Monthly Archives: December 2011

On Going A Bike Ride

“One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I like to go by myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone…” So begins my favourite of William Hazlitt’s essays,On Going A Journey, which I re-read yet again the other day, on a rainy, blustery afternoon while sprawled in an armchair beside the Christmas tree, as you do this time of year. Just substitute the words “Bike Ride’ for ‘Journey’ and you have my sentiments exactly.

Pillars of the Community

One of the many things I love about cycling through the English countryside is the breezy familiarity you acquire here with antiquity and tradition. By that I don’t mean just the big-ticket items, the ruined castles, Norman churches and picturesque 15th century pubs, all of which by the way I see all the time on my daily jaunts, but all the little, common everyday things. Take for example those classic old Royal Mail pillar boxes.

They are so ubiquitous, so much a part of the accepted scenery, that you hardly notice them, a dash of scarlet on a curbside or at a rural crossroads, hidden in plain view. But when you look more closely you discover that some of these post boxes are old enough, antique enough if you will, to be museum pieces – or at least they would be anywhere else.

Rainy Mornings

Nothing like cold wind-blown rain splashing in your face at four-thirty on a dark December morning to wake you up and let you know you’re alive – a double espresso should be half so bracing. And while I hardly consider myself a fair-weather cyclist I must admit there are mornings, like this one, when it becomes a test of my good humour and resolve to push off down the street at such an hour into a cold hard rain. But once I am out there, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Book Review: It’s All About The Bike

A fast fun read, this book’s title is a cheeky play on the that of Lance Armstrong’s best-selling account of his surviving cancer and wining the Tour de France. I enjoyed it, but over the course of its 208 pages, I found Penn’s choice of title takes on an ironic truth – this book is indeed all about the bike.

Picaresque Freedoms

As I was tooling down the seafront this morning,feeling bold and adventurous and not a little rebellious, I found myself thinking back to the time I hopped aboard my bicycle right here in Hastings and pedaled off to Istanbul, pretty much on the spur of the moment; how I rolled up in front of the Pera Palas Hotel six weeks later and went inside for a celebratory beer at the Orient Express Bar, having found my way out there by guess and by golly.

‘Tis The Season

Last weekend was the big turning-on of municipal Christmas lights in the villages and towns in our corner of Sussex, as it probably was everywhere else in Britain as well. Consequently the past week has seen me detouring down all sorts of streets and byways on my morning rides, just for the pleasure of the…

My (First) Bicycle and I

My first bicycle was a curvy Eisenhower-era Schwinn. I loved it. I only wish now I could remember it more clearly. The fact-loving journalist in me, always keen to provide that telling detail, would love to be able to pin it down, describe it as a Schwinn such-and-such and segue into a nostalgic riff about…

Thirty Miles By Lamplight

It’s quarter to five on a dark and frosty December morning, and I’m spinning along the grand old Edwardian seafront at Bexhill, past the flood-lit coronation pavilion, with a waxing gibbous moon floating high over my left shoulder and the lights of Eastbourne twinkling in the distance, all still and solemn and slumbering in the…

Review: Shimano MT60 Touring Shoes

I may be a writer of prose but my feet are poets – Longfellows they are; long and skinny, and not always so easy to find footwear to fit, which is one of the many reasons I like these Shimano MT60 touring shoes. Not only are they durable, comfortable, highly water resistant and look presentable when you’re off the bike as well as when you’re on it, they are also made on a narrower last so they fit me well. And that is something of a rarity in these days of wide, extra wide and super-mega-wide fittings in just about every other brand of shoe I come across.

Mysteries in the Mist

A cold, clingy, ground mist was shrouding the marshes this morning on my ride over to the ruins of Pevensey Castle, throwing a note of caution in the air along with a nip of frost, but at the same time adding a pleasurable touch of misty, moody Hound-of-the-Baskervilles atmosphere.  I kind of like riding in…