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Friday, September 14

The Cycle Of Life

The last couple of days have been quite bike oriented.

Last night I went to watch a gig in London. I took the bike from home to the station and from the station at the other end to the gig. I sort of knew the way, but I sort of regret dropping my map (accidentally) at a junction while trying to cram it back in my pocket after a hasty check of it. As a result of my loss, I ended up having to guess the route a little. I followed some signs, but it didn't really work out for me.

I was headed for Holborn, but when I reached the theatre district, I knew I'd gone a little off course. I also knew how to get back to the King's Cross area and try again. This was, I knew, the wrong way to go about it, but it's better to start from a known than guess at an unknown. As a result, I probably clocked up another 2 or 3 miles of London streets on top of the intended 3 mile or so journey to the gig from the station.

I had plenty of time, and I earned the sandwich I had between parking my bike and entering the gig. The gig itself was smashing and the front row, which I shouldn't really have occupied (forcing the MC to pretend not to know me in order to make jokes at my expense without it looking like a setup), was full of good company. If I can have an emphatic conversation with someone about musicals, then I'm happy. That happened.

The route back from the gig was much simpler, partly down to the fact that I'd done a subset of "the knowledge" in advance, and so knew a lot more of the territory... though I did lose my sense of direction for a bit.

I like cycling through London.

On the train back, I stood with my bike for much of the way. I was leaning on it at one stop and a guy got on the train and also started leaning on it. He was leaning on my saddle. I was briefly affronted and then I thought "nah - it's only a bike... think of something funny to say instead". He desisted for a bit and then, later, he returned to leaning on my saddle. I said "You can lean on that if you want, but it's had my arse on it". It's not worthy of Oscar Wilde, but it brings a smile to my lips.

Sadly, the exhaustion of the journey was enough to inspire musings and pinings and going through the texts on my phone for a bit. Note to self - don't.

Last night's cycling was a sort of dry run for today's "don't bring your car to work day". So, the success on the bike was going to dictate whether or not I decided to leave the car on the drive and cycle into work. It would take some organising. I'd have to take my work clothes in, shower in the office before commencing the workday, and then come back. I wasn't sure I could do it. I set my alarm for early just in case.

Despite a fashionably late wake up (at least by cycling-to-work standards), I decided to go for it. I wanted to show that I could adhere to a local initiative to try alternative transport. I wanted to show my team that I had the mettle to carry out my threat of cycling in. It's over 10 miles and there are some hills and some high speed roads, but I'd cycled the route once before, in about an hour, and I could do it again.

I hadn't quite factored the lack of breakfast and morning wooziness into the equation. However, I found myself with a rucksack and a bike and the road running underneath my wheels... and I bloody did it. It took just less than an hour and I had to count the rotations of the pedals for the last 100 or so strokes to get me up the last hill and to the office, but I made it.

Then I discovered the work car park was as busy as ever. There was barely room to park my bike. So, never mind. I had succeeded. Just the small question of getting home to deal with... but later on. First, I had to shower and get to my desk.

I'll be honest. Today wasn't in any way my finest hour. I may have been cranky from the lack of sleep, or the lack of energy, or the stress, or the constant meetings, or the sense of interruption of the things I was trying to tie up. I don't know. I wasn't quite as inspiring as I wanted to be today. I have much ground to make up to get on top of what I need to achieve. Some problems are harder than they seem and they already seem quite hard.

And so it was that I was back at my bike at 7.13 - some 11 hours after I first got on it to go to work. This is not exceedingly good. However, it was good that I hadn't given up on the day and the challenge of blasting some miles away. In fact, I was more determined than ever to call the day a cycling success, even if it wasn't a software engineering high point (though it wasn't the lowest point either in those terms - I am still feeling positive, just harried). Anyhoo. I had my moments on the trip home, including a bit where, after a hint that it might happen, and some shouting at myself to chivvy myself along, as well as some triumphant shouting at a sign, I made one of the "slow down, it's 30 miles an hour here" signs light up. That's right. I was pretty much speeding on my push bike, and they can't take no licence away from me for doing that, because you don't get a licence. Ha ha ha. I'm a maverick on 2 wheels. Eat my dust.

I got home, saddle sore, but contented. It seems to be less than an hour back home from the office. Various stresses were worked out of my system. Various fluids too.

I had a shower, went out for a meal, watched a movie, took in various forms of calories, without caring too much about it, and now it's late, I've played my Scrabble moves for the night and I'm off to sleep, perchance to wake up in the morning with aching limbs.

I'm taking the car into work on Monday!


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