Saturday 2 October: The last couple of days have been busy and what with the weather and the taxi service I run, cycling has taken a back seat - well for two days at least. It is the time of year for students to return to University and yesterday I took my son with a car loaded full of stuff to his chosen seat of learning. Despite all of the problems I have had with my LandRover Discovery it is good at carting heaps of stuff around. Although we did have some problems with the M4 near Hungerford being closed for around 4 hours after a Police Incident. Mind you getting back was even worse the M25 seemed to combine all the features of a swimming pool and car park. I should have known better really, Friday afternoon, road works (they are widening bits of it) and continued rainfall. I try not to spend too much time driving, and especially on the M25 - all you can do is sit there and listen to the radio - but I really would not do it day in day out. I would not be able to live like that - I would change my life to avoid it (and indeed have done in the past!). In case you are wondering this is not the M25 - it is a random road on the outskirts of Bristol with a traffic jam - it is all I had to hand! Although there is concern about Gridlock in Cambridge - taxi drivers are warning of "mayhem" - but repairs have to be made. More reason to encourage people to cycle if you ask me.
Whilst on the way we did see a couple of Chinook helicopters, also out for a drive - they were being transported on the back of flat-bed lorries - they looked as if they were being built up - they looked smaller than I would have expected. They are around 30m in length apparently. I wonder if these were two of the 8 HC3s that have yet to enter operational service? Although we do see them flying around in the Greater Flatlands (Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk) I have not actually been quick enough to take a picture of one - so no picture sorry. I could have stuck in an ordinary helicopter - but that would have been weird. I did once have an Apache helicopter appear the other side of a hedge, pointing at me weapons primed when I was out cycling - pretty fearsome they look too- and again I was not quick enough with my camera. (I made up the bit about weapons primed - there is not much call to blast cyclists of the country roads of East Anglia - well not by helicopter pilots anyway.)
With the recent Police success in catching bike thieves one such Thief has been jailed to 12 months and another has been sent to the Cambridge Crown Court for sentencing as it was felt to be too serious for the Magistrates. This is where my bike was stolen a few years ago - Cambridge Railway Station cycle park.
I did a bit of musing about things whilst stuck in traffic yesterday - it is easy to lose your sense of humour when stuck in a car. I was amused, although the Journalist was clearly not amused, by the cyclist carrying a passenger on his handlebars in the Cambs Times. I used to think that GOM stood for Grumpy old Man, which sometimes afflicts me, I now think it must be Grumpy Old Motorist. Have they lost their sense of romance?
It seems like only yesterday that I was mentioning Bike Rage and an then incident gets reported - "Cyclist scrapes car in clash at narrow roadworks stretch". Knowing the area one wonders exactly what happened, I would not defend such behaviour, but cars can be pretty damn intimidating, not to mention dangerous to life and limb. I once had an old boy brush my off-side pannier as he went past me - he got a very frightened and loud shout - it is bl**dy scary to feel you bike start to accelerate unexpectedly. What is worse he really hadn't a clue that his bumper was connecting with my bike. Of course when accidents do happen it is generally the cyclist who is hurt in the smash as in this coming together of a cyclist and car. Winning the lottery - just wondering, if I mention that will I win - although I don't do it and don't get me started on the weird way of getting poor people to pay for opera. (perhaps I am a GOM).
On a slightly worrying note, well I would be if I lived in the Luton and Dunstable area "Bridge removed for Luton Dunstable project". I wonder if their guided busway will take as long as ours (CGB) has? As a reminder this picture of ours was taken in April 2010. What is missing - er well the buses and the passengers but apart from that it looks wonderful.
And finally "'Smelly' cyclists asked to leave New Forest pub". Do cyclists smell - well yes sometimes. In the interests of saving
the planet time I re-use cycle clothes a few times before washing them and if I were honest (and even if if I wasn't) they can smell a bit after a while. However here in the flatlands I have yet to be kicked out of a pub for smelling - although for choice I prefer to sit in the sun in the garden - but this is England - there is not always sun. So two a few pubs that I can recommend that don't kick out cyclists - The Dyke's End, Reach and The Red Lion Swaffham Prior. and the Ancient Shepherds in Fen Ditton and the Six Bells in Fulbourn. I could go on but you get the picture.