Tag Archives: bicycle

A very silly thing

Looking for a suitable quote for this little tale, I remembered that Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I checked the accuracy of this.   He is credited with the smart words (though they are sometimes attributed to Confucious) but I’ve a problem with it.   Because I can be pedantic I googled “What unit was used to measure distance in China in 500 BC”.  Guess what? they didn’t do miles.  The accepted measurement was (and still is) the Li, which is roughly about 1/3 of an imperial mile, so it’s only a 333 mile journey in reality. Modern day Li’s are 500 metres.

Do you remember this?   I decided that I not only needed to keep both legs but I needed them both attached to the same body, a couple of visits to the doctor and before you can say “Hop it” I was on a bed being flushed with iodine and then having a brace of stents fitted (kissing stents, so they tell me.  How sweet).   Blood circulation at my ankle went from 5% to 60% so I’m only 40% off perfect now.   Don’t you wish you were so close to perfect?

The doctors told me that gentle exercise would help improve things further, so I walked and walked and then decided in January to join in with a group doing couch to 5k.   This encourages one to run for 5km (3.1 miles for you over there) eventually.   I should at this stage offer a large round of applause to the Sweatshop chain of sports clothing stores and in particular to the shop in Teddington for organising regular running groups and giving encouragement to all potential runners everywhere.

I can now run 5km (3.1 miles or very roughly 10 Li).  I can’t do it quickly but this is all (apparently) going to change.   I place the blame for this very firmly at the door of my friend (who I shall call Fred because he reads this, don’t you Fred?).

Fred said “I can’t run, I’ve no ACL in my leg, I cycle instead.  Come and join me on a cycle ride”.

Fred does this.   He mentioned that he had started playing golf and we should go for a game.   He’s really good at golf.    Fred is cycling many miles a week and I have now committed to a 50 mile charity cycle with him.  Bradley Wiggins has raised an eyebrow of concern.

That’s not the very silly thing though.  Because I’m going to do a cycle ride I needed a bicycle and because I now have a bicycle I feel the urge to use it more so I have entered a duathlon.  This involves running, cycling and running again.   I’m only doing a little one, 5km-22km-5km but a brief test of pedaling followed by running reveals that it is going to be hard work.  The shared muscles are somewhere around the groin.  It’s far more painful than giving birth (apparently).

My current time for 5km is 30 minutes.  That’s just for 1, so I reckon the second one will be more like 40 minutes.   On the bicycle I reckon I can just about manage an average of 20 kmh so we are looking at around 2 hours and 15 to complete the course.  The winning time last year was 1 hour 20 minutes and the slowest was around 2:45.  I’m aiming for under 2 hours and I have 15 weeks to get to that speed.

Wish me luck.   I’ll see you all in Richmond Park on 18th September.  I’m expecting banners with “Come on Robby” and “Hurry up you fool” scattered around the course.

Bye for now.

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If I knew you were coming…

I love cakes.   I think cakes are the best.   The things I would do for a fresh cream horn don’t bear mentioning.  If there was a danish pastry 100 metres away and I was standing next to Usain Bolt then I’d get there before him (and probably be licking the crumbs from my fingers before he arrived).  Did I say that I like cakes?

I was having a discussion about cakes recently, one of those abstract conversations that tend to happen when you’ve been driving too long without human contact and so you pounce on the first caller.   After meandering through the jam donuts and the gaily coloured Battenburg we finally alighted on the ultimate piece of food, the fruit cake.

Not any fruit cake but the booze riddled, iced, marzipanned behemoth that masquerades as a wedding/Christmas cake.

There is a tradition in the UK (this may be true everywhere) that the top layer of the wedding cake is kept back and not cut until the christening of the firstborn child.    I thought here that I would provide a handy little statistic saying that the average time a cake lays waiting is x years, but the internet has failed me.   In fact, the average age for a woman to give birth to her first child is 29 and the average age of a woman getting married is 32.5, so the cake would be -2.5 years old.   I think it might have to be called an uncake.

Never mind.  It is still tradition and we can pretend that the top layer of cake is going to be in a tin under the bed for at least 12 months (even if you are the most rapid christener in christendom).     This got us thinking.   Whilst your cake is waiting to be consumed could there be other uses for it?

My first thought was that the cake could be used to fashion an emergency exit in case of fire.   My type of  fruit cake has a density similar to that of a small sun.    Kept on a window ledge it would be a simple thing to cast the cake through the window (or wall for that matter) and hey presto you have a cake shaped hole ready for egress.

If you were thinking that you may be having twins as your first born then you may well plan ahead and have two top layers of the cake.   With a bit of lateral thinking, these would make fantastic book ends that are also a lasting memento of your big day.  You could have the little plastic bride at one end and the little plastic groom at the other.   Once the twins are born your married life will have gone to pot anyway so you will be glad to get rid of the bloody things at the christening.

Bits of fruit cake could easily be fashioned into brake blocks for a bicycle.    This would actually have two benefits.  Aside from the undoubted additional stopping power achieved, every time you slowed down there would be a lovely smell of re-cooking cake to assuage your hunger.   Carrying spare cakebrake blocks (as I think they should be called) would mean you also had an emergency supply of high energy food should you get stuck up a mountain with no patisserie nearby.

My recipe for Christmas cake involves starting cooking just after we come back from the summer holidays.   The recipe seems to have been written on parchment with a quill by what I fondly imagine to be an old and slightly befuddled cook from around the time of Robin Hood.     The best part of it is that I have to feed the cake with Brandy every week.   We all know that drinking alone leads to all sorts of problems so it is essential for the health of the cake that I join it with a glass.

Just as an aside.  The only English monarch ever to be given the epithet of “The Great” is also the only English monarch who is associated with cakes.   That can’t be coincidence (although there is an argument that after burning the cakes he should have been Alfred The Grate).

There are some good superstitions that go with cake.   My personal favourite is that of the burial cake.   Again this should be a mighty monster of a cake and it is kept near to the head of the dearly departed.  Those who come to pay their last respects should keep a piece of cake in their mouth whilst viewing the deceased.   I would like to state now that any cake found near my body is mine and should be buried with me.

The daily prompt today asks what is our guilty pleasure.   Need I say more?

 

 

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