#56

I didn’t miss the rain. It was light but bearable. After taking the dog for a forrest frolic early doors, I took the boys in to school. It had started to rain lightly. By the time I dropped them off, it was heavier. I made the decision to drive to the cricket club and do a short route from there, hoping that the rain would stop in the interim.

It didn’t but it was lighter. It was the kind of constant light rain that is barely noticeable when it is hitting from behind. But it was in my face the whole way. Which is OK when I am on my way home but when it’s on the way to work, horrible.

After only 8km, I arrived wetter than a whales wallet. I squelched my way to the shower only to find that I had forgotten my socks. So I squeezed out the dirty moisture from my cycling socks and put them back on and then squelched back to my office. As the day wore on, my office smelt like the sweaty humid mess of an after match rugby changing room as I endeavoured to dry out my kit on the radiator. Thankfully I am by myself this week so no one else had to put up with it.

After finishing late after a poorly organised but successful mock OSCE, I was spent and was happy that I only had a short ride back to the van. I was also happy that the slowly setting sun occasionally kept me company, peeping through the gaps in the low cloud.

But truthfully, I wasn’t actually happy, just content in a thank God that day is over! kind of way. I had been grumpy, angry even, all day. Nothing went my way from when I was woken by a bent broken finger 45 minutes before my alarm. Its been a long day full of frustration, disappointment and anxiety. All the way back I was cursing at cars and inattentive peds too engrossed in their mobile devices to give a s#¡T about anyone else. I cut my ride short even though my legs wanted more.

But at least now, my glass is half full.

Of Sauvignon Blanc…

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#54 & #55

My tech has dislocated her shoulder and is away from work for a week. So I rode in to work after dropping the boys off at school to get the pig belly out of the freezer to thaw and prep the following day for surgical skills teaching. I was horribly hungover from medicating by disappointment over our “loss” at Lords the previous evening. The match was tied, the super over tie breaker was tied but England won on a count back of number of boundaries hit. It was bitter medicine but what a match of cricket and befitting of a world cup final!

Meat thawed, I rode home along the river trying to process my emotions stopping for a snack along the way. Dog walked, I jumped back on the bike and rode back to the van to collect the boys. A Strava app shutdown robbed me of a couple of km.

I drove to work he following day and felt dirty. Despite tired legs again this morning headed in early to prepare fake cysts (toothpaste in finger ends of gloves) in the thawed meat and help with some training in the children’s ED. Again, I was robbed but this time of 6km. I only noticed when I stopped for a breather at a farm gate. 0.1km in 19minutes is not a great speed so I started the recording again. Ordinarily I would add further distance onto my route but I was time pressured. Such was my acceptance of Sunday’s result, I was more cheesed off at being robbed of ~ 8km.

I left work at 2.30 to make my fracture clinic appointment. I chose the river trail which was warm, humid and bumpy. It was also peaceful with only a couple walkers not hearing my bell as I approached from behind. I was expecting to be told off for being a silly boy for riding my bike with a broken finger. The surgeon congratulated me for choosing early rehab-it needs to bend more. It doesn’t need surgery but needs hand therapy. This isn’t as erotic as it sounds.

I have to make regular appointments with an occupational therapist and do bending exercises if I am to get full range of movement back. If I am good, apparently it will take 3-4 months. Which will mean that I can hold a bat in time for pre season training but my playing days are over for 2019.

Apart from backyard test cricket. The benefit of having live cricket on the TV again is that the boys have become more engaged and want to play more on the worn out lawn. I jumped back on the 29er and ambled along some off road routes home, avoiding rush hour chaos. Again it was peaceful but this time devoid of other trail users.

Tomorrow, rain is forecast in the morning but I’m hoping to miss it…

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#53

Thursday was 4 days riding in a row. Oddly, after a break from regular riding, the legs didn’t moan at me at all. They were glad to be out again even if my head didn’t necessarily want it at first. Even the breeze that was in my face was friendly as it kept things cool ride in to work. As I was riding the byeways and bridleways, I stopped for brekkie and enjoyed the peace and warm morning sunshine.

Work was uneventful until I heard that a colleague had dislocated her shoulder on her day off. I went up to the ED to scold her for wasting an annual leave day by spending it at work. I was later than planned leaving and on impulse decided to take the same route back that I did on the fateful day of my own injury.

I gingerly dawdled through the puddles where I came a cropper nearly a month ago but patted myself on the back for getting through that particular mind f*©K. Another reminder of riding in the warm weather was the bugs finding my eyes on a regular occurrence. I’d forgotten this consequence of riding along trail walled with hedgerows. The stinging sweat dribbled into my eyes as I rumbled over flint trails on a humid evening, glad to be out despite the insects and my excessive pores. That’s the reason I don’t go with eyewear-they just cloud up due to the sweat.

Yesterday was a rest day but I was restless. I had 2 days to kill before the world cup final and didn’t really know what to do with myself. Getting wound out by the British media building the English up didn’t help. I’ve seen it before every 4 years in football, only for them to lose a critical match to extinguish the nation’s hopes. In contrast, we (NZ) are flying under the radar and I’m happy about that-we never do well as favourites…

Today I did Dad chores, cleaned the floors, did the washing and fixed the roof rails onto the camper in preparation for the camping trip in Normandy next month. I had to keep busy and pay it forward for sitting in front of the TV watching the final. I rode up to the local nursery to buy some plants for the hanging baskets. Only a month late but I was obeying orders and had to stay busy (I can’t stand the anticipation of this match tomorrow, I really can’t).

Tomorrow is a rest day. After then, it will be business as usual…

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#51 & #52

Exactly 3 weeks on from the day that I fell off the bike and lacerated my knee, I ended 21 days of boredom with a ride to work. Not exactly boredom as I had the Cricket World Cup to watch but driving to work made me feel dirty and £9 per day out of pocket. And I find driving to work 4 days running to be very boring. I did do a few errands up to the shop but nothing too strenuous- I needed beer to help me through the end of the group stages as New Zealand did their best not to qualify for the semi finals. Even so my monthly distance suffered frustrating my goal to ride on a average once a day and break 100 commutes for the year.

Flatlining

I know that they say that getting back in the saddle is the best thing to do as early as possible after a fall but I couldn’t do that for fear of putting pressure on the stitches on what is a key joint when it comes to cycling. When it was time to remove the stitches, 2 of them had come away probably because I did play cricket in the meantime. Which wasn’t all that wise but didn’t want to miss anymore of playing than I have already. I had changed clubs and was keen to impress which I did only to break my little finger last week trying to stop a ball. Now I have to stay away from cricket balls for the rest of the season (I am too old to learn but never too old to play).

Spot the broken finger

So back to cycling. When I did get back on, I was tentative and nervous. The objective part of my brain was telling me not to worry- it was only the second big off in my 51 years. The subjective part was telling me to be scared and stay safe. So I forced myself to take a few easy off road rides to get my confidence back. Yesterday, Tuesday I drove to the supermarket and unloaded the 29er for a mostly off road route to work. Not exactly exhilarating or fast but it was back to a familiar routine. I avoided the trails where the overgrown nettles had cut up my legs the day before. It was good to be out and my finger was only a little bit tender from the solid bumpy trails. I took the quick route back listening to the semi final as I rolled along the river. I don’t ride much at all with ear plugs in as my hearing isn’t so good so only had one in on the left side (the metal boxes pass me on the right in the UK). Only weeks before I had been moaning about how it needed to warm up some more to be summer and was fed up with the air being so cold. The sting of sweat in my eyes and the overgrowth of wild grass and nettles is a welcome feeling that finally summer riding is here.

From Monday. Trail brekkie, another bonus of summer riding

This morning I set off later than usual on the crosser as I could get to work faster on, instead of off the roads. I lacked any rhythm or speed and dawdled in although I bypassed several cars backed up at some temporary lights causing a massive rush hour bottle neck. I stopped counting at 50 and took a side road ending up on the other side of the lights counting 87 stationary cars waiting in the opposite direction. I expected impatient drivers wanting to pass me at every opportunity after their inconvenient hold up. They didn’t disappoint but I didn’t see a single vehicle that I passed earlier. Yep, riding is way better than driving.

I spent the day at work listening to New Zealand’s fortunes via the radio commentary from Old Trafford. I knew that we had posted a low score and that not many gave us a chance against the worlds best, India. But I also felt that the wicket was bowler friendly and we would beat them IF we bowled well and so it turned out. We won a thriller by 18 runs and are in Sunday’s final. I spent the rest of my day at work trying to source resale tickets on the ICC website. Seems that the Indian fans aren’t over their shock or they’re awaiting the outcome of tomorrow’s semi final between England and Australia. If England win, there will be less for re-sale as I think that they’ll turn up en masse to support England as their 2nd preferred team because most of them live here anyway.

I had a tail breeze on the way home and took the shortest possible route home to be back in time for the highlights on the tele. There were lots of other Kiwis on the same road back with the same idea. The one driving the black Audi was the most desperate. But only to kill their passengers/me/on-comers (maybe all of the above). Unlike him/her I made reasonable time without trying.

I think that I’ll go off road tomorrow…

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#50

It rained all day yesterday so for the second Monday running did not ride. Instead I made use of an early Father’s Day present and watched lots of cricket highlights on one of Rupert Murdoch’s well known revenue streams and was taken out for a wet deer hunt in the woods with the dog. We didn’t find any wildlife. They were too busy keeping dry.

I am now half way to 100 commutes for the year with less than half the year up. I had to park up at the “park and ride” this morning as had 1 to collect from school at the bell while the other was at his cricket match. I was happy with the shorter ride on the byways and bridlepaths. Much more interesting and it stopped the argument in my head about whether I was too tired to even bother fighting for space with cars. After yesterday’s rain, there were puddles. Lots of puddles, lots of mud and lots of fun. It was like winter again except milder and the ground more like plasticine than mush. The wet nettles and long grass cut and whipped my legs as I drifted in and out, up and down the trails. I arrived at work muddy, sweaty, happy.

After last week, work was quiet by comparison. I sat at my desk catching up on admin and checking the forecast for my match tomorrow. Until I got an e-mail that it had been cancelled due to rain. I struggled with my conscience not to tell work which took about a minute and decided to take the day off anyway. Sitting in front of the box watching World Cup cricket, a bike ride and a dog walk will be a better option for my overall health anyway.

So I headed back to school and made a last minute decision to do this morning’s route in reverse. At about 2km I turned the corner following a country road, rode through some water drainage (complete with loose grit), slid, lost balance, skidded as I tried to right myself and, unable to unclip fell suddenly onto my left side.

My knee and elbow took the impact of the fall and on closer inspection, discovered that there was a deep cut in my knee after I washed it out. Bugger! I phoned Mrs B2W to sort out the logistics of getting the boys home while I cycled back to work to get patched up. A clean, 4 x 3/0 Prolene sutures later and some take home dressings I prepared to ride back to the van, much to the concern of my colleagues. After much flapping, argument and counter argument I decided that I would not win this particular battle and waited for my lift home.

Looks worse than it is. Lots of non Strava kudos from ED staff for riding back with a knee lac to get it closed

It turns out that a front of knee laceration is a good injury to get (if there is such a thing) if you don’t like the sting of local anaesthetic (me). I was even complimented on the tough skin of my knee making the passage of the needle very difficult. I didn’t feel a thing.

Now that I am soaking in the bath (Nurse Practitioner orders) my knee is telling me that it has had quite a whack. If ever there was a timely injury, this is it. Cricket is cancelled tomorrow and I am under strict orders to rest. I hate being dependent to the point of grumpy but I’ll take it if I am to be entertained buy the Aussies getting a thumping at the hands of the wonderfully unpredictable Pakistanis.

And before anyone asks, the bike is OK-it had a soft landing by falling on top of me!

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#48 & #49m

Last week was a microcosm of my riding life over the summer. I had to be very creative to get over 100km done. The van was still in the garage with no hope of being ready before Wednesday. As I was car-less on Monday, I took Mrs B2W to work in hers, picked the boys up for school and ran some errands before walking the pooch around the forest. I had enough time to tear around on a 21km loop to run an otherwise 7km errand.

The ride to work on Tuesday morning felt like I was riding brought treacle even though the wind had died down and it was on the milder side of cool. They were undoubtedly telling me off for going faster on the 29er the previous day. The ride back was 100% in the wet and 100% enjoyable as I sweated up a nice core temperature in my water proofs. Another 45km in the bank.

Wednesday, a regular ride to work day was forsaken by attending the Cricket World Cup at the Oval. Instead, I rode a shortcut to the Scottish restaurant for coffee (we had run out of beans) and later rode to the supermarket to buy supplies (snacks) for the match. Another 20km done.

The Cricket World Cup-always a carnival atmosphere

We were thoroughly entertained by the raucous Bangladeshi support in our stand as New Zealand did their best to gift the match to them after being the better side for most of the game. A friend texted me a screen shot of me on the TV looking unimpressed as we lost another wicket to another dumb shot.

The following day was a quick school drop off and park at the supermarket to ride the off road trails in to work. It was a busy day facilitating a course, in particular having to manage the ego of a frustrated, demanding course director. When I say facilitating, I use the word loosely as I am not on the faculty list as I am not registered with the GMC. I just do the stuff that makes it happen while others get the credit. One of my colleagues who normally shields me from him had to flee to a family emergency so I was dead on my feet when I finished at 8.

The ride back in the warm dying day was just the tonic to clear my head. I took a longer route back. I was spent and had another course day tomorrow but what the hell I thought. The birds were still singing and the muntjacs were still hopping. Or running. Or whatever the hell they do. Riding in the still country air was where I wanted to be. With the added bonus of 125km for another week under my belt.

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#46 & #47

I haven’t had a whinge for a while about the bastard headwinds that greeted me yesterday morning. I haven’t cycled in headwinds for a while so at least it broke up the cool morning monotony. I just put my head down and rode a different route to take my mind off it but it was slow going. Needless to say, I didn’t repeat my heady speed from the previous day but I am not whingeing-it beat the cool mornings of the last couple of weeks.

I ducked out of work earlier than usual as I wanted to get some cricket training in at the club up the road. I am playing elsewhere this season owing to internal politics and in protest at the disgraceful, disrespectful behaviour of some senior players. After a long couple of seasons of this, I have come to the conclusion that life is too short to play the sport that I love with people like that. I flew home with not quite a wind but a breeze behind me. I took the short route in order to get home quickly. Everything felt fast. I had good rhythm, unusual on the homeward journey for a second day in a row of commuting. I wasn’t asking why, just enjoyed the riding in the warmth with, but not only, a short sleeve top. Finally!

This morning, things had warmed up from the previous couple of months. The sun peeking out from behind the cloud greeted me for the start of #47. For the 3rd day in a row, I took the crosser. There was a slim chance that the van may be fixed by the close of play today so would need to get to the garage quick before they close to collect it.

No chance. The distributors hadn’t even despatched the parts to the suppliers to get it to the garage so the earliest that they can do it is Monday. I would worry about how to get the boys to school, the dentist and their cricket matches on Monday, after my ride home…

So I headed out into 24 marvellous °C with an equally marvellous repeat tail-breeze. After negotiating the usual Friday ignorant driver nonsense around Harlow I decided to take the cycle paths out of town. They’re not frequented by a lot of riders and they are a hassle free way to get out unscathed. On a Friday they also seem to be the place of choice for smoking weed. I cruised through the purple haze, laughing at my younger self for naively thinking back in the day that no one could smell it.

I stopped at the local cricket club to enquire about playing. They are friendly and receptive. The guy that I chatted with is even a keen cyclist. I am going back again tomorrow to meet a few more but it doesn’t look like I’ll get a game as the teams have been selected for the weekend. After leaving, I detoured to the shop, got some beer and stopped again at my habitual Friday stop for some solitude.

Friday evening Lager recovery drink protocol

Tonight, for now, all is fine in the world…

A peaceful view

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