Harry's Corner - The Wonder of Cycling (February 2019)
We dream of going out on a nice warm sunny day, the roads are quiet, the birds singing in the trees, we feel super fit, the wheels are whirling, hills are no problem, the air is clean and fresh, motorist wait to overtake you and give you a friendly wave as they pass (you’re return wave is conventional and not with two fingers) it is utopia, the countryside wizzes by and you find the best tea stop ever, and then you wake up!
The rain is lashing off the window and you have a sore hip where you came off the day before, your legs cramp up in bed causing you to pull the duvet off your better half, which doesn’t get the day off to a good start, and then you remember the reality. The bike will be rusting because of the rain and you need to oil it but you have to go to work, and then there is the punctured inner tube waiting to be repaired in the back pocket of your jacket, the wet cycling shoes and so it goes on.
Weird or what? we get home wet, tired and hungry and while you are still trying to get your wet socks off, your better half says, “Had a good ride pet?”, you say, “Great, I felt alright today” now we don’t really want to lie but we know if we say anything else it will be “I told you so, you should have come to the shops with me” What you do not mention is that you’ve never had a puncture for months and then get one when it’s blowing a gale, the rain is horizontal and it’s freezing cold. You struggled with the tyre because it’s was tight on the rim and with rain drops dripping from your nose, your fingers were freezing and your hands oily (it’s always the back wheel) and you lost the valve covers in the long grass.
And then there is the constant quest for faster times or better placings, you’ve put up with all the trials and tribulations of training and you still find yourself towards the back of the bunch or your times are not improving, what does that prove? Are the rest on happy baccie or are they just more masochistic than you, you decide it must be the latter and resolve to go out no matter what the weather, faster and further.
And it doesn’t get any better as you get older, the speed gets slower, the miles get less and aches and pains appear in places where you didn’t think existed. It’s now the children and grandchildren telling you to be careful you are getting older, as though you need telling! Conversations between your friends have morphed from race results to medical results, from heart pace makers to hip replacements and as old men do, all repeating the same stories over and over. You have to accept that other cyclists are going to pass you as though you are standing still, when runners are running faster than you can cycle, when kids ride alongside laughing and when drunks take the mickey and try to keep up with you drunkenly slobbering on the handlebars.
And so it goes on, sad and deluded, but it’s great, isn’t it?And some of us have been deluded for 60 years but still think it’s great, just remember the good times with fondness and forget the bad and when you pass overweight people with walking sticks,think yourself lucky and just be grateful for the bike! we might be knackered, but we are happily knackered!
Harry Brown's Memories of cycling with the Houghton CC in the Fifties (late Jan' 2019)
Harry’s memories here as a .pdf file, click on red link.
HARRYS CORNER: Back to the Future - it could happen? (Jan 2019)
Recently a cyclist in France broke the world hour record for a 100 years old man recording a fantastic 17 miles. Aging is becoming less and less important when it comes to competing in sport, ok so he is not going to beat a twenty years old but could the twenty years old do the same eighty years later? Well not now, but the way that medicine is advancing it may be possible in the future, if that is the case then by 2070 the Tour De France could have a very different look from today.
TDF 2070 stage 1 Angers
The Tour De France stage 1 starts at Angers for veterans of 90 to 110 years old, the favourites this year are a team from England once again sponsored by Boots anti-aging cream and Lithium Heart Pacemaker Batteries Ltd, this year they are fielding a relatively young team of 90 year olds, well below the maximum permitted age of 110. There is much merriment at the start with the 100 riders shouting loudly at each other as their hearing aids have been confiscated due to an infringement by the Russian team the previous year when it was found they were hacking into them and giving false instructions to the leaders who had disappeared in the opposite direction to the rest.
The smell of rheumatoid cream hangs in the airand there are many delays due to weak bladders and faulty Asthma inhalers. The Brexit negotiations are still being broadcast over the loud speakers (with Theresa May’s great granddaughter taking the lead), they set off at the rapid pace of 15 miles per hour preceded by the advertising caravan and followed by a number of opportunistic hearses looking for business, tape measures at the ready. The first prime was won by the Dutch team who had exemptions for medicinal Cannabis, Morphine and super steroids, they crested the summit effortlessly closely followed by the Japanese team whose heart pacemakers were revving at 190bpm and causing interference on the team radios.
At the summit the French team were disqualified when one of their team sweating profusely melted his makeup and revealed that he was really only 85. The Polish team were moving as one well-honed machine, perfectly in line and slip streaming each other only inches apart and were soon leading the bunch. The commissar driving alongside became suspicious when a spanner flew out of the mechanics hand and stuck to the frame of one of the riders, it was suspected that they had super magnets inside their frames which attracted the hip and knee replacements of the rider in front giving an unfair advantage, however a mobile crane travelling in the opposite direction caused the whole team to veer across the road towards it. It took hours to disentangle the frames for which burning equipment had to be used.
After 60 miles the Dutch team were so high they were sitting on the grass verge smoking happy baccie with silly smiles on their faces and waving as the riders passed. The British team took the lead on the last climb of the day and crossed the line as winners only for a complaint to the stewards from the second placed Danish team about their excessive farting during the sprint which caused other teams to drop back. An enquiry was held while the whole GB team rushed to the toilets during which medical evidence was produced of incontinence by the team doctor, the British team were given the stage but with the condition that air fresheners were sewn inside their skin suits for the rest of the race.
FOOTNOTE: The Brexit negotiations are still not concluded, Michel Barnier’s body can be seen embalmed in the Louvre with two fingers raised and a smug smile on his face. The statue of Jean-Claude Juncker stands beside him at a slight angle looking at though it will fall over and holding a bottle of vino.
Harry Brown and Noel Knox re-living past glories (October 2018)
Harry Brown and Noel Knox re-living past glories – 27th~29th Oct’ 2018
Wanting to show that we could still do it at 79 we planned to cycle to Cockermouth for the annual Solway CC dinner which we attend every year usually by car. Knowing that we would unlikely to make it all the way from Sunderland we left the car at Causey Hill caravan site Hexham. We left the car on Saturday morning at 9.30 in minus degree temperatures carrying saddle bags and panniers and in a bitterly cold wind rode via Langley – Bearsbridge – Whitfield to Alston where we had a break with a welcome bacon sandwich and coffee. By the time we reached Hartside we had a tail wind which made the long drag to the summit a lot easier than we had anticipated but at the summit it was -7 degrees, the café of course in burnt down but the road down the other side has been re-surfaced which was great but wewere wary of icy patches on the smooth surface. The café at Langwathby station is only open on evenings now and is up for sale so we had to stop at Melmerby to thaw out at the bakery for coffee and a fantastic ham and cheese quiche. We took the back road into Penrith, the centre of which was barred to traffic due to a festival then through Greystoke. The track from Threkeld is closed due to bridges being swept away in the recent floods and we were diverted towards the Stone Circle, however the banks leading to it are horrendous and not what you want at the end of a hard day. We arrived at the Derwent hill activities centre where we were staying at 4.30.Sunday.Bitterly cold again and there being no cooking facilities at our digs we left at 7am to ride by Bassenthwaite lake and village to Cockermouth where we had breakfast. The dinner was 12am for 12.30 so to use up the time we toured the local lanes which Noel had known from years ago when he worked nearby, our route was blocked by another bridge swept away in the floods and after a lengthy detour arrived at the venue at 12.15. Hundith Hall Hotel is a fantastic venue with a choice of thirteen courses starter, mains and sweet with coffee and biscuits the normal price is £16.75 but the club subsidised it by £1.50 out of our annual subs of £2, a lesson there I think! Afterwards we returned to Keswick via Winlater pass parts of which we had to walk.Monday.Again very cold we left at 7am looking for somewhere for breakfast, the camp site café at Braithwaite did not open till after 8 so we pushed on not wanting to waste time, we bypassedthe A66 where possible helped by road works where we could ride protected by the closed road and crossed the head of Bassenthwaite lake to pass the Castle inn heading uphill to Uldale. The route was very hilly and from there it just got worse on reaching Caldbeck we found a café open for a bacon sandwich and coffee. Dalstone – Durdar – Wetherall –
Warwick Bridge – Brampton were continuous climbs, we stopped at Lanercost for another coffee, before reaching Gilsland we went off course up more hills passing by the roman wall.By this time we were feeling tired and thought of getting the train, however the station at Gilsland was closed in 1960’s so we plodded on to Greenhead and Haltwhistle where we boarded a train for the last few miles to Hexham. There is a mile long un-ridable steep bank to the caravan site so a long weary day was capped with a difficult walk.We had a great weekend, tiring, exhausting and cold but all that was overcome with a sense of achievement and knowing that after all these years we could still cope with a difficult ride, in all we rode approx.150 miles. We travelled through wonderful scenery, had some good laughs and will certainly do it again next year all being well and hopefully be up for it in our 80th year.
Solway CC annual subscription £2 dinner subsidised by £1.50.
Route:Hexham – Langley – Bearsbridge – Whitfield – Alston – Hartside – Penrith – Greystoke – Stone Circle Keswick.. Keswick – Cockermouth – circular route through the lanes to Hundith Hall – return to Keswickvia Winlater pass. Keswick – Brathwaite – Bassenthwaite – Uldale – Caldbeck – Dalstone – Durdar – Wetherall– Warwick Bridge – Brampton – Lanercost – Banks – Gilsland – Greenhead – Haltwhistle
Harry Brown's thoughts on technology (December 2018)
Corrective Lessons for Motorists.
It is time that the car industry got wise to motorists that are a danger to cyclists, I mean it cannot be beyond the wit of man to devise some preventative measures that could be incorporated into the build of the car.
It is not that they intend to be dangerous (would I say such a thing?) no I am sure that when driving at 30 plus miles an hour and thinking of what there is to do at work or what will be for dinner or cursing the local football team, there was no intention m’lord when I passed that cyclist by half and inch I was just thinking about the wife and kids, no harm meant!And I did see him when he fell on the pavement m’lord and stopped.
What we need is training, motorist training, you can train cats, dogs, rats etc. so why not motorists? The method used on animals is punishment and reward, now I am not saying corporal punishment of say 20 lashes for just missing a cyclist or making it a hanging offence for knocking one down (god forbid I should think of something like that!). No preventive measures would be the best and with the latest advances in cognitive recognition software it is possible now to institute some training while motoring.
Before any motorists complain that it will take the fun out of scaring cyclists witless, which after all passes the time while driving to work and adds brownie points on the satnav, I would like to point out that even big game hunting has been banned, so get real! It must be relatively easy to incorporate eye recognition devices in the rear view mirror, tracking the motorist’s eye movements, a brain scanning device in the head rest and a forward radar detecting upcoming cyclists.
So this would be the scenario, Claud, our happy motorist is driving along with the heater going at full blast,picking his nose and with his trousers unbuttoned to let his large stomach hang out,the radio is loudly playing to his already damaged ear drums and he is thinking about the night of lust his wife has promised him if he does the hoovering when he gets home. A cyclist appears ahead, his brain waves are dead (more dead than normal) his eyes don’t move so at one hundred yards a moderately severeelectric shock is administered to the steering wheel, his eyes will now be wide open, his hair on end and the audio circuit will pick up the expletives, this will be construed as a success.
On the other hand if this is not sensed, at 70 yards a 500volt shock is delivered through the seat into his crotch, his screams will activate the car braking system which will bring the car to a controlled stop, the radio will go off and while he is still paralysed he will be given a taped message about driving carefully and avoiding cyclists. Meanwhile the cyclist in front will mount the pavement and do a quick bunk just in case he is looking for revenge when he does recover.
Now this might seem a bit harsh but repeated doses until he begins to realise that cyclists are not there to be knocked down is better than other suggestions such as, fitting chariot type long blades to the bike wheels to slash his tyres, carrying a shotgun fitted to the handlebars or hiring a tandem with an ex-boxer on the back to take care of things while you are laying on the ground wondering what hit you.
Well we live in hope!