Looks like you're on your own, kids...
At this point I've had more triumphant returns to blogging than Dame Nellie Melba, and if you're too young to know what that means, I highly recommend you toddle off to Wikipedia. Just remember to come back because I need the reader numbers.
I read a rather inspiring book yesterday (although i'm not sure that's what the author was going for, but eh) and so here I am today, hunting and pecking on the keyboard and squinting at the blog menu trying to remember how to write a new post.
This most recent absence is explained by the recent merger of Spokes(wo)man Global Financial Industries and Reynholm Industries who do, I'm not sure exactly what yet, but they sure are creating a lot of havoc in the workplace, which is really interfering with my creative writing process.
I was farknarkling around last month and saw that Fat Cyclist had made his first two cycling books available for FREE on Kindle, so having piqued my curiosity (ie triggered my braincell that loves freebies of any kind) I downloaded them, which of course necessitated clicking on a link in a tweet which took me to Amazon on my iPad, which suddenly insisted it had never been to Amazon before (a filthy lie) and made me attest that I was not a robot, then reset my password and all sorts of sigh-inducing malarkey which made me wish I'd bought the things for actual money so that I had the right complain about all of this. But I thought Sprocketman might like them, so I carried on, in the sense that I persevered, not that I made a huge fuss. Isn't English confusing sometimes ?!
So, free books acquired for Sprocketman to read (I had no interest) I carried on with reading everything ever written by the Altered Carbon guy (fabulous) and then Ready Player One (eh, it'll make a good movie) dude and his entire oeuvre, and there I was a month later with nothing new to read and I thought I'd poke my nose into Fatty's book. Well, I came up for fresh cups of tea only and read the first book in a single sitting.
What really struck me was - it was a book about the sheer love of riding your bike, anywhere, for any reason, written by a really nice guy who loves riding his bike and telling stories about it. This is the sort of guy you'd like as a neighbour, that you'd wave at as you went past on your own bike and stop and chat with, later thinking how lucky you were in your choice of neighbour because he was nothing like that bitch you once lived next to you who well, you get the picture.
Why did I think bike books wouldn't appeal to me ? Because I'm a commuter cyclist, and i don't enjoy tech-heavy bike-bro articles. Those things aren't aimed at people like me so a book surely, would just be a lengthier version of same ?
Nah. it was anything but, and I loved it.
And reading it also reminded me of how I love riding my bike, and also how much I love writing; and how work had really got in the way of both of those things.
And so, here we are today. In looking for inspiration for Sprocketman (who is off riding a Zwift multi-day race in our spare room, and it's a bugger from the screams I can hear) I Instead managed to inspire myself back into writing, accompanied by a cup of tea and a pack of Jaffa Cakes. One step at a time Dear Reader.
Oh muh god, this is such classic Barry Larry Terry !
JFC though, is this the poster child for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or what ?
"Unlawful possession of a racoon" ? Bloody cyclists.
But hey, been there, got the t-shirt.
My god, the cobbles were brutal ! Worse than last year !
As always, scouring the globe for tasteful presents for the cyclist in your life;
Why are big square-nosed SUVs everywhere? Because people love them and they sell.
Those front-end features that kill and maim pedestrians are, there's no other word for it, popular with consumers. The critical design factor of the high front end pushes people below the wheels instead of over the hood the way lower model cars do.
In 2015, researchers at the University of Michigan determined that pedestrians are more than three times as likely to be killed when struck by an SUV than when struck by a regular car. Researchers in pedestrian safety in SUV collisions have been warning about the front end design of SUVs since 2003.
Keith Bradsher is the author of High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV - download your Kindle edition now, and see if you can tie in these statements with SUV drivers you know and possibly love.
SUV drivers are similar to minivan drivers demographically, but they are more “self-oriented” psychologically, Bradsher has written. They are more fearful of crime, less likely to be involved in their communities, and less committed to their families, he wrote.
Minivan buyers tend to be more comfortable than sport utility buyers with being married; sport utility buyers are more commonly concerned with still feeling sexy, and like the idea that they could use their vehicles to start dating again.
In 2000, DaimlerChrysler Director of Market Research David Bostwick told Bradsher (click through to full article) that for consumers, ”It’s not safety as the issue, it’s aggressiveness, it’s the ability to go off the road.” Research also showed that SUV owners drive faster and place a lower value on being courteous on the road.
SUVs are designed specifically to appeal to this psychological profile, executives admitted:
DaimlerChrysler has chosen high-riding designs even for the two-wheel-drive versions of its sport utilities, even though they are unlikely to be driven over rough terrain and are therefore unlikely to need to ride higher, said David C. McKinnon, DaimlerChrysler’s director of vehicle exterior design. Mr. McKinnon said the company’s highest executives had told him repeatedly to ‘get them up in the air and make them husky.’
Up in the air, where drivers can't see dogs, or little kids.
Just great isn't it ?
Feeling both crafty and the need to transport several baguettes ?
Et voila !
Another glorious ride home, another middle-aged man with an incipient heart-attack left in my wake.
I'm riding homewards, and it is just the nicest day to be out of the office a smidge early and on one's bicycle - not too hot, the wind is a tailwind or a sidewind, but thankfully never a headwind.
After a little rust-bucket tries to change lane on me; as in literally on me, and I direct a cheery little stream of profanity into their open passenger window, I shrug and give up on my fellow hoomins and pop on over to the adjacent bike lane. I'm pretty mellow this early in the cyclist hunting season.
Why was I not already in the bike lane, you may ask ? Because it is in absolute shit repair, it's a shared walking/cycling path, strewn with abandoned shopping trolleys, potholes, inexplicable drifts of sand and gravel and pedestrians who walk five abreast ignoring our mandatory bike bells - in other words it's a bloody disgrace. And also because it's not mandatory to ride in a bike lane.
So I bip on over and join this dude waiting at the lights on the bike path. I think I've seen him around, and I suspect from seeing him in passing he has an e-bike. I think not much more of him than that; lights change, off we go.
Of course I'm out in the lead, because my bike is awesome. I see an approaching pedestrian, walking on the wrong side of the lane naturally, and I go to change lane to allow them to pass without disturbing them, but I can't, because old mate from the lights is suddenly riding in parallel with me; he's in the wrong lane, huffing and puffing mightily and very red in the face, and more importantly boxing me in so I can't move for the walker. I look sideways at him in amazement, but he won't move.
The pedestrian steps off onto the grass, no doubt going home to write in their blog about "bloody cyclists" racing through Macquarie Uni.
Eh. Sometimes one races, and sometimes races are thrust upon one.
I SMH, and actually put some effort into it, and leave him and his red face and flying droplets of sweat behind. I don't mind chatting about my bike's capabilities, and I'll happily cop to it being electric, but don't try and shoulder me off a path and expect me to drop back to protect your ego. Yeah, c'mon, if you think you're good enough. Just don't be a dick about it.
He chased me all throughout Macquarie until I entered the National Park and he dropped further and further behind in my rear-view mirror. I vaguely hoped I wasn't leaving a corpse by the path side for the next cyclist to have to bunny-hop over.
I got home and patted my bike fondly.
Only 46; far too young and wonderful to be dead.
Bedwetters who probably still live at home with their parents have threatened violence against marchers in New Zealand's upcoming "Glitter Boob March".
But the trolls make a good point; any imbecile mouth-breather can take a car and murder a group of people.
And to make a no-doubt empty brag that that's what you're going to do to a group of women ?
Pathetic waste of human skin.
I'm all for finding you, locking you in your beloved car, and sending it off to the crushers.
Well, the Gumeracha medical centre is ready for Stage One of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.
Shame they couldn't get their hands on one of these in time for their montage...
After a recent survey finding that Queensland cyclists were terrified of local motorists, the PR-disaster is that is Anne (not-so) Savage of Bicycle Queensland came up with this little gem for the ages;
Where to start !? So many wrong wrong wrong concepts in one statement.
Oh, okay, let's unpack "Ride White". Obvs no-one at Bicycle Queensland read the news in 2017, because this campaign went soooo well for Nivea last year;
So thanks BQ, for associating cyclists with White Supremacist hate groups, like we don't have enough problems already. Good work !
"Fly the White Flag". Why stop there ? Why not suggest we all wear "The White Feather" ? Again, no students of history at BQ, or are there ? Are we just dealing with a bunch of white-shoe-wearing, Mango-eating, Toad-licking surrender monkeys ? Bah. A pox on the lot of you.
And the classiest move of all, the appropriation of the hashtag #WhiteHelmets ?
The White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence is a volunteer organisation that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and in Turkey. The majority of their activity in Syria consists of urban search and rescue in response to bombing, medical evacuation, evacuation of civilians from danger areas, and essential service delivery. 159 White Helmets have been killed since the organisation's inception.
So yeah, steal the name of some of the bravest volunteers the human race has to offer for your shitty victim-blaming bike campaign. Anything other than demand better enforcement of road rules by our police forces and legal system.
Seriously Bicycle Queensland, rethink your life choices.
During Sprocketman's month off, which intersected quite nicely with the maximum two days running without interruption I managed from Spokes(wo)man Global Financial Industries; we went and had lunch together.
This is quite the novelty for us. We sat at an outdoor table at one of our favourite Thai restaurants, which sadly borders on the carpark for that strip of restaurants and shops. But, still school holidays so the carpark was practically empty, and certainly the twenty or so spaces in front of the restaurant, next to our table, were.
Until. A big ute arrived, parked right in front of our table and left the engine running. And running. And running. Aaaand running.
Finally we looked through the cloud of exhaust to see what the wanker from "Jamie's Gardens" was actually doing. Reading his phone. Great.
Just as we were about to walk over, tap on the window and ask him to switch his engine off or hey, just piss off, he jumped out of the cab and collected his takeaway, then drove away, no doubt to blight someone else's life.
Ten minutes later a woman with kids came and did the same thing - this time we made a few gestures, apparently the right ones because she drove off much faster.
But seriously, who does that ? Parks next to an outdoor restaurant table and leaves their engine running.
Love it. This is what we need - some pretty blunt talking.
But goldarn it, it's [only] a clever PSA. No, Wathan Funeral Home isn't real. But it does have a website, so that triggered snowflake motorists with opposable thumbs capable of Google-ing are confronted with this message:
If you're here, you've probably seen our "Text and Drive" billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you'd be right.
It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we're not a funeral home.
We're just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving. That's right. More. And while most people wouldn't even think about drinking and driving, over half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while behind the wheel. That's more than half of the drivers on the road today risking their lives, their passengers' lives and the lives of their fellow motorists and pedestrians.
Which should make you even madder than our billboard did.
Cieslok Media designed the ad to get people thinking about the real consequences of texting and driving.
"People see and hear the words 'Don't text and drive' almost every day, but the number of people doing it keeps going up and up. So we wanted to think of a different way of saying it that would make people think about the real consequences. Which is where 'Text and drive' came from."
Bugger it. We need these for real.
Oh look - he's going for the Cello Jersey !
You're nicked mate, or the Japanese equivalent thereof. Love it.
Footage shows the 610 horsepower Lamborghini, which has a top speed of more than 200mph, pulling slowly away from the junction, before the police officer comes speeding down a nearby path to set off in pursuit.
Unfortunately the video does not show the police officer’s efforts in full, instead skipping forward to the catch, where he gestures at the driver in an apparent attempt to show them what they had done wrong.
The driver then pulls up at the side of the street, where they are issued with a ticket by the officer, who has neatly parked his bike – complete with flat pedals and basket – a little further up the road.
At the time I was understandably preoccupied and so didn't get around to finishing my post about it, but back in August I finally did it - I crashed, and it was spectatcular.
I was reminded of this unfinished crash-post yesterday when I almost severed my finger with a pair of electric garden shears. As I contemplated the blood streaming down my arm I said to self "Well, that's the second finger on that hand totally stuffed now" which reminded me that I hadn't yet finished writing about the incident involving the first finger.
So early August we swapped out the tyres, the derailleur and the gear system on my beloved Jarifa electric bike. That day was a clusterfork in it's own right, we got to a certain stage of the installation of all these new things and then Sprocketman said in a spritely tone, "And now we just need to drop it off to Jake to finish the rest."
This was news to me, and certainly to Jake, because you need to book bike services several days in advance, it was past midday on a Saturday, Jake doesn't open Sundays and I needed to ride this to work on Monday.
What should have taken an hour or two took closer to five. I helped in the workshop, took a nap in the car, read a book, eventually Sprocketman and I went to an exhibition at the nearest museum, and came back and it still wasn't done. The workshop was closing around us and the bike mechanics were working by candlelight when the last forking cable was shoved into it's allocated space within the frame cavity and victory was declared. After many thanks and hugs and a case of beer we bought for the mechanics, we left.
After a few commutes I wanted to take the bike out and give it a proper, uninterrupted lash on a long bike path. I wanted to test the new brakes, the new gears, see how fast I could go when not inhibited by traffic and road rules.
After what was a good day of riding and getting to grips quite literally with the new gearing system, we headed homeward. Just like frisky young thoroughbreds who sense their stable in the distance, it's fair to say we were absolutely fanging it on the last stretch homeward. A miserable two kilometres from the end of the path on a corner descent there is a series of speed bumps, and you can get some quite good air under you as yourocket along. I was literally thinking about Peter Sagan's early career as a BMX rider when I hit the last bump, jumped, and landed really really badly. The bike wobbled, the tyres skidded in the loose grit and gravel to the side of the pathway, I braked but couldn't stop nor steer out of it. Later on my Garmin would tell me I was going 40 km/h at this time impact. This, then, was it.
I growled "No nonnononono" quite angrily, however my bike failed to respond to voice commands and as I brought my left arm up to shield my face I hit first the metal guardrail and then the metal fence behind it, compacting my shoulder painfully into my body. I can still hear the crunching noise. My left hand snagged on the fence and was twisted until yanked free as I continued on my merry way. The impact and the momentum spun me around and the guardrail smashed me along and under the jawline and Isweartogod it felt like my skull was being lifted off my neck, the thought flashed through my mind that this was what decapitation felt like. I really thought it was coming off at that second. I continued the spin, went over the guard-rail on my right side, hit the fence, bounced off again, this time flat onto my back back onto the pathway.
I couldn't move my legs, but I rolled myself over with my only weakly working limb, my right arm, and grabbed my legs and pulled them under me to try and sit up. I looked down. My left hand was crunched into a tiny fist with my fingers plaited at highly improbable angles. I couldn't understand why I couldn't feel specific injuries, until i realised my entire body was in shock and I couldn't feel specific injuries because everything hurt so much. And then I tried to move my left arm. i yelped a little bit right there, as the bones seemed to crunch under the surface, so I stopped doing that.
I used my right hand to unplait the fingers of my left and wiggled them. They moved rather sluggishly but that hurt too. I realised I was on a blind corner on a descent and was a pretty good target for the next cyclist who could be along at any minute now, so I tried to gather my legs again to stand, and fell over onto my other side This was not helpful.
Sprocketman who had been in the lead was now a good few hundred metres away, and I needed him back right now. My phone was god knows where, my bike and airhorn too far away to reach. I let out a huge Tarzan-like roar of pain and anger and hoped wherever he was by then, he'd hear and come back. I'm not saying birds stopped singing in the trees and prides of lions sought shelter, but it felt very very primal. And it felt good to get all that rage out.
Sure enough a minute later Sprocketman arrived on the scene and helped me off the path with a cheery "C'mon Hoogerland, walk it off."
This made me simultaneously laugh, wince in great pain, and vow to kill him at a later date.
He picked up my poor bike, noted I'd bent the carbon rods of my new pannier rail (thank you Tailfin for the replacement).
I looked over the side of the embankment at the sharp rocks and the fall to the concrete canal and thought I'd come out of this better than I might of.
I was truly worried I'd broken a collarbone, but I could feel everything else starting to come back, including the pain. But I could, very wobbly, now stand.
And you know what ? I had no choice but to get back on my bike and ride out of there, back to the car. I don't know how long the walk would have been, but i couldn't face it. We hoisted me into the saddle and I peddled back quite slowly, with an ow ow ow ow whenever i had to exert any more than basic levels of effort. I hadn't cried or snivelled, and I rode out of my crash. In that moment I felt a lot of empathy for the pro-riders who limp along after an accident to finish the stage.
Back to the car, had a drink, instantly threw up. Made it home, showered the blood and grit off, fell into bed. Lay there apparently with concussion, took few days off work, worked from home the rest of the week, saw a doctor, diagnosed with all sorts of things, the most annoying being the whiplash which took 3 months of treatment to really get on top of. The longest lasting was/is the bruise I still have on my inner leg, that's now on it's 17th week and still present. The weirdest was the third finger of my left hand. The nail polish was peeled off in a single intact sheet from my left index finger, and the nail was intact. The polish remained on my other fingers, holding together the crazy-paving that was the fingernails of the rest of my left-hand. Once I felt safe to remove that I was left with this curiously stunted finger, I seem to have compressed it, losing several millimetres in length of my nail bed and my finger overall. It no longer hurts, but it's definitely wonky and has a ski-jump angle to it now that is really quite noticeable.
Ah well. Frail and uncertain is the life of the professional hand model.
So, I have now crashed and lived to tell the tale. I ride a little slower on descents now, but apart from that, nothing has really changed. if I could go back in time and tell myself to take that corner more carefully I would, but only to avoid the ongoing nuisance that was the whiplash symptoms and its treatments. Everything else passes. Another fear faced.
What's the difference between a crash (as I persisted in calling this) and an accident ?
This is a point of contention between media and cycling advocates; and with good cause. An accident is when you are following all the rules, not speeding, driving to the conditions such as fog or rain, and generally being a good, law abiding person, when something happens to you that you didn't contribute to and couldn't have forseen. It couldn't have been helped.
A crash however, happens when you are breaking some rule or law, speeding, riding furiously whatever, and could reasonably foresee that something you are doing could lead to an incident or crash.
In my case, I was speeding, taking a corner too fast and jumping over speed humps. My poor decisions, and mostly my fault, with a nod of the head to the arsehole road engineer who placed speed humps on a descending corner of a bike path.
Writing an article and attributing a poor decision making process to an accident does no-one any favours, and leads to the view that these things can't be helped, let alone mitigated.
Yet look at the root cause; were they speeding ? Using a mobile phone, fiddling with the radio ? Been drinking ?
Every one of those are decisions, not accidents.
And back to my crash; to top it all off, we had to ride out past the crazy Magpie who had attacked us in the past, had in fact swooped us on the way into the ride.
Eugh. I was already in pain and quite stiff, so the thought of revving up to outfly this motherforking bird was not what I could deal with right now - but again, we had no choice.
We agreed to ride in parallel at a certain speed, and then as the Magpie swooped, to speed up and ride out of danger, leaving the Magpie having misjudged our speed and foiled yet again, bwah hah.
We agreed to do this. The Magpie however was not in on the plan.
We hit the down ramp quite quickly and I was actually enjoying myself a teeny bit, when we saw the shadow cross the sun, a harbinger of doom. "Go go go" I think I yelled, "Here it comes" yelled Sprocketman at the same time. We floored it. But I rode too fast, Sprocketman slightly too slow, and yes dear Reader, he took a Magpie in the face for me; greater love hath no man etc etc.
And you know, at the car as I was vomiting in a ladylike fashion into the gutter and Sprocketman was wiping the blood from the cut under his eye from the Magpie, I was thinking "I really do love my bike. I wonder when I can get my next ride in?"
Well, isn't this sensible.