7 Up

This retirement malarkey’s definitely got something going for it: except I’m not really properly retired. I’m still doing bits and pieces of software development here and there, just to keep my hand in. Some might say homers, but don’t you worry, it’s all above board and accounted for. I pay my taxes I’ll have you know.

But I do a lot less hours than before, still creative right enough, but way less onerous than before. And I love it.

Yesterday I was talking to a bloke about what I do, and I said that I now regard this bike ride, Ride2Cure2, as my job. I know from LCFN that being on the bike is all consuming: it dominates every waking hour, because even if you’re winding down from today’s miles with a beer in hand, you’re already subconsciously thinking about tomorrow: what’s the weather forecast, when’s the rain coming, what’s the wind direction. All that shit. For nine months I never bothered with the weather forecast and just took it as it came. Now I’m back to being addicted to knowing how every day next week is shaping up.

If you’ve been with me since the (new) start back in July, then you’ll know that I had more than a wee concern about this transition period when I have to do walking and cycling, just to keep Walk2Cure ticking over while I build up Ride2Cure2.

This ain’t easy!

I’ve toyed with walking early doors, like when I first get up, just to get something in the bank, and I’ve toyed with leaving the walking to the back end of the day once the bike is done. If I’m being honest, neither of them works. I knew this was going to be hard: I actually don’t want to be walking at all now that I’m back on the bike. But I committed to both, so it’s happening. It happens every: a tiny wee bit extra over and above the asking rate, just to make tomorrow easier. When I started R2C2, I also needed to walk 52 minutes a day (at my pace), every day. Those 52 minutes are now down to 38 but that’s still 38 more than I’d like, and it’s not coming down fast enough for my liking. Physical effort, as in actually getting off my arse and out the door, is the only thing that will make a difference.

Anyway, what’s been happening this week?

On Tuesday Jane came out with me. She was going to go out on her own at lunchtime but I managed to convince her to come out with the auld pensioner. I took her a nice quiet, flat ten mile route to Killie, of which there are very few round these parts, but she loved it. Then on the way back, we went our separate ways, me out into the wind heading for Troon so I could come back on a tale gale, while Jane forked off to head home. She got soaked. I remember looking at the clouds when we split and thinking “Hmm?” Apparently it was soooo heavy she could barely see where she was going. I know that feeling. Book; T shirt; film; box set. Then add darkness, winter and the A77 to the mix.

My wee excursion was lovely, and when I got to the railway crossing south of the Caledonian Paper Mill at Barassie, I came a across a young (German) couple pouring over an OS map. “Where are you headed” said I, not realising that they were our European friends, although their heavily laden touring bikes were a bit of a giveaway that they were on an excursion. “Ardrossan for the ferry” came the reply.

Within a couple of milliseconds, I’d computed the various routes of getting from that spot to the boat, and none of them filled me with joy (for them): it’s basically what you would call a technical ride: lots of left and rights, lots of changes of surface, and basically Irvine to navigate before you get to the fun stuff.

“I’ll take you.”

“But you’re going the other way”.

“I know but I’m just munching miles so I’ll happily take you to Ardrossan instead of going to Troon.”

So off we set.

Then we got soaked.

The young lady asked if there was anywhere we could stop for lunch so they could eat their sandwiches where it was dry. By now my brain was in full Google Maps mode and I suggested the Maritime Museum about a mile further along the path. But first we’d to stop to whack on the rain jackets: this was serious precipitant.

We had a right good blether in the museum and I told them about X marks the spot. “Why don’t you take a photo of that toy engine hanging from that crane” she said. “Great idea” thought I… “No one will get that.”

Except Les Cullen did within the hour. How the hell did he manage that? Les Cullen: head of tinkering and sleuthing.

So having delivered my European friends to the boat (which was in by the way, and they’d have missed it had they stopped to navigate their way by OS map), I set off to return to HQ. But being of elderly stature, I have an inbuilt need to have a pish from time to time, and I have a secret stash of places stored away in my brain that I can use as required. The foliage is remarkably robust at those sites!

So, there I was taking slightly longer than a Red Bull 2.3 second pit stop when a bloke came by on a (touring bike) and stopped to take his jacket off. “You always get caught when you least expect it” he remarked, and by the time I was done, he was ready to rock n roll too. So we tootled off together. He was on his was back to Lancaster from Cape Wrath, that well known commuting route, and today he was doing Lochgilphead to Ayr. So having navigated the German couple one way, I then navigated my English friend the other way. Then I returned to barracks, and what started out as a 35 miler had somehow become a 48. Nice.

There’s deffo something about bagging 40+ two or three days in a row at the start of the week. It takes the pressure off the back end completely. I’m not ready to go chasing 300’s, not yet anyway, but I’ve learned that the surefire way to bag a stick on 250 is to get to halfway by Wednesday night: after that it’s a doddle.

I’m not there yet for this week, although I’m through 200, because Lady Luck might have a joker up her sleeve: but right now, 250 mile week number seven, straight from the off, is right in the crosshairs. LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma never delivered more than six in a row. So on the day that I arrived in Australia one year ago (today), Ride2Cure2 has already wiped a long standing mark from the record.

7 Up!

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