Get off your horse and drinks your milk

Cafe stops are what make bike rides. I am guilty of forgoing this treat for fear of being alone and looking stupid with nothing to read.  However, today I had both the cafe in mind and a companion to keep me entertained on the stop.  This morning I met up with an old school friend Adrian for a ride that has been a long time in the making (courtesy of Facebook). On a cold and overcast morning we rode out to Ironbridge and a favourite sopping point of mine, the Tea Emporium. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I need good coffee – and all in the pursuit of good taste, good tea too – and the Tea Emporium does just that: a dark, slightly bitter espresso with just enough crema to make it slip down.  It makes the exit from Ironbridge that bit easier, not that it can ever be described as such.  As any good geography student (or even an astute history pupil) will know, Ironbridge sits in a gorge and though any entry in is downhill, the exit is via a climb.  Today’s ascent was Jiggers Bank, a climb I first encountered after watching the Tour of Britain in 2008. On that occasion I had noticed a double espresso was sufficient fuel to take on this beast and what better excuse today.  Yes, I conquered it but riding with Adrian up that I now know how Tom Boonen must have felt watching Fabian Cancellara ride away on the Muur in this year’s Tour of Flanders. Oi oi oi.

In all seriousness it was great to get out with an old friend. I am now completely shattered and have my entertainment lined up on the coffee table next to me. I think I’ve deserved a second beer this evening before an early night.

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On the street, hoping for a brighter day

(Apologies to Gil Scott Heron for ruining your lyrics for my title)

So, 2 rather pessimistic blogs and I had to find redemption somewhere.  And that somewhere was the roads between here and Ironbridge, riding with a friend and having coffee with an ex-World Champion (and pretty mean Team Pursuiter).  Today I got out on the bike and enjoyed it.  Getting out of bed was still difficult but I made it.  The ride wasn’t particularly fast, but it was some miles.  The best thing was that I had a natter, rode somewhere and felt a bit freer.  Yes, I know many people have said it before and I’ve often forgotten it but the best things in life are the small and simple things.  As Frances E Wilard said: “She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” I think she might be right.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me, left comments on the blog or replied on Facebook.  Each one has been helpful in a different way and made a difference in my mood.

Road to the stars

Well its official, summer is definitely here and the end of May is turning into a scorcher.  Yesterday it was 28 degrees and Mrs AB and I managed to spend much of it in Birmingham on a futile shopping trip.  The day was saved by lunch, coffee and a catch up with friends (Lauren and Leo) at Urban Coffee,drinks on the terrace with our neighbours and some stargazing with Mrs AB’s grandad’s telescope.  (If you’ve never looked at the moon through a telescope before you should – it is truly spectacular!).

So with the temperature threatening much of the same today it was up and out early this morning for a ride.  I’m pleased that I actually got on the bike, even more pleased that I did 28 miles and over the moon that I was back before coffee time.  I don’t hink I could have stood the heat as it is now.  It was a good ride, an undulating circuit around Codsall, Boscobel, Albrighton and Pattingham. I even felt good on the hills.

Passing what seemed like every Wolverhampton based cyclist on their respective ways out for the day reminded me of something else I love about not just cycling but walking too – the friendliness with which we greet one another.  Okay, there are a few miserable so and so’s who never say hello, but the majority do – and even to two chaps I passed on the hill towards Perton were cheery (I think) as the struggled up a nasty little incline.  Plenty of people have talked about the camaraderie of the cycling fraternity.  I know not on what it is based but it always feels nice to exchange a hello and a wave.  So for the couple of miseries I did pass, please take note – its a win-win situation for us all.

However, I do have to report two notable problems today.  The first is to the driver of the blue covertible “Mini” – when a cyclist waves to tell you not to pass it is for a reason not to be obstinate and obstructive.  In this case it was the presence of 3 oncoming vehicles which you could not see around the blind bend, particularly not at the speed with which you were approaching.  And the hand signals you used are not listed in the Highway Code.

The second is to Eurosport.  I was looking forward to a couple of hours watching today’s stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia – perhaps the definitive stage of the race finishing on the beast which is Mont Zoncolan.  Why then are you chosing not only to avoid live coverage replacing it with Formula 2 GP and the first round of the French Open tennis, but also cramming the action into a programme of less than one hour tonight (which no doubt in true Eurosport will be cut even further to show Darts on Ice from Helsinki)?  We are not amused.  Looks like its off to Sporza for a bit of Belgian coverage via the internet and my convoluted road to the stars.  In the meantime, off to check Mrs AB’s handworking painting the new shed.