Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Look up you **** !

 What is it with people today, not paying attention to where they are going, and when they finally realised that they are on a collision course with you, they just stare blankly at you, wondering what the **** you are doing there. How dare you be in THEIR way.

This isn't a new thing, and it certainly isn't limited to any particular demographic. In fact, it seems almost part of evolution. Years back a joke illustration was made of the evolution of the human race, showing it going from hunched, to stooped, to walking upright. With a new addition at the end of the human starting to stoop again to naturally be in a "staring at phone screen" position,

But here's the thing, it's not even just phone zombies now, nor the latest addition, hoodie wearing cybermen, as predicted by Doctor Who decades ago. Wherever you go, you are sure to find one of the varieties of the human race who are incapable of looking where they are going.

Coffee drinks away with the fairies, phone zombies fixated on their screens, school mums too busy chatting to acknowledge anyone else around them, regardless of the danger they pose. Headphone wearing day dreamers, or just plain ignorant ****s. There are many more, as well as combinations of the able, but lets keep this basic shall we. 

Every time I leave the house, for a walk, a dog walk, a run, a ride, or to drive somewhere I am guaranteed to encounter a number of them. Running along, balancing along the kerb so I don't have to run into traffic, but hey, you do you, why should you budge over just a tiny bit, how dare someone else need to use the pavement. 

Walking the dog, the phone zombies staggering down the road, I try to keep property side of the pavement, dog on my left to use myself as a barrier between the person and the dog. Here they come, swerving down the road like a drunk at 2am after kicking out time. Suddenly they reach me, looking up in shock and disgust. Confronted by a furry face who is now interested why they are so close to their human. But hey, my bad !!

It just goes on and on, scooter riders, as well as bike riders, just popping out of nowhere, then suddenly joining the road right in front of the car, but again, shocker, they are surprised there is a car on the road, imagine that.

The point I am getting to here is a simple one. Spacial awareness, it is something built into us as part of self preservation. Awareness of danger around us, avoiding coming into physical conflict with anything which poses a threat to our well-being. But alas, it's slowly being evolved out of us, and replaced by entitlement. 

The dirty looks you get from someone who just put themselves in mortal danger is a thing! Rather than shock, relief and maybe an apology, you now get confusion, aggression and an entitled rant. "You should have been looking out for me".... NO! YOU should look where you are going and be more aware of your surroundings. 

Phone snatchers thrive on this new mentality, do as you please without recourse.  Walk down the road in your own little world, completely unaware that there is an e-bike heading towards you with a rider in a balaclava, woosh, suddenly there is no more distraction, and your phone is gone, probably with all your credit cards etc too. If only you were move considerate and aware of what was happening around you. Rather than rudely barrelling through the streets expecting the world to part like the Red Sea.

Then we have pedestrians and cyclists who end up being hit by bicycles, mopeds, scooters and cars. Everyone else is to blame, it is never the person involved. The ability to take responsibility for our actions and occasional mistakes is gone. Replaced by... yup you guessed it, entitlement. Some scenarios and how they play out.

Pedestrian bumps into phone zombie... pedestrians fault.
Phone zombie walks into road and is hit by cyclist... cyclists fault.
Cyclist jumps red light and hits a car... cars fault.

The list goes on an on, but somehow, every time, the entitled arsehole somehow manages to blame the other party. 

And then you have cyclist mentality, which is a whole thing of its own. I recently saw an old clip on X which was of a cyclist running a red light and close passing a woman with a buggy. Alarmingly quite a few people went either with "didn't hit her, whats the problem" or, "shes was in the wrong for stopping when she saw him, she could have caused an accident". Unreal! Don't defend the indefensible, don't make yourself look stupid, and take some damn responsibility for your actions. 

If things carry on the way they are going, the world is doomed, and the human race, especially the western world, is done for. Sod climate change, attitude change is the thing that is most damaging to the existence of humans on this planet. And what makes it even worse, is the infrastructure and laws of the land are changing to support these arrogant entitled attitudes. 

That's better, now I don't have to think about writing this blog every time I go out and encounter these arseholes.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Wiped out!

 Phew, what a roller-coaster the past dozen or so days have been. Dieting, exercising, counting calories, and trying to find a balance that fits me. Making sure I am getting enough food in to power the furnace, and making sure I don't over do the exercise and out the fire out. 

Yesterday was a busy old day, but before I get onto that, let me mention my highlights so far. 
Increased exercise load, or back to my old normal should I say (with exception to yesterday, but we will come to that)
Reduced food intake, more specifically reduced calorie intake. Ending most days with a 1500+ calorie deficit.

The result of which is a loss from between 14 and 19lbs, depending which starting weight you use. I will be conservative and call it 14lbs. But that is in 10 days, so I am not complaining at that. As usual all weigh-ins are dry. Post activity, post pee etc. Dropping from low 240s to high 220s in that time makes me happy.

I am of course mindful of a couple of things. Early days in weight loss are always productive, seeing a big drop off, then it tapers, but I am OK with that. Even OK with a couple of fluctuations along the way. I am not expecting the same from next week, and would guess at 224 by the end of next week, 222 would be amazing. 
I am also well aware that I carry a lot of muscle mass too, so getting anywhere near what some of the guides recommend. For example, after a weightloss program I did before, I was down to 196lbs. I was asked if I was seriously ill, and told I looked unwell.

So when you see the chart below, it is a bit of a concern. The 132-167 is normal range. 174-202 is overweight, then the next 2 are obese and severely obese. OK 278+ is a bit of a reach even for me, but if I was 174 I would have lost a lot of muscle mass and be wasting away, and somehow still be overweight. Another great reason to ignore science at times.

5 ft 10 in
(70 in)
132–167 lb174–202 lb209–271 lb278–376 lb

Next up is blood pressure, when it was tested at a job assessment recently it was quite high. Obviously stress of the situation wasn't helping, but on checking when I got home, it was indeed high. In 2 months I have brought that down to a much better place, and can feel the difference.

Also resting heart rate is a good measure for me, as the weight has gone on, the resting HR has risen. For my weekly average to be 45 or more is a sign I am not doing great, and that is roughly where it has been of late. However the last few weeks have seen that decrease too, and I am back around 40-41bpm average now. Again my body feels in rhythm and unstressed like this. 

However that brings me on to yesterday and today. Deciding to push myself a bit yesterday, I was off, the weather was nice and all that. I first did a 4.5 mile dog walk, then came home and went to the park to do 3 miles of running, including a 10 min benchmark run at high intensity. Then I came home, had a bowl od porridge, and went out for a 30 mile bike ride. The calorie deficit for yesterday was 3,300 by the end of the day, so massive!

I went to bed knowing sleep would not be great, and I was right. Lately my sleep score has been high 80s, last night, just 57. My resting HR was also up to 43, and I woke feeling lethargic. As expected really then. 

So today I need to take things a bit easier, nothing big planned, just a walk in a little while, then maybe a turbo session this afternoon just to loosen things up and keep things moving. Amazingly from all that, I have no aches and pains that I didn't before the day started, so that is nice.

Now if I can just wake up a bit, I can go for a little walk, stretch the legs, relax the mind, and get some fresh air. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

A night shift with the Met

So last night....
I went for a ride along with a response unit from Lewisham Police to get a look behind the curtains of what the job takes.
Shakey start with the front desk not knowing about the arrangement but after one of the sergeants running about a bit I was assigned to 2 officers for the night.
Quiet start to the shift, leaving the station just before 11pm. A bit of a look around the patch, nothing much happening.
Just before 1am we got our first chance to run on blues to reports of a fight. After a 5 mile blue light run, with some absolute terrible driving by members of the public, we arrived with other units, to find it had been stood down as a play fight.

Shortly after assigned to another call, not i-grade. Encountered some more interesting driving along the way, with words of wisdom offered to them for their poor driving.

Just before 2am the officers suggested food at 2.30..
Obviously at 2.20 a car came onto our radar, and after a couple of short bursts of speed, and what seemed it was going to be a fail to stop, a car was stopped. Extra units called for, good quick show of numbers, resulting to one being taken into custody.

To complete the experience I was then permitted to go to custody to see how the processing of someone who has been arrested works. Having seen it all on TV, I was shocked to see just how much longer the process is. Not in a bad way, but it's really not like you see it on TV. Very thorough indeed.

Even seeing the evidential breathalyser machine being used is nowhere near as swift as they show on TV. Just the process of leading up to taking a sample takes a while.

Once the person was safely in a cell, it was time for the paperwork. That is where the real surprises came in. A large pool of hot desks for officers to do their "paperwork" at. A very detailed and long winded system to get everything on record in body cam footage.

Obviously I realise this is VERY important and needs to be done properly, but seeing so many officers at desks having to get all the paperwork done before returning to the streets really highlights how much time is spent on this process. To add insult to injury, after almost 2 hours of doing the report, inc time taken to grab some food, the system decided to crash and the whole report was lost.

As he started it all again, the sergeant came over and suggested it might be a good time to call it a night. I would be lying if I said I wasn't relieved.

It was a real eye opener, and something I would love to do again one day. I would genuinely recommend it to anyone, especially those who have questions about policing and how it works.

Huge thanks to the officers I spent the shift with for answering all my questions and giving me a genuine view of how the streets are policed. And the challenges the police face. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

How are you?

Thought it was about time I posted something on this blog. It's been forever.
So I thought I would as, "how are you?" 
In our busy lives we only manage to touch base a with a small handful of people day to day. Now matter how hard we try, we never manage to speak with everyone we care about, and I don't know about you, but it makes me feel bad at times.

Sometimes by the time you realise someone you care about is struggling or needs that chat, it can be too late, and they can already be fighting to keep their head above the water. 

I have done a post like this in the past I know, but as the darker evenings and shorter days draw in, I wanted to repeat myself and reiterate my message. I'm here and happy to chat. Of course that comes with caveats, and hopefully anyone who knows me well enough to want to talk to me and open up, knows what they are too.

Recently I have been reminded that so many people live their lives with the appearance of a duck on water.... Above the surface, the public persona, all is beautiful and well. While under the surface they are struggling to stay afloat. Dealing with all sorts of dramas and dilemmas, but because no-one can see the struggle, there is no lifeline, no help, no conversation. And for the sake of saving face, even when the question is asked "are you OK", the stiff upper lip appears and you lie through your teeth. 

So.... How are you? 
If you are not great, let's talk. If you are great, that's great, I still care. 

If you know me, please never feel uncomfortable speaking openly. The worst that can happen is I write a blog about it and publish it to the world lol. 

Thursday, August 31, 2023

A day in the health care system.

Didn't see this coming, and to be honest had never known what they do in here until today.
I have felt occasionally and rapidly short of breath for the past few weeks now. Since getting back from Florida I have felt lethargic and every now and then just can't breath. Like there is pressure on my neck and chest. Inhalers don't work. 
It can last from a few seconds to a few mins at a time, yet I am pretty much able to train as normal. Unless of course a wave hits me in the moment. 

I called my GP this morning to see if I could get an appointment, got through just after 8am.
Received the triage texts shortly after that. 
Around 10am I got a call from the surgery saying the GP would call between 11 and 12.
About 15 mins later I got a text from the GP saying she wanted to see me in the next 90 mins of possible. 

I 'hurried' to the surgery and saw the doctor after a short wait. Thankfully it was a GP I have a history with, so she listened while I explained. The confusion grew as I described what was happening with me. After a few checks and asking me if I thought there was anything it might be, she said she wanted to get something checked. 

It seemed like because I had flown recently, and because I had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid, she wanted to be sure it was not DVT or PE. She then made a call to Lewisham Hospital to get some advice, and after five mins of chatting, came off the phone and asked me to go straight to Ambulatory Care at Lewisham Hospital. They would run some tests to rule out Pulmonary Embolism as a diagnosis. 

So here I sit now. 
Having only ever seen signs for it before, and having no idea what it was, I have since found out that it is an all in one department that runs a barrage of tests, gets all the results back in the same day. Rapid diagnosis you might call it. 

So far within 30 mins of getting here I have had AN ECG, blood pressure test, temp, SATS, and finally bloods. The bloods have been sent off and as I write this, I am waiting on the results. Just to be clear, I'm in no rush to get them, I am massively thankful for their care here today.

The wait time is approx two hours so I am told, which is fine with me. 

In the meantime a barrage of messages have been sent by me to loved ones and work, making sure everyone is in the loop. 

First world problems time.. 
My phone battery is at 29%, not helped by me writing this..
I'm a little hungry now and that leads to a bit of a nauseating feeling.
And I would love a drink right now. 
All that said, all is well, I feel OK other than a shortage of breath occasionally.

Oh and I read my GP notes, and saw "Dyspnoea" definition.. " awareness of the sensation of shortness of breath. It may be pathological, psychological or social in origin."

I shall add to this post as and when I get my results. I am expecting to be told I am good to go. But if that is NOT the case, the next step is xray and scans.

Oh and side note, when taking my SATS the nurse kept asking me to breathe deep..... Deeper..... DEEPER.. before saying "that's fine." So I am going to assume they were low lol

In the end the bloods took about three and a half hours to come back. In which time I was moved to a comfier seat in a booth, which was a nice touch. 
In the meantime a consultant came to see me to get some back story and try and work out what was going on. We chatted for about 10 mins, talking health history, recent travel, changes in health recently etc. 

The outcome " quite unremarkable". Said with a smile, and reassuring tone, he said with all the info he already had, he was quite sure that there was nothing drastic going on, but obviously something was happening or I would not be there. 

All my bloods were back with exception to the one he wanted, the D-dimer for micro clots or PE. In the meantime, to cover all bases he sent me for an x-ray. With a parting explanation that the xray would just confirm whatever the bloods were saying. 
There would be two outcomes. 
1/ D-dimer registered something, in which case start treatment. 
2/ D-dimer clear, so would want to run a 24hr at home ECG, to check for arrhythmia which MIGHT... at a stretch cause short spells of breathlessness. Unlikely but only right to rule out. 

10 mins later, x-ray done, results came back, all clear. D-dimer came back registering absolutely nothing, so all clear for PE. Big stuff out of the way, that was a relief. 

So next I will be contacted by cardiology for an appointment to go and get the ECG fitted, then removed the next day. And in the meantime, I am to follow up with my GP for further investigations and explore other routes to treat. 

The breathlessness continues as sporadically as it always has. I have returned to using my new inhaler, and am pleased to report I slept a little better last night. 

So watch this space, who knows what it is, but the thing I do know for sure is it's frickin annoying. 

Thanks for reading and thanks everyone for their concerns.... Mainly about who gets my bikes, but.. 😂

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

What a load of Greenwash bollox

Usually greenwashing is when something bad for the environment is painted as being friendly. This time we have something which was never good for the environment, was badly planned, or carefully planned depending on your view on it, to ultimately raise revenue, but being touted as a great clean solution for all. Rather than the shambolic load of shit it actually is. 

Not content with the ULEZ extension, now this little gem.
The Silvertown Tunnel touted as a solution for all, which was designed and built with no pedestrian or cycle passage available is now having a consultation on a dedicated bicycle service through the tunnel.
Some of the quotes from the piece are cringe worthy.

"These cross-river cycling proposals are a key part of our commitment to ensuring that the Silvertown Tunnel supports growth in cross-river cycling use."
A key part would have been considered at the planning stage, not when it's 3/4 built.

"TfL said the bike bus was under consideration because it would be “unsafe” to allow cyclists to ride through the £2bn tunnel"

Years in planning, £2bn, but no provision for "free passage".
A brand new tunnel is "unsafe" for pedestrians and cycles, yet the Rotherhithe Tunnel is for all to use, with only the tiniest of kerbs separating the road from the "pavement" Cars passing within inches of pedestrians.

"Will Norman, the mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “These plans will mean that cyclists will benefit from easier travel between the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, enabling more people to make the switch to active travel and helping to build a better, greener London.”

Sure thing Will. Using a bus to carry bikes through a brand new tunnel, waiting 10 mins between buses for a ride that would take a couple of minutes. That's a real benefit.

"The consultation will also help to determine whether the service should be free.

A TfL spokesman said no decision had yet been taken on whether to charge cyclists to use the bike bus. “That forms part of the consultation to help understand whether a charge would impact customers’ decision to use the service or not,” he said."

Aaah now we have it... So, design a tunnel for toll use, then make sure EVERYONE who uses it can be charged. Too dangerous for Pedestrians and cyclists just screams piss poor designing and initial consultation.
Declare it unsafe for such use, even though the tiny Rotherhithe Tunnel is "safe", then provide a bus "service" which may or may NOT be free, probably the latter. So now anyone using the crossing will be charged in one way or another. Smart!

All quotes are taken from this article.

Monday, April 3, 2023

The problem with cyclists is...

..... the same thing that is wrong with motorists, pedestrians, and all other people regardless of their mode of transport. They are human beings!

Sure there are cases of right and wrong, and many variables which all contribute towards the outside perception of whatever group you belong to, but the biggest issue is people and their sense of entitlement. Not to mention those who wear rose tinted glasses for their cause and refuse to see things any other way. 

Cars and motorists. The enemy of all except for themselves. Doers of most harm, the biggest threat to cyclists and pedestrians alike. When the driver of a car has a moment of entitlement, the result can be catastrophic. Of course there is the question of if an act was malicious or ignorant. Trying to cause harm, or just poor judgement or a lapse of concentration. (not always mobile phone related)
On the flip side it could be argued that they are also the group held most accountable. Vehicles require legal checks, drivers "should" be insured. Cameras to catch any wrong doing, and a whole road traffic act to abide by. That is not to say that any or all the above are any kind of certainty. 
The stats prove that motorists are indeed a mixed bag, with tens of thousands of convictions annually for speeding, red light jumping, and other seriously entitled and dangerous behaviours. The consequences of which can be catastrophic and tragic. 

Then there are cyclists. The majority being well meaning people, using bicycles to commute, stay fit or just simply have some time to themselves. Many are considerate of others, be they cyclists, pedestrians or even motorists. Maintaining their bikes, riding with caution, and following the rules of the road. 
Then of course there are those who don't. A minority I would say. Red lights mean nothing, pedestrians can get out of their damn way. Just like the motorists, no consideration for those around them, not even their own tribe.

This is where things seem to differ though. All sorts of reasons and justifications can be given as to why the one way street doesn't apply, the red light was dangerous to stop at, or the pedestrians should wait for them to pass through crossings, even though the highway code demands they stop. 
Sadly there are some who feel cyclists simply cannot be in the wrong. Jump a light and hit a car, car should have been looking out for them. Distracted on their phone for the next delivery, hit a pedestrian, just trying to make a living 

To me, these people are as bad as those who complain about cyclists not paying "road tax", or that assume all cyclists are the same as the one that cut them off in traffic, then called them a wanker. 

Both groups have many members, the majority by far who do everything right, by the rule, and try to be considerate of everyone around them, but sadly there are a few who don't, and they are the ones always used as the examples for opposing groups. 

Of course there are pedestrians who are a whole different kettle of fish. The different groups all have their quirks. School kids too busy messing about to look before crossing. Commuters, faces in their phones, bumping into each other, pavement furniture, and walking into the road without looking. Tourists, most of us have been one. Confused about which way to look before stepping out, or simply being unaware they are walking in a bike lane. 

The common factors are as I said. We are all humans, we all have our own believes and occasionally exercise a sense of entitlement, or a false sense of safely. However the consequences can be very different. 
But let's not kid ourselves. If all 100kg of me runs into a pensioner or small child while out for a run, I can cause serious harm to them as they slam into the ground. 
If a pedestrian walks into a cycle lane or the road while I am hurtling along at 18-20mph, I am likely to do even more harm. It's simple physics. Just as a car can cause harm when striking a pedestrian, a bike or pedestrian can cause harm to each other in a collision too. 
What usually comes up here is "but cars kill people"... Well statistically so do cyclists and so do human beings. The liklihood is far higher for a car (sorry that should be car DRIVER) vs other, and a driver is unlikely to be injured if a cyclist or pedestrian collide with their vehicle. The statistics of course support the fact that the car /other vehicles/ motorist will be most likely to case harm or death. But that isn't an excuse to run or ride around like an entitled idiot.

To simply claim that bikes DO NOT cause harm or pose a risk to anyone is ignorant. But for some it is the belief they hold, and regardless of what happens the cyclist will NEVER be in the wrong. Should you try to make the case that they were, you are an entitled motorist. If you are a cyclist and call a cyclist out, either you should not be riding a bike, or you are NOT a cyclist but merely someone who uses a bicycle. Yet somehow this separation is never suggested with motorists. They are just all the same.

One thing that has recently caught my attention is the argument of how cargo bikes can replace lots of van journeys. In general I agree, there is certainly a place for it, and we are seeing more and more cargo bikes out there. 
But I have questions. 
Now that the cargo bike is articulated, 25ft long and 250kg (quarter of a ton) can we agree they are likely to cause significant harm in a collision? 
As the definition of a cargo bike now includes e-bike 4 wheeled mini van style vehicles, should they be using the cycleways, shared pedestrian and cycle spaces etc? 
As much as I love the idea that we can cut vehicle use and make the air cleaner for all, and the roads safer, I also appreciate that we live in the UK and the weather is unpredictable at best and abysmal at worst. So it is not always practical to use cargo bikes etc. There are certainly certain situations were the owner of property would not want their items carried by bike. 

If we do reach this utopian ideal that 70% of last mile deliveries are done by cargo bikes, 4 wheel e-bike vans, articulated cargo bikes etc.... What do the roads then look like? Would such users be happy to have some form of ID on their vehicle to allow for accountability? 

I'm all for the transport revolution, but I am also very aware of the realities of human behaviour too. 

If people from ALL groups could just take a moment to recognise that there are those among you who do a disservice to your cause, and are the precise reason you hopes and dreams cannot become reality, then maybe one day there is hope. 

In the meantime, we continue to act with entitlement and ignorance, dismiss that there are issues to be over come, and most of all, blame someone else for the problems, rather than taking a look closer to home and calling people put for their poor behaviour. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

I need to write more!

 Just putting this out there, that I really need to write more on my blogs. Since splitting them into me in general, and my mental health one, I have stopped writing as much, and that needs to change. 

The less I write, the more thoughts that continue to swirl round and round in my head. Anything from petty queries, to full blown issues that bother me. Writing is my vent, my way of getting it moved from the holding and dwelling area of my brain, to the practical part where I can actually process things, and move on from them.

Expect to see a lot of weird and random rambling posts coming soon for sure. I have a lot of crap to get out of my head. Between here and I hope to get a lot of writing done soon. 

So there it is, my promise to myself, and threat / promise to anyone unfortunate enough to read it all. 

The Older Generation

 It's a phrase I have used many times over the years. Sometimes to show some respect and understanding of how things have changed over time, and other times to acknowledge my status in the pecking order of life. 

While I was laying in bed last night, mulling over ideas for blogs, processing the day, and coming to terms with the celebration (of which there will not be one) of my impending milestone of half a century on this planet, it dawned on me... 

I AM the older generation! With all older generational members of my family now passed away, me and my sister are now "the elders". God help the younger ones with us to look up to for advice and wisdom.
The same can probably be said for quite a few of my friends also. Although with some of them at least, the younger ones have a better example to look up to. 

I am of course in the process now of researching what my duties are as "the older generation", and how it will impact my cool rating. Do I need to change the language I use, should my wardrobe be updated for this position of responsibility and power, and more importantly, do I need to grow up now? I bloody hope not!

There was never a pass of the baton from mum, and I am yet to discover an "elders handbook" for reference, so right now I am clutching at straws. All I can say is I will give it my best shot, and try not to be regarded in the same light my generation saw the "older generation" in growing up.

OMG I'M OLD !!!👴

Saturday, December 31, 2022

My 2022....

 Well, it's that time of year again when everyone goes mad looking back over the past 12 months. Vowing to change things in 2023, healthier, happier, richer and all the usual bullshit. Scouring the internet for gym memberships, diet plans, as well as New Years Sales bargains. Bombarded by all the social media platforms, encouraging us to share our best moments of the year, and give us one last chance to outshine someone else.  I talk about it like its a negative and something I don't subscribe to, but I would be a liar if I said I didn't have a streak of egomaniac running through me, or didn't spend most of my year making everything look like it was amazing and perfect. 

That said, anyone who reads my blogs will also know that it is not all a bed of roses. On my other blog, I have shared some reall highs and lows from this year. Logging into this blog, I can see the last time I wrote anything was a few days before I went off to France for a bike ride with friends, but I will come back to that. So immediately I am drawn to the idea of making more of an effort next year to write more general entries like this one. That of course depends on how things go on the mental side of things.

The year started off "badly", by deciding it was my year to start doing regular Park Runs, to get more involved, social, and active. New Years Day, I did the Dulwich Park run, the next week Crystal Palace, and the week after back to Dulwich, where I caught Covid-19. Two years avoiding it, and thanks to a dirty spitter on the run, caught it trying to stay healthy. The irony!
Over the next two weeks I learned about using services like Woosh to get shopping delivered as Ann caught Covid from me, so we both had to isolate. Keeping active during the isolation was important to me, so lots of Zwift runs and rides. 

As the days passed, the tests kept coming up positive, heading towards Feb, still testing positive. With our return trip to Svalbard being just a couple of weeks away, it became a bit of a worry if we would test clear in time. Thankfully we did, and off we went for another epic adventure to the most beautiful place on earth. It's a bit of a journey to get there, and with a layover in Oslo, we arrived in Longyearbyen the next day. NO snow mobiles this time for us, just a lovely adventure. I am sure meeting Grim followed by Cecilia would be Anns highlight, next up would be her proposal to me I reckon. 

A magicial time was had, and after meeting Grim, Christoffer and Cecilia, exploring the wilderness, and taking 2 million photos we came back to the UK. Oh, I turned 49 there too.

By March my fitness was in full swing, returning to longer runs, getting in loads of rides, especially before work thanks to the continuation of WFH. Sadly however the being active would come to an abrupt halt with me tearing my calf during a 10 mile run. Resorting to getting the train home was devastating, but the right thing to do. Thankfully I had spent the last year and a half carrying a mask and contactless card with me "just in case". The next month consisted of cycling mainly, as each time I tried to run, the calf would give out again. 

After a month of mainly cycling, and having not really run for about six weeks, suddenly it was time for the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which I had agreed to run with Amy months before, so off to Central London we went. A great atmosphere for sure, and I was sure I was well rested and repaired. Mile two of 13, TWANG, my calf went. Of course I finished the run, but with a crap time and very uncomfortable. Time to rest again, as in a couple of months I had a big trip to do on the bike.

Later in April, now planning for July, I decided I needed a new bike, so got the new one ordered, and sold the old one shortly after it arrived. I spent the next few weeks getting aquainted with the new bike, and got a lot of miles in on both bikes. As the weather warmed up, so the rides got longer and longer.

All the while, behind the scenes the discussion of returning to the office was becoming more and more of a thing. With a new manager at work, and not being sure what his take on WFH was, tensions were growing. For over two years now we had worked fine from home, but as time ticked by, it started to sound more and more likely that they would ask us to return to the office. With the company releasing guidance on hybrid working, we had gone from positive, to uncertain in a short space of time. However, no news was good news, so we plodded on.

In May, about a month after my last big run, it was the Vitality London 10k. A year ago, the idea of a 10k was cute. Cheeky one hour run taking in some sights. However with my calf still refusing to behave this was going to be a struggle, and it was. My calf pulled, the run was pretty miserable, but I got to the end and got a medal. Positives, right!

The end of May arrived, and it was now time for Ride London 100, using the new Essex route. Weather was looking good, I had been riding plenty on the run up to it, and the calf was behaving on the bike, so finally an event I could sink my teeth into, and that I did. Lapping up the miles, grinning from ear to ear, and sprinting for the finish. Not to mention riding home after the event. Finally things were looking good.

Now into June and it was time to head North to Sunderland to see Ed Sheeran at the Stadium of Light. Thanks to a wonderful couple I had met 17 years ago in Tunisia, then not seen since, but stayed in touch on Facebook, we were put up for the duration of our stay, and introduced to one of the most perfect children I have ever met. River, what a lovely little guy. Scott and Julie were the perfect hosts, and for the next few days we explored the North East, with me managing a 10 mile run (I think) and a lovely ride from South Shields to Newcastle Upon Tyne. What a stunning place. 
The concert itself was amazing, other than having a rather large lady next to me practically sitting on my lap for the entire concert.

Back home, it was time for the final preparation from "the trip". Me, Jason and Scott going to France. But wait, life has a surprise for you Michael.
Work have made their decision on the future of Work From Home, and ... It's NOT for you! Nope, my group had for some reason been chosen to return to the office, we would be given 30 days notice when they were ready. My mind popped, I lost it, and my anxiety went through the roof. I won't go into detail here, as there are lots of entries about this on my other blog, but it threw a spanner in the works for sure. An appeal from group AND personal level were launched immediately. 

The very end of June me and Ann headed to Wembley Arena for another chance to see Ed Sheeran, this time with no one sitting on my lap, something that completely changed the experience. A fantastic show, a great distraction, and great to have a moment of feeling normal while surrounded by thousands of people. Something that would usually have me in a state. 

Mid July we packed ourselves and our bikes into the Yeti, and headed off for the French Alps. For some reason I had thought it might be a fun idea to ride up Alpe D'Huez. Not only that, but between us we had decided that a 30 mile trip there, then a 30 mile trip back to Grenoble on the bikes would be a good warm up and cool down. As it turns out, warming up wasn't a problem. In the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures hitting 40c, warming up was not hard, cooling down however....

Arriving to 35c in the afternoon sun the day before the big ride, it was glorious yet overwhelming. With the recent news from work still weighing heavily on me, the heat and over thinking resulted in about 2 hours sleep. This was after a 28 hour trip from London to the Alps, where I managed 0 hours of sleep. Deciding for the earliest start possible, we got up way before sunrise and it was beautiful but already 27c. I will do another blog all about it soon. By the time we reached the town of Huez, it was in the low 30's and around 10am. A few hours later we made it to the top, and I can honestly say standing there with two amazing friends, in glorious sunshine, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, was one of the best moments of my life, and I can't think of two better people to share the moment with .

In August the amazing weather was still with us, and many more adventures were had. Spending time at the weekends with Ann, getting to places like Victoria Park to enjoy the sunshine and food market. Lots of little trips exploring new places, braving public transport, and making the most of the weather, and time together. Of course I still did a lot of solo riding in this time too, but not so much in the way of running. BBQ and water butts also became a thing, with the hosepipe ban, and continued sunny weather. Crystal Palace Lake dried up, people begun to act like the world was about to end. Then it rained, and the world calmed down again.

In the meantime, with still no word from work as to what was happening, and my stress levels rising, I decided I would speak to work about it, and tell them how bad it was getting for me. Speaking to my manager and HR I was asked to see Occupational Health, which I did a couple of weeks later. Things were well there, and I hoped that the report would come soon, and everything could be sorted out at work swiftly. I was wrong. 

At the end of August we travelled to North Wales for the first time this year, long over due, but much needed trip, we tried an Air BnB for the first time, and it was delightful. Arriving the day before the Rhyl Airshow, which we didn't even know was happening. Heading off to Sports Direct to get a baseball cap to stop my rapidly balding head from burning. We spent the afternoon on the prom watching a fantastic air show. The following day I went for a long ride in the morning and arrived home just as the second day of the air show started. Only to spot a Red Arrow limping back to the airfield with its smoke on. A bird strike had shattered the canopy! Wow!

September and it was time to try running again, this time the Big Half in London. Choosing to "Jeff" for the first time while running the run with Nikki. I can honestly say it was the worst Half Marathon of my life, and Jeff is NOT my friend. Never again. However on a positive note, the trips to London for the runs were good practise for me getting on public transport. I had changed my mind many times about doing this run, but in the end thought what the hell, and did it. 

A week later and something happened that the world would ripple from. Queen Elizabeth II passed away, marking a truly historic moment for all to remember. The country, and in fact world responded with the greatest of humility, and the show of emotion by millions was truly touching. 

A couple of weeks later, and still no word from work about what was happening, and I had reached boiling point. Sleep affected and genrally in a dark place, I spoke with the GP who signed me off immediately for a few weeks. Prescribing medication, and referring me for CBT. I started the CBT a couple of weeks later, and the meds shortly after that.

October, and still off sick, something I was now dreading had arrived. The London Marathon! Unsure if I was fit enough to even run, let alone try and run a distance like that, I decided I would give it a go, and round off one hell of a year with a bang. Given the lack of training and running fitness I was happy to just finish, and finish I did. Walking a huge chunk of it, it was not the way I had imagined doing it, but I finished and could still walk, so that's a win in my books. 

Next up it was time for a trip to Lytham St Annes, for Ann to have a tattoo she had long dreamed of having done. A great drive up there, and checking in to another Air BnB. Dropping Ann to the studio in the morning, I then headed off on the bike for a ride along the coast to Blackpool. Lucky me, a massive headwind the whole way there, which thankfully equated to a tailwind the whole way home again. Another lovely ride and another streak on my Strava heatmap. Doing as much as I could to keep my head straight, this trip was another step on the roads to recovery

Mid October I took an adventurous little ride along the A13 to Thurrock to see the protesters high above the QE2 Bridge in Dartford, seeing the chaos 2 people were causing was stunning. Thankfully it didn't affect me being on a bike. Smug moment for sure. 

By the end of Oct, early Nov, heavy rains had arrived, washing away the memories of the drought and heatwave, it was time for Covid boosters, and time to try out Community Fibre. Not to mention a slight reconfiguration of the home office. Having waited long enough to get an answer from work, I had now given up and was doing what was best for me. This continues to be the case now, with all communication with my manager and HR being non existent. Something I aim to address in 2023.

The rest of the year has been a bit of a blur to be honest. Lots going on in the world, weather going crazy, riding as much as I could, and giving up on running for the rest of the year. Spending the rest of the year adjusting to the change in weather on the bike, buying myself clothing etc to get me through the winter on the bike, and completing my CBT sessions, with the 12th being the other week. 

I end this year, and go into 2023 knowing I have resilience, have fought back again my mental health struggles of the year, which I have not experienced for a number of years now, and with a idea in mind how I want to proceed. Happy with my achievements physically, and the place I am in mentally now, I can look forward to the excitement of getting married in 2023, turning 50, and whatever else life wants to throw at me. 
My plan is to relax and enjoy my cycling a bit more, remain goal free with regards to cycling and running for another year. No big challenges, no epics in mind. Just get back to running, improve my fitness and tighten up a bit. While dealing wth things at work with some gusto, and considering if I go and have an ASD assessment done. It is something I have wondered about for a while now, and am pretty sure I want to get it done, as it could just answer a lot of questions for me. 

Right,...... Happy New Year, or should I say, have a great Sunday.