I’ve been working lots the last couple of weeks but cycling hasn’t suffered too badly as a consequence. Although at times it’s been a real test to find ways to incorporate cycling into my day. Cycling to van-hire depots (and then driving off in a big white van wearing Lycra), driving to sites and cycling home (and vice-versa the next day) and lastly doing a 55 mile round trip to a site which in hindsight was probably a stretch too far, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
I’ve also been doing a fair bit of DIY recently. First was a vanity project – removing the Shimano logo from the brake callipers of my new bike. I’d bought the Campagnolo Athena groupset for the bike … all except the brake callipers because Campag don’t make brakes with enough clearance for mudguards and tyres wider than 23mm. Maybe they don’t have to worry about mud and Winter tyres in Vicenza, but on the wild and wet roads of Bristol I had to choose a set of brakes capable of straddling my clumpy Winter equipment. However, not wanting to besmirch the elegant image of my bike with a mongrel groupset I dug out the paint-stripper and went to work.
The next project was far more arduous. Three solid days of refurbishment to our flat. Anybody who thinks that spending hours on a bicycle is the definition of hard work should try wallpaper stripping, painting, cutting, drilling, sawing and hammering three days in a row. It’s brutal. Fortunately the paint fumes and a few alcoholic drinks at the end of each day probably took the edge off the pain. For this project I enlisted the help of my Mum, a dab-hand at DIY with amazing energy levels. I thought I possessed high energy levels, but at 6pm on Day 2 when I had collapsed on the sofa she was just getting her second wind.
The great thing about DIY is being able to stand back at the end of the project, look at the results with pride and think to yourself – “We did that”.
Once the dust had settled (and been vacuumed up), I realised I hadn’t been out on the bike for 5 days. Not even heavy legs or heavy rain could put me off a thrash across the Mendip Hills so I set off on an enjoyable ride. It was the sort of weather that forces you to explain to your body that you do actually enjoy this. Driving rain, blustery winds, deep grey skies and huge puddles across the roads. It was refreshing to say the least.
It also lead to much pondering on the pointlessness of waterproof cycling jackets. I own a few and they either seem to fall into two categories – ones which are completely impermeable and cause a ‘boil in the bag’ sweat-inducing effect; or ones which are ‘breathable’ and hence not actually waterproof at all. Either way you end up soaked inside. It was a tough ride, but it wasn’t ‘hard work’. Hard work has been redefined.