for the week!

A future investment perhaps?!
On Thursday I went for a run. I ran a favourite route of mine (and others) - the Studley Triangle. This is a 5k run which skirts around the edge of my village and forms the shape of - you got it - a triangle! There was a sheep standing on the edge of the main road on this run. Doo did his good deed for the day and ensured said sheep was coerced back into the field where it belonged.
My Studley Triangle Run.
On Friday, I dug out my old skipping rope. Bad idea! I can cry, I can mope but I can't skip with a skipping rope. I lasted like a minute and my performance was comedic.
With all this blogging about running, exercise and a mental health based job, I feel I must tell you the story of 'Brother Malc'. Brother Malc is a chap from my village who attends the same fellowship. He doesn't exercise, his mental health is questionable and he has a strong belief in God. Anyways, on Thursday he handed me a cut-out from a newspaper which he thought I might have found interesting. He was right! Apparently, Bro Malc had this paper for sometime before remembering to give it to me. Let me quote directly from the paper (with a bit of editing): 'jogging for as little as five minutes a day should be so beneficial, dramatically cutting the risk of dying early. [This is well known]. The positive influence of church is ... quite extraordinary, with faith reducing the risk of heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer. For mental health ... those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced'. As debatable as folks beliefs may be 'the beneficial effect in conferring greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life is indisputably for real'. This was published in the Telegraph and was the words of Dr James Le Fanu. 

Next week I plan to rest. Rest from cycling that is! I am hoping that my wife SJ gives birth next week. Oh, how exciting! 

Lunar, my first child! What will the second be like?!

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