Posts Tagged 'cycling'

Time Stand Still

“Summer’s going fast, nights growing colder.
Children growing up, old friends growing older.
Freeze this moment a little bit longer.
Make each sensation a little bit stronger.
Experience slips away.
Experience slips away…
The innocence slips away”.

From “Time Stand Still” by Rush.

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The stabilisers are off.  A new chapter begins.  Grazed knees beckon.

These Are Days

“These are the days.
These are days you’ll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you
Are touched by something.
That will grow and bloom in you”.

From “These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs.

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The little small group collective that gather around our dining table and inhabit our home and hearts have been working through a series looking at the topics of simplicity, love and justice in recent weeks. 

There are some big and small ideas that seem to challenge me to the core weekly.  Some little changes I can make and some bigger ones I am trying to work through. 

It’s good to enjoy food and laughs with friends who are also determined to encourage one another to grapple with things it’s easier to dismiss.  For each of us to become who we are meant to be and to think and live counter-culturally at times.

I seem to be hearing lots about consumerism at the minute.  I always falter with that when the new Howies or SAS catalogues arrive.  Mind you, this little piece made me smile:

“Come rain (and there will be), come shine (here’s hoping).  Even if our knees have knobbles and our calves are like sticks, we’ll be hunting through our wardrobes for our favourite shorts.  Because just a few hours of sunshine is all we need to remember those summers when we were kids.  When the sun shone for longer, the days were endless and our only deadline was tea on the table.  And when we got up in the morning and threw on our shorts and t-shirts, grabbed some toast and our bikes or skateboards and left for the day we knew that one day in the future the sun would be shining and we’d be putting on our shorts and remembering that feeling.

These are the days and they always were.”

Peace.

Little Twig

“Your bicycle makes trouble for us all.
Got no brakes.
You got the shakes.
And little boys, well, they drop their toys
When you fly past..yes they do…”

From “Little Twig” by Neil Halstead.

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Read this interesting article in the paper over the weekend.  

This quote caught my attention, “cycling is proven to get safer the more people do it. For instance, a 91% increase in cycle use on London’s main roads between 2001 and 2008 was accompanied by a 33% reduction in cyclist casualties over roughly the same period”.

I also read the following whilst preparing our small group this week, “The massive middle class of the world, numbering some three billion people, travels by bus and bicycle.  Mile for mile, bikes are cheaper than any other vehicle, costing around $100 in most of the Third World and requiring no fuel.  They are also the most efficient form of transportation ever invented and, where not endangered by polluted air and traffic, provide their riders with healthy exercise.”

On yer bike.

Fitter, Happier

“Fitter, happier, more productive,
comfortable,
not drinking too much,
regular exercise at the gym
(3 days a week),
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries ,
at ease,
eating well
(no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)”
From “Fitter, Happier” by Radiohead.

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In a podcast I listened to recently Rob Bell said he had vowed to ask himself about every journey he was making – could he walk it and, if not, could he cycle it?  He said it has transformed his life.  He saw parts of his city that he’d never noticed before, he found time to contemplate things.  He suggested such an approach would save time that many of us make driving to the gym, being there and driving back and reclaim some of our evenings.  He said “It’s hard to consider the lilies at 70 miles per hour”.  It makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m not there yet, but I find myself increasingly considering whether a drive constitutes a non-essential car journey and can be replaced with a walk or ride.  Cycling to work has left me feeling fitter, more focussed and happier and has simply involved better utilising time I would ordinarily have been sat behind my steering wheel.  Twice this week I’ve caught up with a friend on their cycle into work and we’ve had the chance to have a really good chat whilst riding to work. 

I can enjoy life in the slow lane or I can go like stink with the wind in my hair and a smile on my face. Tonight, for the first time, I rode part of the way home with my four year old.  It was one of those snapshot moments streamed full of sunshine and happiness.

It’s true you see the world differently from a saddle.  If you’ve not seen the clip below, then I trust you’ll enjoy Edinburgh from a different perspective.

The Tourist

“Sometimes I get overcharged,
that’s when you see sparks.
They ask me where the hell I’m going?
At a 1000 feet per second,

hey man, slow down, slow down,
idiot, slow down, slow down.

Hey man, slow down, slow down,
idiot, slow down, slow down”.

From “The Tourist” by Radiohead.

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Today’s been one of those days.  I woke up and my mind was racing with all the things I needed to do.  I was late out the door and the bike ride to work felt rushed rather than just fast and enjoyable.  A day of deadlines and interruptions ensued.  Tasks done and a to do list just as long at the end of the day as at the start. 

A ride home into a head-on wind was endured and my mind was whirring over preparation for small group, figuring out who is around to help do music at church on Sunday, enquiries to make with the Planning Department about our house extension, stuff to do and just more of it…

Our Pastor sometimes uses a phrase about “God moving at the speed of love and that being three miles an hour”.  I think what he means is that God can move at the speed of light but often chooses to move at the speed at which we walk.  Thinking about it, the only part in which I slowed down (apart from a really good chat over a meal with a good friend tonight) was the walk home from my parents after collecting my daughter tonight.  She wanted to wear my bike helmet and help push the bike back to our house.  We talked and chatted and laughed and squinted into the spring evening sunshine as she told me about her day.  She forced me to slow down and savour something simple.  Maybe I need to learn from these moments…

Bicycle Race.

“I want to ride my bicycle.
I want to ride my bike.
I want to ride my bicycle.
I want to ride it where I like.”

From “Bicyle Race” by Queen.

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After much deliberation I have taken the plunge and bought a new bike for the commute to and from work (and for general fun and fitness).  I found it helpful to search other blogs and chat-room forums and reviews to assist in my decision – together with some very helpful advice from my neighbour.  I thought it might help someone else if I posted a few comments on my choice.

Firstly, I went for a hybrid which is essentially a mountain bike frame with gearing more suited to road use, particularly more teeth on the front chain sprockets.  I wanted something that would bomb down the cycle lane, so was advised against a comfort or cruising bike and I opted for something with 700 wheels which are larger that the traditional 26″ wheels found on most mountain bikes and many hybrids.  Slick tyres also help with speed and effort for a ride that is mainly on tarmac.

I purchased a Giant Escape R1.  It looks great and rides super-fast! 

There were a couple of essential upgrades.  I reluctantly included mudguards.  I always think they instantly make a bike look boring, but I’ve spent the past few months collecting all kinds of crud on my frame, pannier, clothes and shoes.  I got some Giant QR race guards which are practically invisible and will hopefully limit the amount of spray and rubbish I attract.  I had  to get a new pannier rack given the existence of disk brakes compared with my last bike (a trusty companion of 15 years).  The Top Peak rack is really solid and my Altura Night Vision pannier clips on with more more ease than on my previous rack.  

The bike is matt black and looks pretty mean.  It makes up for the fact that my high viz jacket and 1500 candlepower lights render me brighter than a crowd of ravers with glo sticks.  It’s hard to believe that I didn’t get hit in traffic during my student days of wearing black all the time, cycling daily and often having dead batteries in my lights…

Neighbours

“Neighbours,
Everybody needs good neighbours.
With a little understanding you can find the perfect blend.

Neighbours,
Should be there for one-another
That’s when good neighbours become good friends.”

From the theme tune for “Neighbours” probably inadvertently sung by all of us at one point or another…

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Living in a city can be exciting, but it can also be lonely.  I’ve lived in five different properties in Edinburgh over the past 14 years.  How well did I know any of my neighbours?  Some of the best friendships I made were in the stairwell of my first property purchase, a humble little traditional one bed flat off Dalry Road.  There I found real community in the older folks who’d stayed in the area all their days and could recite all the changes and the people and places and how well Hearts had played in any particular season.  It was mixed with young professionals, just out of Uni or trying to get onto the property ladder.  The flat had a boiler that constantly broke down and a carbon monoxide reading that is frightening with hindsight, yet, I have such fond memories of my time there.

Our latest home also has some of the best neighbours we’ve known.  I love the discussions and laughs we have and the evenings we’ve spent in one another’s homes chatting well past the wee small hours about life, death, the universe and plenty of childish antics.  I enjoy the constant activity in the driveway as campervans and mountain bikes and motor bikes get stripped down and rebuilt.  We seem to operate a barter economy where any favours done for one another are paid for in red wine, produce from one another’s vegetable plots or offers of complimentary curries from Edinburgh’s best take away which is just across the road.

This week alone our neighbours have: assisted my parents in selling their car; advised me on which new bike to purchase for my commute to work (and eased my conscience about buying a new bike rather than trying to modify my 15 year old bike); offered to jointly undertake to get quotes for sorting out our crumbling shared drive-way and excavating our front gardens; taken my creaking 15 year old bike out of my garage and tuned it up, serviced it and returned it with some advice for future use…

Jesus said to “love your neighbour as yourself.”  Now, I know that that doesn’t just relate to whoever lives next door  – but, surely, it starts with the people we have regular contact with.  Who has shown that example more this week – us or them?


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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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