Moments

Moments.
Sweet, precious moments.
When nothing else exists.
No past.
No future.
Only the moment.
The smells drifting across my nose.
The air ebbing and flowing around me.
The roaring exhaust notes.
And the road, curving, twisting, tilting.
At such times, the road is nothing.
And the road is everything.

People sometimes ask why i ride. Or shoot me strange looks as though I might have somehow lost my sanity.
And sometimes I talk to ex riders, who have hung up their gear for the last time, for their own personal reasons, who talk wistfully of past rides.

And this is why I ride. For those sweet, precious moments.

For the exhilaration.
For the way it feeds my soul.
For the purity.

Life is meant to be lived. How do you live yours?

Erosion

Slowly, day by day, mum becomes a bit weaker.

What seems like months ago she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. It was an emotional time, and continues to be. After each batch of chemo, there wasnt the vomitting we expected, nor the hair loss that mum was dreading. Each time the cocktail of drugs seemed to impact her mental abilities and each time she bounced back within a week or so. But each session had worse effects than the previous one.

The chemo is all done with now, its been about three weeks. She hasnt bounced back yet. And the radiotherapy appointment hovers on the horizon. I have to remain hopeful. Amids tears last week, mum expressed her fears about not getting better. The hard truth is that this is a downward slope. I know that is going to be hard.

For all you people who have been through this, or helped relatives through it, I salute you. You deserve the greatest respect.

Its all about the journey, not the destination

It has been a tough couple of months. After loosing my brother to cancer last year, my sister was rushed into hospital and prepped for surgery, the had a kidney en route and wouldnt be 100% sure it was a match until they got it, but chances were good. It turned out to be a better match than I was, prompting me to ask mum and dad if I had a sibling I didnt know about! Three operations later, things were touch and go for a while, things are looking positive.

In between all that, mum had been through a series of tests herself, diagnosed with cancer and started chemo.

My usual trip to my eldest daughters to visit her, my son in law and grand children (otherwise known as “the girls”) takes about three and a half hours of motorway driving. I decided we were going on the bike, and avoiding the boredom of multilane roads. We would take the A and B roads, cutting across country, riding some of the fabled best biking roads, taking a trip of the Humber Bridge and seeing a bit more of the British countryside.

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We delayed departure so I could attend a meeting with mum’s oncology consultant, and as the day got close I kept a watchful eye on the weather. Sunshine and heavy showers were predicted. Weather forecasting must be a difficult job. More akin to an art form than a science. I have become something of an amateur forecaster, forgoing the diving rods, but devouring information from reputable sources.

Thick mist greeted me across the north yorkshire moors, extending as far inland as Pickering. Scattered showers with the occasional bit of blue sky as we hurtled down country lanes across lincolnshire. South of Lincoln, the ominous dakr clouds ahead bore down, creating flash floods and dropping traffic down to less than 30mph.

We stopped often, to stretch, drink tea and rest a little.

More flash floods around Peterborough.

Seven hours after setting off, we arrived. Was it worth it. Hell yes. I slept like the dead and ache all over today. I now have a pinlock visor and a new pair of boots that are actually waterproof on my shopping list. The ride was thoroughly enjoyable and I arrived here with a real sense of achievement.

A day off the bike today. Some quality time with the girls. And I will be taking a similar route home.

Look and see

When you take hold of a pound coin, or any coin, what do you see?

This is speculative question, the object could be anything, anything at all. In some ways, what it is matters least important. What you see, the paths it carries your mind along, is what I want to know.

What do I see?

Forgery. Reading some news article that a dutch forger has perfected the creation of a forged pound coin. Where does that lead to? Devaluation. CSI style investigations? Court cases? And reactive efforts from the Bank of England to deal with the impact on the British currency? How to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. New types of coinage, to combat the possibility of it happening again.

What do I see?

History. From battering in the early history of man, to modern day banking. Royalty. Approval of the crown. When did they first approve the English pound. And decimilization. 1971.

What do I see?

Metal. Shapes. Patterns. Atoms. A forge, making irregular, yet regular coins of old. Gold, silver and other precious metals, mixed in varying degreees with varied success to make hardwearing lasting currency. And atoms, molecules, bound, by forces of nature, cooked, melted, hammered and pressed.

All around us is complexity, complexity of modern products, of civilisation. Each small part a cog in some huge machine of man.

What do you see?

Easy Start

In my late teens and early twenties, i had a variety of different vehicles, cars and motorbikes, all in some state of disrepair, aging, creaking machines, nursed along, sworn at sometimes, relied on to carry me and mine from place to place.

On frosty mornings, or sometimes just plain old regular mornings, if they refused to spring into life, stubbornly draining the battery with each attempt to turn piston, crankshaft, valves to produce self sustaining combustion, then a familiar can would come out of the toolbox. East Start. Sweet smelling, blasted into the air intake, flowing through, mixing with the existing air and petrol, flowing into combustion chambers, prompting the spark from the plugs to explode the high octane mix, to create that rush of metal parts, flowing, turning, rotating in a symphony of internal combustion.

Energy drinks are like that for me now. I ought to stop drinking them, but somehow my own internal biology has become reliant on them to get the cogs of my brain turning.

And the reason for this mechanical analogy today, I have started reading an old, new book….Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Quite profound and insightful.

I would rather be ashes than dust

Jack London said, “I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor; every atom in magnificent glow–rather than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man-woman is to live, not merely exist. I shall use my time.”

The longbow and English supremacy on the battlefields

I recently sat and watched the new “Amazing Spiderman” movie. In my early teens I was an avid reader and collector of the Marvel comics and Spiderman was my all time favourite.

As I watched him swing from his webs, it reminded me a little of Tarzan and it occurred to me that it was a bit of a backward step in evolution. After all, if we descended from apes, then somewhere in our genes is that ability to swing from rope to tree, etc, though we have forgotten how and our modern lives no longer build up the required muscles.

What has this to do with the English Longbow, you may be thinking? Well, it is about building a set of muscles from an early age and maintaining them.

Back in the 12th century, the Welsh developed these Longbows that enabled them to kick English butts in battle. We adopted them as our own and for several centuries, until the invention of cannons, they made us almost unbeatable across Europe.

The longbow was a formidable weapon. It could pierce a knights armour plating from 200 yards. Previously the knights had been almost invincible to arrows, requiring hand to hand combat with other similarly dressed knights, slogging at each other with massive broadswords. And knights were noblemen, in comparative short supply.

There was a catch though. A Longbowman had to begin training at the age of 7 and continued practising, every day, for the rest of the lives. Only in this way, could they build up and maintain the required set of muscles in the arms and shoulders to give them the strength to draw the arrow back. The build of the muscles must have given them a lobsided appearance in normal life. And it wasn’t just brute strength either. To consider themselves a longbowman, they had to let loose 10 arrows per minute. Quite a feat. I would be able to draw the arrow back in the bow once!

The next time you see someone and they appear a little lobsided, consider for a second, that perhaps their distant ancestors defended this little island from the rest of Europe.

 

 

The thing