Timeout

I guess there was always going to be timeout at some point once the original target had been knocked on the head, and I’m in it. Holiday and work have conspired together to rob the challenge of all but 17 miles so far this week, and I look forward longingly to returning to some sort of new normality by this time next week.

The back end of last week and the first part of this week made up a truncated family summer holiday to Barcelona. Five days: that was it. Summer hols 2016 done and dusted in the blink of an eye. That has a lot to do with the fact that since I got my redundancy jotters back in March, every day that I’m not working is a day that I don’t get paid. I have work, good work, but I need to keep at it to keep the money rolling in. That, realistically, is the name of the game. Working for yourself is about being responsible, putting in the hours and paying the bills. The modern day LCFN, stretching out way into the future, is about using the miles as relaxation to refuel the brain and the creative thought processes.

Barca is a great cycling city. Glasgow is not. But as a self confessed responsible cyclist, I’m gonna stick my neck out and say that there are more irresponsible cyclists in Barcelona than there are total cyclists in Glasgow. Theory and quite possibly fact. The problem, and it’s a big one, is cycling at speed on pavements. I know back home that cycling on pavements gets our profession a bad name: well that’s nothing compared to the scale of the problem over there. It’s rude, it’s dangerous and it needs to stop. It’s not even that they don’t have a good cycle network: they do. It’s down to attitudes and education. Simple. Maybe Brussels can hand down a Eurowide edict before we clear off: thou shalt not cycle on the pavement, anywhere in the European Union: and if you do, we’ll add your wheels to the burgeoning bike mountain.

Back home, I’ve become addicted to my onboard camera in much the same way as big kids and little kids appear to have gone overboard with Pokemon Go. But instead of collecting wee creatures, I collect footage of dangerous driving. The three or four clips that I’ve published online on the LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma channel on YouTube are case studies of head on collisions waiting to happen. I’ll state categorically that my justification in keeping the camera rolling when I’m out and about is 100% my insurance in case I get wiped out by a manic motor: believe me, there are many, and in my opinion, the standard of driving is getting worse.

I focus on dangerous overtaking, because if I’m going to get taken out, it’ll be because some ejit has taken a risk too many. On my channel, there are examples of overtaking on the inside of blind bends (you basically cannae see what’s coming round the corner because of the  six foot hedge). I know your doing at least forty because you didnae realise that I’m already doing twenty. I demonstrated that to a polis the other night because my speed is logged on Strava (more of that later). Some people will risk everything to be where they want to be five seconds earlier than they might otherwise be, but safely.

But the coup de gras, the gold medal, the Victpr Ludorum of idiotic driving occurred on Wednesday, and I captured it on film. It’s on the LCFN You Tube channel. The hint is in the title: Blind Summit (Double White Lines). The road in question is dead straight over a distance of a mile or so. But it undulates towards a summit before dropping back down on the other side. At the three quarter mile mark on that straight, wanna be racetrack is a blind summit. Because it’s blind both sides, it’s protected by double white lines for a distance of a hundred yards either side of the summit. I was halfway along the upside, rattling along at 16mph (according to Strava) when a car came over the brow of the hill towards me: no bother, no danger. But as soon as it was past, a car passed me, say forty yards from the blind spot, doing about 50. This motor was wholly on the other side of the road, a good foot beyond the double white lines. I was incredulous. This car is about two seconds from the summit and wholly on the wrong side of the road: driving of such stupidity that I’d rate it a ten on the loony scale. On second thoughts, take the full twelve points and just get off the road. Save a life.

But that dude was only the warm up act. Ten yards behind him was another punter who’d clearly decided that his time was up. He went past me, again with a clear foot of tarmac between his nearside wheels and the double white lines, right on the summit. There was zero chance that this guy knew that the road was clear. He took the ultimate chance, even moreso that the first guy, and got away with it. Both of these guys come from a breed of driver that takes extreme, dangerous risks, and is prepared to take that chance to save a few seconds. Based on the footage that I’ve posted to the LCFN channel these last few weeks, I’m convinced that one of these days, I’ll witness a frightening head-on collision.

But there’s a corollary to this story: while we were in Barcelona, a cyclist was deliberately taken out by a motorist who did a U turn to execute the collision, just a mile from that very same spot. And I knew from reading the paper after my tea on Wednesday that the police were looking for a red Seat in connection with that hit and run incident. But it was the bit at the bottom of the newspaper report that switched on my light. The last line said that the police had no CCTV footage of the incident: well of course they don’t: this is out in the country.

But I do…

My mind immediately flashed back to that car that came over the brow of the hill just before the danger men flashed by. I thought “Hang on a minute”…

I fired up the computer, went back into that 30 second clip, and ran it through frame by frame. That car coming the other way, heading for the junction a mile away where the hit and run occurred, was a red Seat.

The police have seen the video, and the still frames, and they have the registration numbers of all three vehicles. Two will be getting a knock on the door because they risked life and limb. The other guy will be getting a visit in order to eliminate him from an enquiry. Or not as the case may be.

On the miles front, the million mile challenge is through 4,000 miles and we’re up to sixteen riders. I would ask everyone reading this to say to anyone you know who rides a bike: get on Strava and join LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma.

Talking of the miles, one thing I really, really miss from the 25K challenge are the fabulous sunrises. One of my mates was up at the crack o’dawn midweek and took the dog out. Straight on Facebook, he was, reporting on the fabulousity of the dawn. I remember those days. I loved those days. I used to love the thrill of getting into work and choosing which sunrise pics I was going to upload. Those were my mornings. Of course there’s nothing to stop me doing it just now, except that I choose not to: I take the extra two hours in bed instead. Semi retired, that’s me: one twenty mile trip a day instead of two. It’s an age thing as much as anything else.

Before I finish, it’s worth documenting how much UK PLC has changed in the few weeks since the 25K challenge finished. There has been the significant matter of the Brexit vote and the changing of the guard at the top table of UK politics. Never before in the history of domestic politics has so much damage been caused by so few (cue Churchill). And to top it all off, they go and give the important job of Foreign Secretary to the bumbling buffoon who fancied losing the Brexit vote, albeit narrowly, so he could turn round and witter away his frustrations. But his side went and won so he did walking away instead, only to be brought back to do a job he’s wholly unsuited for. It’s as bad an appointment as giving the live Tour De France gig to Jeremy Clarkston. Incomprehensible.

So little cycling I’m afraid and that’s it for another action packed week: it’s just that the action had very little to do with actually being on a bike.

But don’t worry, it’s just a timeout.

Author: Von Schiehallion

I'm an old endurance athlete who's pulled a few tricks in his time. I ran my first marathon at 19 round a grass athletics track, ran/hobbled 100 miles in a day at 30, cycled from Manchester to Glasgow in a day at 40, kickstarted the Highland March at 50 and now, at 60, I'm doing LifeCycle. Life's too short to sit still for long. I like doing stuff that just seems impossible...

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