Friday, December 7, 2018
I have been trying to drip feed the info a bit more this time around, as the first time I was here, I felt I was giving it all away a little too easily
Morning sessions were all positive, great interaction with each of the students doing their differential. However this afternoon, I have just come out of the first session and am genuinely blown away by the approach professionalism and thoroughness of the first student.
Her approach was spot on, as if she has done this 100 times already, however it turns out it is just her first time doing mental health this week. Calm, interactive, patient led and compassionate. You can't teach that sort of persona.
This is not to detract from the other brilliant students I have interacted with already today. Each one of them is fantastic in their own right. Simply for being in the line of education they are in, they get my full respect. Not to mention how each one has been brilliant in diagnosis and patient interaction
But sometimes one person really stands out, and this was the one this time around.
Just come out of the second session, and again, amazing! Empathy in gallons, understanding, and all the right questions and replies.
Going back to me for a bit. This morning was a little draining. Feeling situational anxiety I think would be the right way to put it. As expected, the slight drain on my energy levels of late has had an impact However it has also taught me something about myself too.
Situational anxiety, is not the same as general clinical anxiety. They may present the same, but bounce back from situational is instant, where as being clinically anxious and going through a full on episode is completely different thank heavens! I can understand more now when people say they feel anxious for a moment, and can better relate to what they mean by it. I have felt it many times before but this is an eye opener for me, and I can now feel the difference.
Similar with depression really, although my feelings of genuine depression are a whole lot lower than when I feel, what I call "down". But I can understand when people call it being depressed about something all the same.
I do love a situation where everyone is coming away with new knowledge, and today is certainly one of those times. Last time I said I thought I felt anxious about talking about anxiety, and presenting with the symptoms again. I can confirm this is the case again. Reliving the visits to the doctors really does bring things to the front of your mind and can start to feel really real. However I won't stress as I know how it passed last time, and will again this time.
Monday, December 3, 2018
The first session I did was a real eye opener, and while it was fun, it was quite draining too. That was starting from a nice high spot in my mental cycle. This time around I am somewhat lower than I was before, so it will be interesting to see what impact that has. Whatever the cost to me, the important thing is being able to help the students understand the presentation of anxiety and depression.
On the plus side, the whole day is a known thing now, it is not full of surprises and uncertainty, so that will help enormously I am sure. I will just get there nice and early again, missing the majority of the morning rush, and have a little wind down walk before getting started.
I will have to put some thought into the scenario for this time too. I am quite happy with the original, but it is good to mix things up a bit. As much for my sanity as theirs. Really is quite draining mentally, recalling events from your life, and playing them out in a scenario over and over for a day. By the end of the day you are mentally exhausted. I kind of envy the actors who also participate in these events. Surely it is much easier to pretend to suffer with something you don't already struggle with. Maybe I am wrong, who knows.
Either way, as I say, the main thing is the students come away from it all with a better understanding. I really do want to have more time to answer questions, and help in any way I can. With so much work being done to raise awareness of mental health issues, it is only right to make sure it can be identified and caught nice and early, so help can be given before the issue worsens for the patient.
Which reminds me actually, I have got to read back through my emails, and do a submission to the BMJ as suggested by Niki. It may come to nothing, it may be the beginnings of being able to do something more positive, time will tell. Not like I don't like writing now is it!
Right, better get my head in gear and thinking cap on, ready for the (next) big day.
Thanks for reading.
PS, students, you can now find all my MH writings on my new website www.snazy.co.uk (if you are not already reading this entry there)
So at least if nothing else, I don't feel surprised or alone as I pace in circles at the entrance to the rabbit hole.
Lots going on in life as usual for me, some putting a little extra strain on my mind, other self inflicted things weighing heavily on me both physically and mentally. At the start of the year, setting myself a realistic distance goal on the bike was a good idea. However as the year has progressed, the self imposed stresses have started to show through. Passing my preset goal much earlier than expected led me to aim higher, and higher... To the point where although officially I have passed my goals massively, I am still coaxing myself to push harder. Physically it's taken its toll, mentally I am starting to beat myself up a bit to achieve every mini-goal I have set since then.
Mid way through the year I had the energy and get up and go to do some running too, but soon realised I was spreading myself a bit thin. That said, I had avoided injury up until this point, so it made sense to back off from the running, and focus on wellness and the initial goals. Now later in the year, I am missing running, but lacking the energy to run too. So I am really looking forward to the new year, and new beginnings. Less riding, more running, more stretching, and more about looking after myself, rather than beating the hell out of myself day in day out.
Physical battering aside, my mind is starting to feel the strain of day to day life. Getting up later, having less energy or inclination to do anything other than what is officially on my agenda. Things that need doing can wait, non urgent things can just be forgotten about. Even getting out of bed for trainer rides in the morning is becoming a bit of a chore. Sleep is shocking, with about 45 mins a night of deep sleep. Only the first hour of sleep I get nightly seems to be worth it. Once I have woken at 1-2am, I may as well get up, as it is all downhill from there on.
Nothing is on my mind really. Life is busy, has it's challenges, and a few boulders have been thrown in the road recently, but in general, life is good. A far cry to years gone by where I would have struggled to tell you anything positive about my life. But still I find myself loitering at the entrance to the damn rabbit hole.
Focus is needed, a reboot too, and hopefully that is what the time off over Xmas, the trip to Wales, and the start of a new year will give me. Time and space to hit the reset, recharge a little, and get to grips with what I need to do to get the right results for myself for 2019.
A few ideas, some new goals, a new project or two. All sounds good, now I just need to put pen to paper, draw up the proper plans.
One of the key things for me is physical well-being. I know my body has taken a bit of a beating this year, so next year will be different. More running, or should that just be running, given how little I have done this year. A focus on stretching, recovery, and maintenance is also on the cards, with a return to yoga, and getting muscles like my Psoas recovered and back to full flexibility. Pain pain go away!
On top of that, I want to get back to a daily morning routine, be it floor, gym, HIIT or bike trainer. I remember back to the days of my first round of P90X, and remember feeling supercharged every day. Starting out with some physical activity is really a great way to get the body and mind into the right place. And I think that is the balance I am looking for here.
Physical activity equates to a stronger mind. Be it the endorphins released from the buzz of the training, to the positive feelings and state of mind from being active, and feeling good about yourself. For me it works a treat, so as we progress back towards Spring 2019, I want to arrive fresh, and fully charged in both mind and body.
Until then I just need to make sure I check in with myself regularly, and stay on the level. I know I am vulnerable, but I also know I can stay in control, and do what is needed to stay out of that rabbit hole this year.
I know there are others out there circling too, and would urge them to stay positive, keep active, don't lock those feelings away, and make sure you speak to someone (or the internet like me). Bringing all the thoughts to forefront of your mind, and processing them openly is a great way to rationalise what you are feeling, and breaking the cycle of doom and gloom which shows its face so quickly at times like this.
Take care all :)
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
There are some very strange things happening recently. From being fat shamed, to mocked for mental health issues, it has been a rather interesting time to say the least recently.
My new friends Dennis and Mateo who come and go from the blog, and now more recently being trolled and insulted on social media. Sadly by someone who does it in such a snide manner, I can only compare it to a five year old sticking their fingers up at someone from behind the cover of an open hand.
Some confirmations made as to the identities of the sock puppets being used for various jobs has also been quite an amusing feat. Blocking an account bearing the names of two sock puppets used was the most telling sign.
Really does make my own mental health issues seem minor. Seeing such behaviour of an individual worries me, behavioral red flags flying all over the place. Contempt for their behaviour replaced by pity and concern. Ironic really.
Thankfully there are some amazing people out there who offer the balance when it is needed the most, for which I am eternally grateful.
Just thought I would throw this out there into the www.
Sleep well all, I know I will.
Friday, November 16, 2018
New domain, new interface, and just focus on the personal and mental health aspects of the blog in one place. No mish mash of other entries, just plain and simple "ME"!
Fingers crossed I can get this set up over the weekend, and see about duplicating some of the posts from here onto the other one, and in future keep things separate.
I shall of course refer to the new platform on here from time to time, as I know some have found a lot of information, which has helped in all sorts of ways, from some of the MH posts I have made, so I will do everything I can to ensure that this remains easy to find, and is available to people.
I had an Instagram project of a picture a day for a year running from Oct 17- Oct 18 which has now ended, obviously. So I thought now was a good a time as any to get a new project running, and hopefully I can spend more time on it in the coming year. Something to sink my teeth into so to speak.
The plan is to get the domain and platform sorted today or over the weekend, just got to do a last little bit of research before committing.
Watch this space :)
Hopefully this customer base which has served them so well will continue to frequent their establishments, and keep the cash flowing, and customer base growing. For me however, the appeal has just never been there, for reasons which I will get into in a minute.
Meanwhile, the huge brand which is Costa, which lets face it, was once a small indie, but managed to get on the gravy train and boom, globally, has decided the time is right to open in Forest Hill. But why people cry, we have plenty of indies who make amazing coffee. So let's look at why.
Staffing for one. Most chains will have more staff in them than a small independent. This means there is a production line in effect, and when a few customers are waiting, generally it is a little quicker to be served. Not a hard fact, but an obvious occasional advantage.
Then of course there is the known quantity of their offerings. Unlike independents, Costa have almost a set menu, and something you can become familiar with. For some people this is important, for others less so. Either way it enables a customer unfamiliar with an area to walk in and order something they are comfortable and confident with.
For me, the big thing is probably the bit that puts the aficionados off. That is the space, and anonymity of the place. One of the most common comments about places like Costa is they lack character and the personal touch. Me, I like that.
Some people like to regularly meet friends, greet regulars and make lots of conversation. Enjoying the surrounding of a buzzing (literally) coffee shop, and all that comes with it. I am the complete opposite.
As I say, I appreciate where people are coming from with their doubts, unfortunately it seems the same graces are not offered the other way.
For me, I like to be able to go to a place where I can separate myself from the buzz, have a bit of space to myself and my mind. While others around me can enjoy their conversations, and mingle with their friends, I like to be able to unwind, out of the way, in a corner. Sometimes get the laptop out and do a bit of writing, while topping up with hot chocolate, the occasional coffee, and of course a slice of cake.
Not everyone is the same, we are all very different creatures, who thrive in different environments. For some that is a very personal experience in a small local coffee shop. Known by name, regular order, and families asked after. For others, and I am 100% sure I am not alone here, it is about being out, gaining confidence, experiencing the buzz of day to day life, while being at arms length from it all, and feeling comfortable.
Hopefully this is where Costa comes into the mix, at least for me. And I sincerely hope that anyone else who goes through the same emotions as me in society can feel the same way too.
For some this will make sense, some will mock, and some simply reject. But whatever the reaction, I just wanted to put my view across as openly and concisely as possible, and take a break from the mockery and jokes I make about the subject the rest of the time.
Here's to all our local independents thriving, and Costa sticking around for those of us who simply feel more comfortable being in a chain coffee shop.
I just want to add, in case I am not being clear enough. Anxiety and depression suck. Being able to get back into society at a gentle pace is key to recovery, and is something I am truly passionate about. Mental health is misunderstood by so many people, but those who do understand anxiety, will hopefully appreciate this a little more.
We are all different, choice is a wonderful thing, and we just got a little more choice in the area.
Friday, November 9, 2018
Many months back when climbing back to the top of the mountain from my trip to the depths of depression and anxiety, my GP contacted me and asked if I would be interested in playing a part in the education of some future GP's. In the form of group sit down sessions, and mock GP consults at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London.
The initial group session was a blast, with a GP I knew, and trusted, having been on a long mental health journey with her, however the latter, which started today was a whole different ball game. A new location, new people, and travelling on public transport at peak time, what could go wrong, eh!
I left early, and missed the most of the rush hour, so at least I would arrive quite fresh. That worked well. 30 mins early, a walk to get some fresh air, and all was well. Arriving on Euston Road, I went into the building and soon found my way to the right place. Handed a sheet with my schedule for the day, a voucher (which I was not aware I would receive until recently) and a heads up of what to expect and when.
Settling down in the waiting area, I was immediately in awe of the grandeur of the place, stunning and modern, if not futuristic. Looking for friendly faces to try and make conversation with, I noticed that a large number of people there seemed to know each other already. Awkward, new kid on the block in the house!! Within minutes, the ice was broken with a lovely guy Brian. Making conversation with strangers is really not my forte, but this just seemed to work, super friendly and chatty, putting all my fears about the day at rest, one by one.
What soon became apparent was that the majority of the "role players" were in fact actors, given a brief of their character and symptoms. I however, along with Brian and a few more had no brief. Brian explained that we were presenting as ourselves. This was soon confirmed by the briefing and a quick Q&A at the end. Take my experience with depression and anxiety, choose an aspect of it to focus on, and work with that. Sounded simple enough, I know my mental health pretty well these days.
As the clock ticked down to the first group going in, I wondered what it would be like to try and role play a real life experience. The first GP came out and introduced himself, and reiterated the original brief, choose a symptom and work with it. I was ready!
Michael Snasdell..... the first student called. It was time.
In I went, to find not only them and the GP but another 3-4 students in there observing too. A group of strangers, excellent! Given anxiety was my planned focus, it wasn't hard to get my head into the role. Anxiety was very much present. Not in a terrible way, but at least in a way I am familiar with. So I guess if nothing else, it was an authentic performance.
As the first session went on, I opened up a bit, and really offered an insight into how I actually presented on the day when I really did go to see my GP for the first time. 20 mins in, the consult was wrapping up, and CUT.... Finally I can just be me again. Time for a debrief. I have to say I was impressed, thoroughly. Given the lack of experience in diagnosing mental health issues that the students apparently had, I was amazed at how comfortable I felt, and how realistic it all was. Certainly brought back some memories for me!
With four sessions before lunch, and four more after, I have to admit I was feeling rather exhausted mentally by the time the break came around. I grabbed a bit of the lunch they had laid on, then went out for some fresh air, space, and distraction from it all. My conversation skills were waning slightly by this point. Off to an exhibition over the road, then a stroll up and down Euston Road, taking some time to stare at the awesome St Pancras Station, before heading back in for the afternoon session.
Come the first PM session I was more prepared for the students, and if I am honest, a little harder on them, partially through not wanting to repeat the same story another four times, and partly as I could tell that I was presenting a little too easily. Sorry PM students, I did it for with your best interests at heart, and you all did an amazing job.
The afternoon was pretty much like the morning, if anything over with a bit quicker. Quick enough in fact for me to get out and away before the evening rush hour took hold, which was a huge bonus given how exhausted I was by the end of it all. After the final session popped back to the first floor and spoke with Madeleine and Niki about how the day had gone.
As a whole it was a massive thrill to be giving back to a profession that is almost completely responsible for my recovery from various mental health trials I have faced in life. From telling my GP a couple of years back that I wanted to give something, anything, back to the health service, and help as many people as I could along the way, deal with their own mental health issues, here I was. Doing it!!
It doesn't get much better than that! Genuinely.
Knowing I will be doing a couple more sessions of this is a great feeling, and I would love to be able to continue to do this, and anything else I can along the way, to help with the battle against depression and anxiety.
I was a little rather touched at being asked for a link to this blog, for them to read, as well as pass on to the students who had asked about it. Any regular and long term readers of the blog will know that I have documented my most testing of times right here, and left it all laid bare for others to read, and maybe benefit from should the need arise. I am pleased that some have already given feedback on it, and found some benefit or comfort in what they have read. It was the aim all along,
A huge thank you to everyone from Dr Elizabeth Paul at my GP surgery for suggesting this, and putting me forward to do these sessions. To Madeleine and Niki the facilitators of the course (I hope that title gives you enough credit for the amazing work you do). Not forgetting of course the amazing students who endured a day of mock consultations, and what I believe were some of your first experiences at dealing with mental health. And of course, had to put up with me!
Going back to the experiences shared with the students, I kept it as near to real life as possible, expressing fears and concerns which the conditions had presented me with at the time. Even referring back to the blog at lunch time to make sure I was staying on track. Open and honest, at times maybe even seeming a little "un-bothered" about things such as death. I won't say it was nice to see some of them struggle a bit with the questioning phase of things. Having been under exam conditions myself in recent years, I know all too well what it is like trying to keep the structure of the scenario, while following the lead of the fluid situation. I am delighted to say that by the end of it all, it was a straight 8 for 8. I would happily have revisited any of them as a GP based on my initial interactions with them. Maybe preference towards one or two over the others, but that is just a personal thing, Professionally, bravo all !!
The debrief at the end of each session gave me the opportunity to feed back to the students in the room, not only the one doing the consult. As well of course as the GP mentoring them. This was my chance to offer them a little guidance on how the session had gone, any pointers for improvements for demeanor, and give any other trinkets of information about anxiety, depression, and dealing with mental health in general. Referencing this blog a few times, I explained that while there are drugs and treatments for certain aspects of mental health, the most important bits for me had been striking up a great rapport with my GP, which enabled me to touch base from time to time,and feel like I was speaking to someone who knew me. And of course the self help side of things, such as a diary and the blog, which I often re-read to remind myself of the journeys I have been on over the years.
I will be returning next month to do another session with some more students, and in the meantime will continue to seek out other opportunities to share my experiences and knowledge with the groups of people who are the future helpers for people like myself.
A massive thank you again to Elizabeth, Madeleine and Niki for this opportunity.
I will leave it there for now, but will sure to revisit this very soon when my mind is a bit more relaxed. I just thought it important to get this blogged asap, while it was all fresh in my mind.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
As the countdown of days left in 2018 ticks down, and the mileage totals keep climbing, I can honestly say I am looking forward to Dec 31st a lot!
More time to be spent on the trainer in the pain cave, shorter commutes on the dark and damp roads, and hopefully a few more decent rides at the weekend with my bestie before the end of the year.
All primary goals met, secondary and mini goals remain, but as usual, I would love dearly to achieve them none the less.
So right now my attention is drawn to the right set up on the right bike for the commute.
Paolo with his 32c CX tyres and disc brakes is more than capable. 11 gears to choose from, wide tyres with a little tread to deal with the dampness under tyre. But the down side is weight, and rolling resistance.
Then there is Luigi, who has seen me through the start of the year, right up until recently. 25c roadie tyres, reduced contact with the ground, giving less rolling resistance. A bonus in most cases. Slightly deeper wheels, so less fun in cross winds however.
A few weeks back I ordered some lovely Schwable Marathon Plus tyres for Luigi, make him a bit more winter capable. But on trying to seat them, I found there were issues, and decided earlier in the week to ditch them, and get myself a new set of 25c's, nice slick road tyres.
Previously I have had concerns about road tyres and how capable they are at dealing with water and slippery surfaces. A ride in the Cotswolds the other weekend in torrential rain soon changed my mind on that.
So today, the new tyres arrived, so I got to it straight away and got them fitted. A quick once over for Luigi, and set up for the commute, and away we went.
Switching back to a single speed after spending a few weeks on only bikes with gears takes a bit of getting used to. No levers within the brake levers to flick while sitting in traffic, just bars and two brakes, along with a single crank, single rear cog, and a pair of pedals. All very different.
However, once you are moving, and you have remembered moving off takes a bit more effort, no cassette to flick your way through, all is well. Needless to say I did a better average speed to work today than I have for quite a while. I forget very quickly how much I love the simplicity of Luigi.
One thing that has changed is the saddle. Having swapped saddles around on a few of the bikes, Luigi has ended up with a Specialized Body Geometry Riva on there. He came with one, but this is a replacement, and it creaks !! Grrrr. Sadly finding a new replacement is a bit of a chore, but I am trying. Not sure if the Ronin replaced the Riva, but they look pretty similar. I am a believer in sticking with what you know (and were told worked for you in a bike fit). Decision on the replacement to be made soon, can't take that creaking for too long.
I also discovered at the weekend that the set up on Paolo needs some work. Just some small tweaks, but I am working on those, starting at the front with bar set up. It seems to be working.
I am really looking forward to less pressure on myself next year, less obsessing about distance of every ride contributing to goals far beyond anything I ever considered previously. I must NOT set a goal on Strava for next year!
More time on the yoga mat, more time spent doing casual runs, and not driving myself into the ground. All round wellness is the key.
A few decisions need to be made, like what regime to follow, if any, and how to divide my time between commuting, turbo trainer, and running. Not forgetting actual "get out there and ride" rides.
I think first up will be easing up on the commute, however I actually enjoy doing 2-3 times the required distance each way. Weird huh!
Well, lots to think about, lots of decisions to make... Let's see what happens.
Apparently this is something I struggle with. Ironically it has been pointed out to me by a complete strange, over and over and over again, in a rather, well, obsessive manner. By a stranger, who has taken it upon themselves to let me know exactly what the rest of the internet thinks of me.
Very kind of them I must say, I appreciate it "Dennis".
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
One thing I have found amusing recently is the assumption by some, that anything I say must be about them. An air of self importance maybe? Even more amusing is the action and reactions of said person. Choosing to reply to tweets of mine and my other half, being snotty and sarcastic, knowing full well we are blocked from viewing them in the first place. Is that chicken-shit behaviour or just plain stupid? I will let you decide.
Twitter is one a great place for speaking your mind, getting things out there, and generally having a voice. Sadly it is also a place where a lot of shit goes on, and people with multiple accounts launch attacks on people, and then back themselves up, using sock puppet accounts.
There is a fine line between using a secondary account to view things, for example, to be able to read the tweets to and about you, posted by someone who has blocked you, but insists on talking about you and trying to damage your reputation, and using a second, third, and forth account to back yourself up in arguments on Twitter and on forums.
Recently when using a secondary account to respond to such a tweet, someone decided it would be fun to "fat shame" and comment on my weight, and having an account I use for my cycling and running stuff. Mocking the fact I am trying to improve my health. Of course, in regular fashion, that tweet was swiftly deleted in the usual snipey chicken-shit fashion.
Having something to say is one thing, saying it is something else. But if you really mean it, believe it, and want to be respected, say it, and leave it be. Don't delete or edit it to try and protect the fake "good reputation" you believe you have. That's just lame!
Of course, I have had my fair share of low moments on social media, stooping to new depths to try and get a point across. That said, everything I have ever said is still there. I allow people to have their opinions, and even when they use fake accounts or anon accounts to post replies on my blog, making personal comments about my mental health (cos we all know mental health is a laughing matter eh), I am happy to leave the comments there. It's quite simple, if you want to talk shit about me, go for it, but don't cry when it comes right back at you.
A bit like now. With the worm turning violently on such a person. Threatening legal action for defamation, quoting libel law, as if anyone actually gives a shit about their reputation anyway. It is really quite hilarious how brave someone can be from afar. Levels of self importance climbing to dizzy new heights, acting as if they are not to be messed with.
It is sad though that others are dragged into the who mess, people being called to take sides, rushing to the defence of someone they think they know, all the while having no idea what sort of person they are defending or speaking up for.
It is quite ironic to be on the receiving end of treatment you are willing to dish out yourself, only to be upset by it. What's good for the goose... and all that!
I am sure the whole matter will blow over, but one day, one day it won't. All the people who have suffered the abuse and threats of such people always rise up in the end. Then the truth will be out there for people to judge for themselves. Calling people liars, or suggesting their comments are libellous is all well and good, but it only works for so long. There is no smoke without fire, and right now it is hard to see through the smoke!
Right, I await the first comments, from people who don't follow me on Twitter or on here, yet somehow stumble across the blog, and feel the need to "attack" me.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Suspicions confirmed, bullshit'o'meter off the fuckin scale, and an all out offensive defence play.
We can all see it, well most of us anyway. There will always be those who blindly follow.
In the meantime, let's see if this latest power play works or not. The cloak of invisibility is completely down, and the level of dirty tricks, silly games, and utter lack of spine are turned up to 11.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
As the darker evenings draw in, the commute changes drastically, the clothing and bike set up also change, as does the speed and urgency of the ride.
I have already noticed that my desire to get home quickly (ish) has been replaced by the want to get home in one piece. Watching others around me acting like nothing has changed. Not using lights or any extra caution on their rides.
It is this time of year that I spend most of my time, be it on the bike on in the car, cringing at the lack of attention which some road users demonstrate. We all make mistakes, there is no doubt about that, but some seem not to care about their own actions and responsibilities, and worry only about those of others. Who should have been watching out for them etc.
I learned a lesson at the weekend, and that was regarding tyre choice. My long time misconceptions of what tyres are best for each season were laid to rest. 65 miles through huge puddles, down long wet downhill sections at speed (brakes are another story all together), and through muddy tracks along the country lanes, I was hugely impressed by the grip from the Continental Gatorskins I had on the bike. I have always worried about the lack of tread (too much time spent in a car I guess), however now, I am enlightened.
The weather was also a great test for the various lights and tech attached to the bike, with only one light falling foul to the water ingress. That was a freebie anyway, so no heartbreak there. The new Knog + lights I bought recently had a great test for not only their water proofing, but their mounts too. I am pleased to report that the magnetic mounts held out perfectly on the very rough surfaces of the ride.
All I need now are my new riding shoes/ boots from Tredz, which are due "any time now" and a decent pair of water repellent cycling tights. Legs are indeed waterproof, but on the longer rides, a little comfort would be lovely. Maybe bib shorts were not the best choice of clothing for a long ride in the wet.
Here's to everyone having a safe and comfortable winter on their bikes. Stay safe people, and take your own safety seriously, don't rely on others to take care of it for you.
Obviously it is not to everyones taste, and my opinions don't always sit to well with some. But you see, that is the beauty of it, it's mine, so I can say what I feel, without ever feeling I am speaking for a majority, or on behalf of a group or an organisation.
Recently my opinions seem to really have ruffled some feathers, and it was pointed out to me that I was anti progress, anti new neighbours, pro chain, and a number of other things which I didn't quite grasp what the point of the comments were.
All the while, I support openly the new businesses opening in the area, seemingly somewhat more than some people are. Always great to see new businesses popping up, but some of the comments and attitude that people have towards them only bolster my earlier comments some people. Obviously, such people will disagree with me, and who knows, maybe even call me names again *sob sob* lol
It never fails to amuse me how some people feel they have the right to launch a personal attack on someone they know nothing about, have never met, and most of the time, have completely misunderstood or misinterpreted in the first place. Sure it gets to me, I am a delicate little flower when it comes to things like that, over thinker, and anxiety sufferer. Who knows, maybe people get off on having a pop at someone they know will take it badly.
So, just to clarify... This blog is my own, generally about me and my opinions, and will vary on topic as and when I see fit. Hope this clears up any confusion.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
I have learned a lot about cycling, commuting, and myself since then, so thought I would take a look back and reflect at what I thought was possible, compared to what turned out to be reality.
In late 2017 I said the following were my goals for 2018
4,500 is the I'm looking at I think. Main are improving my climbing, getting out more, and smooth endurance rides.
Elevation would be nice to get 150 next year especially with chasing the 100 Climbs list.
All in all, my main is to be consistent in all I do.
On and positives from this year. I can achieve great things if I commit fully.
I know I have made other comments, suggesting I wanted a Fondo a month, every month. Four 100 mile rides in the year (having never done any before), as many Sportives as I could fit in to name a few.
So how have I done?
Well for starters, it is worth pointing out that it is early Oct at the moment, so still two and a half months left in the year. That is actually the whole point of this post.
From the offset, little did I know, I was slightly over reaching what reality would allow for. Getting lots of climbs done was a lovely goal, and I started out with good intentions, however the year was just not that great for allowing many to happen. A little disappointing, but something that can be revisited at any time with some careful ride planning. Not to mention my physical condition at the start of the year was somewhat short of what was needed to really tackle some of the hills, as I soon found out.
Four centuries, well, that could still happen, if I really put my mind to it. However, I am not entirely sure I want to. Well I WANT to, but the sensible part of me says one more at the most. Given the weather, ride buddy availability, and the levels of enthusiasm left. I want to enjoy as much of each ride as I can, not do it for the sake of proving something. I have done too much of that already. So currently I have two under my belt, and one more possibly on the cusp. Three out of four will do me fine, two out of four, I will survive with that.
Frequency. Well in the early part of the year, 49 days straight with no rest days. Commuting and just getting out there, that in itself was an achievement, albeit a bit of a silly one. But hey, no pain, no gain eh! I have managed to commute most days of the year so far, even in the coldest parts of Jan and Feb, I was still managing to get the miles in, and that has continued. I have had two noticeable breaks from riding, one health induced, the other I chose as I just wanted some time off the bikes. Other than that, my mileage has been pretty regular throughout the year.
Speaking of mileage, my goal was a mildly ambitious 4,250 for the year. Given my total for 2017 was in the low to mid 3,000, I thought 4,250 was a nice step up. However, I seem to have achieved that in a much shorter time than I expected. I have not extended my goal though, as it seems that I would just be pushing myself a bit too much, and for no reason. I set a good goal, and achieved it, anything after is a bonus, not a stretch goal. Currently around the 5,500 mile mark, there are a couple of numbers I have in the back of my mind to reach, but I am not going to commit to them in any way.
Mini goals have been my motivation, my drive, and also my worst enemy so far this year. Statistical numbers, creating targets to reach. Longest ride, longest distance in a month and a week, beating where I was a year before, power, elevation. Wherever I look, there is a mini goal waving at me, trying to tempt me to push harder and harder. And that is where the throttle comes into it...
It's time to throttle back a bit. Ease up on the pressure on myself to achieve, stop trying to prove anything to myself or anyone else. In the midst of all this riding, I have also returned to running, getting 10k fit. It was around that point I started to realise that I was maybe pushing a little too hard. 10k run before work, then commuting to and from work via the longest route practical (10-11 mile rather than 4.2 miles which is the shortest route) 100-180 mile weeks, plus the running. It was only a matter of time before I injured myself. Which.................didn't happen!! Amazing I know (will probably sprain my wrist writing the rest of this blog!)
After 282 days of pushing myself, I have finally decided, the last 83 days of the year will be "no pressure". That is not to say I won't be giving it my best, it just means I won't be pushing close to self destruction. My aim, is to stop setting more and more mini goals. Keep the ones I have in mind right there, and allow myself a little freedom, away from the pressure of must ride, must ride. That said, I have a sportive this weekend coming lol! But that is just for kicks, no pressure, back to enjoying the riding, and reaping the rewards.
From here on in, I want to get a mix of riding and running in over a regular period. Rest where needed, enjoy a day off here and there, and let my body recover a bit. It has seen big changes over this past 10 months. If it was not for the tattoos I would not recognise my legs anymore.
Next year, I want to start fresh, no mileage goals, no targets for riding, other than enjoy myself, and continue being a regular commuter. I want to turn my attention to the other 2/3rds of my body mass, and give that a bit of love too. With a fresh and healthy ethos in mind. Consistency over effort levels, all over rather than just legs, and for me, not for my ego and others.
Floor and core work is key, yoga will return, and getting a little trimmer, while still enjoying life is the key. Weight, just a number, only relevant when calculating my watts per kg on the bike. Well being is the primary goal, feeling good is what I want.
Physically over the past year I have proven I can achieve things I want badly enough. Overcome pain and discomfort to reach the peak. If ever there was a time I proved to myself I am in control of my mind as well as my body, it has been this year. Sometimes to the detriment of my body, that has to stop.
So to everyone who is achieving all their goals, keep at it, I know I am! But look after yourself too. It is nice to keep the ego happy, but better to keep the body and mind happy too. Find the balance :)
Oh before I go, I have to say.... Mentally and physically, I have had my best year for wellbeing in years! The physical activity will have a lot to do with all of that, so I am keen to maintain that. Other than one mid year little hiccup, this has been an amazing year without a doubt, so thank you to everyone who has been a part of it.
Cheaper fares, yaaaayyy!!
That is all it is about, honest. Nothing to do with the "oh I live in Zone 2" status statement, or drawing yet another line between "them and us". I have long whined on about the divide in SE23, and how important or over played it really is, however it seems that some will not be content until they make it into a whole new place. Maybe it should get its own postcode HOP1 or something? How about that?
While I admire the desire to get changes which benefit the many, I sometimes think the motives, and conversations they spawn are a little more telling.
For the residents of HOP, who bought their houses in Zone 3 pricing, result. A change of zone is sure to have an impact of sorts on the house prices. For those renting, well that is a different matter, they can no doubt expect their rent to rise next time their contract is up.
Parking, because of the close knit of side streets, with quite a few blocked roads, which HOP is made up of, parking is already a bit of a chore. Regularly discussed on local forums, parking outsides ones house is a bonus not a certainty. With some (to the annoyance of others) pave their gardens to get off street parking.
To imagine that other commuters will not be attracted to the area is nothing less than ignorant. For those between Forest Hill and HOP stations, the obvious choice would be to head towards HOP for the preferential travel pricing. Not to mention those who drive in from other areas and park near FH station. The obvious choice would be to head nearer HOP and travel to and from there.
Should HOP get re-zoned, how long before there is uproar and calls for residential parking zones to be extended through the streets?
Another unconsidered side effect is local businesses. many businesses get a fair bit of trade from commuters as they pass the shops on their way to and from work. Dartmouth Road is booming, London Road is getting a Costa, it's all going so well. Perry Vale shops also get a bit of passing trade from that end of the area.
Now take away all those people who could do their foot commute to HOP instead, or indeed park closer to HOP and walk through the back streets. All that passing trade for FH, gone.
The arguments being made about where is the centre of London, how randomly is was chosen, etc seems to ramble on a bit, but the quote below sheds a little light on the matter.
Interesting eh. It isn't a dart thrown at a dart board, or some cunning person from Forest Hill who wanted to persecute those who he envied as they lived in the modern Utopia known as Honor Oak Park. It was done eons ago, when mapping London's road networks etc was done, and those signs started to appear with how far it was to London. A central point was decided long before TfL came into existence.
Just before I wrap up this latest whine, I thought I would refer back once again to The Londonist. You see this whole re-zoning thing has been done before, the conversations had, and the points made. Read all about it in the comments section of this old post. It also has a somewhat more geographically accurate map of London and the zones too.
Til next time, I will carry on observing the threads of discussions on the internet, and watch with amazement as yet another thing which won't really impact me unfolds, and is decided. Something some other people who are not local enough, or involved should maybe consider doing too. #JustSayin
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Comments about my last blog suggested my words were poison, I was caught in tribalism, and that I was unwilling to accept new people, businesses and buildings in the area.
Well, that was already a slight misrepresentation of what I had actually said. I have never said change is bad. I have however said that moving to an area which doesn't have all the boxes ticked, and them stomping your feet that they are not ticked, is a little weak, to say the least.
What I missed out from the initial blog was the outcry of disappointment when new businesses, not to the liking of some, make a proposal to open. There is a very clear message in some peoples comments that a similar business of a slightly more affluent nature would be welcomed. However as it is not the business they were hoping for, it can go to hell.
Example being the Aldi proposal in Bell Green. Opposed by some for genuine reasons, but for others, it just wasn't the retailer they wanted, so it should be opposed and blocked by any means necessary.
Today, a proposal has come to light which will see the redevelopment of a local business, and change it into a similar business, with a few storeys added to the height of the new building, and the inclusion of a 66 room hotel. God forbid !
Seeing some of the reactions, I get it. Concerns of daylight, being overlooked, and other such concerns. All understandable. However, once again, the air of snobbery and NIMBY raises it's ugly head, and the protests begin. Throwing up all sorts of reasons to oppose the proposal, some almost laughable in fact.
I don't live locally enough to the proposed site to really have a genuine opinion on it, not one which has any bearing on the matter. However, my general feeling towards it are much the same as the similar proposal nearby which is also a hotel and retail building, and that is, change is good.
Going back to my blog, and the comments made on it, this is exactly why the comments were "incorrect" so to speak. These are both pretty big changes to the area local to my house. They are no doubt going to have a number of impacts on the local roads, increased population of the area etc. I have no issues with that at all. However I bet that some of the people who said I was tribalised in my ways, are the same people who would object to these proposals.
Seeing two hotel companies willing to invest large sums into new businesses in the area is surely a good thing. Just because preferred retailers are not currently interested in moving into the area, surely seeing other businesses making their move is a positive for the area? Surely it shows that certain sectors feel there is room for growth, so the area has potential for now and the future. Is this not the exact thing I was told I was against, that I am supporting openly here?
So to clarify... I am all for change, I am all for the bettering of the area. More businesses, more jobs, more homes.. What I am against are people who pick and choose based on certain criteria, and go out of their way to be obstructive, purely because its not the business they wanted. Independent pizza shops pop up all over the place, hurrah, Domino's planned. DOWN WITH DOMINO'S !!
New supermarket planned, is it M&S or Waitrose? No? SAY NO TO NEW SUPERMARKET!
Does it make more sense now. You either support development and growth, or you don't. If you are going to be vocal about your selective mindset, expect to be called out on it.
SE23 has celebrated independent coffee shops, and that is something to be proud of for sure. So why is a Costa such a bad thing? More choice for those who prefer the chain. NO! May those people be damned for their poor taste in coffee, you should drink REAL coffee!!
There are so many examples of this selective NIMBYism. Going back to hotels.. We want SE23 to grown, we want it to be more affluent, have better shopping options, venues for entertaining, and fine dining etc. However we don't want hotels. Hotels which bring more people to the area, increasing footfall, increasing demands on local businesses, and making the area somewhat more desirable to the exact businesses which would turn a NIMBY to a YIMBY in a heartbeat.
As I was told, see the bigger picture.
With the Overground now in SE23, things are changing for sure, after all it was after the announcement of it coming to the area that the development of some new buildings started, the house prices rose, and the area became "more desirable". With the first wave of growth and development done and settled, other changes locally and to the transport infrastructure once again put SE23 on the map. However this time (since the explosion of social media) the voices of opposition are loud.
Time will tell what comes next for the area, but again, to be clear, I welcome the changes. When the house next to mine was demolished, and changed from being a single family dwelling to SEVEN flats, I gulped and just carried on. When the same thing happened two doors further down, my reaction was the same. Local parking became a pain in the arse, the mannerisms of the new residents were very different to those of days gone by. Bins all over the place, bad parking, parties etc. Some of which is easy to suck it up, other bits just make you wish people would be a little respectful and try and include themselves in the neighbourhood. Alas, not so.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
I have lived elsewhere, I have visited many places, but have always felt most comfortable right back within your streets.
My childhood was spent exploring the local roads. Finding all those alleyways, and cul-de-sacs hidden away from the view of every day life. Absolute gems of architecture, which I have grown to respect with age, and of course the odd blot on the landscape.
From a young child, to a man now in his 40's, you have shown me the values of a home, rather than a place to live, and I hope as the years go by, we will continue to have a wonderful relationship.
But..... SE23, there is a problem. It's not me, it's not you...... IT'S THEM !!!
Who the hell are these entitled arseholes who have moved in? When did SE23 become full of pompous idiots who demand all their demands are met. We want this shop, we don't like this company, who are these people who have parties, it's too light, dark, grey, green..... Please, make them go away!
We were happy for so long. All the people who have spent their lives here with us, growing with the area, seeing businesses come and go. The Swiss Cottage, Woolworths, The Golden Griddle, the old petrol station on Waldram Park Road.... So many memories of days gone by, but all replaced by modern day businesses or building, most of which I welcome. Obviously, nothing is perfect, but as a whole, I love you SE23.
So back to those people. They are ruining what we have. The spillover from other local areas, reluctant to say they simply could not afford to live elsewhere, they tell us they are part of the "gentrification" of the area. The new breed, the start of a movement to bring the area up to date, and with the times.
For starters, some of these people need to understand what gentrification actually is. It is not modernisation, or a slight change in social wealth in an area. It is a bricks up redesign on an area for social development, and pushing out the existing people.
Let's get one thing straight here, we (the natives of the area) ain't going nowhere. Don't like us, don't like our ways? Simple, don't move here.
Recent years have seen people move to this lovely area, and start smear campaigns about loved locals, made snide comments to damage people and businesses which simply don't fit into their perfect little worlds, and started some sort of movement to turn the area into something it quite simply is not.
SE23, you are beautiful, filled with green spaces, tree lined streets, wide roads, and many lovely people and businesses, but a village, no! Quaint, nope! As for prime for gentrification.... Fuck right off!
I know you know I want what is best for you, I think I have gotten to know you pretty well over the years. So please, sell yourself more to the mainstream, lets see those building projects, the NIMBY arseholes are all crying about, happen. Bring on the chain stores like Costa to give the local independents a kick in the pants where needed. Domino's can't come soon enough, and lets see the good people of SE23 rise up and claim back what is theirs.
No more of this "I want it this way" bullshit. Talk of blocking cycle paths with concrete blocks, just in case mopeds ride through fire gates.... WTF !! What sort of nonsense is this? Who are these people who are moving in to this area? This is not the mindset of South London, this is people who think they live in South Kensington. Get a grip people!!
Now I love people, I love diversity, and I want this to work, I really do SE23. We can all live together in perfect harmony I am sure. We just need to be a bit more picky about some of the people moving in, and let them know where exactly they are moving in to. Streets are no uniquely lined with independent shops, simply because, well..... you are a town, not a village! Lidl and Aldi are popular because, well.... Most people shop with their budgets in mind, and don't let their precious egos get in the way. Good quality food, at affordable prices. Not the same food at over inflated prices, with premium price tags attached.
I think you are worthy of the finest businesses which suit the needs of our area, I really do. However I also know you don't take it to heart when some brands choose not to open branches in your neighbourhood. Usually based on the demographic of the area, and the projected revenues. I think the only people with a problem with this are those who, just for a moment, realise they are not living in the suburban utopia they like to think they are. A momentary reality check, you live in South London, get over yourself you pompous idiot.
SE23, if it is OK with you, I want to renew our vows to one another, just as long as you promise this is just a glitch, and that the madness will end one day. Sure, lets move up the ranks of most desirable places to live, let's celebrate the wonderful area that you really are, but don't let them bully you into over stretching yourself. You are perfect just the way you are.
As a side note... Dear people of the area, if you have lived here over 10-15 years, I am sure you appreciate the area for all it has to offer. There are some great tight knit communities around the area, speaking from personal experience, I know in times of need my neighbours have my back, and we are as one.
If you have moved in over recent years, and are one of these who chooses not to get to know any of your neighbours, or take an immediate dislike to them, well, quite frankly, that is your problem. Please don't move to an area which is loaded with history, family legacies, and so much more, and immediately think that things should be done differently now that you have moved in.
It doesn't work like that, and if you don't like it, do one! Do your research, find out about an area, and neighbourhood, rather than moving in and suddenly expecting to become the head of the house. If you demand certain businesses, don't like the wildlife in an area broken into two districts, one with FOREST in the name and the other with PARK in it, don't move to it!
I am sick and tired of hearing the whining of the primadonnas, complaining that bin men are noisy, mopeds use the streets, their flat white is too milky, or that a frickin pizza place is daring to open locally to them! Get a grip of yourselves, or STFU, please!!
I could go on for ages about this, but can actually feel myself turning into a whining little NIMBY, so am going to go to the spa and have a green tea and meditate for a while....
Seriously though. If you are just moving in, or moved in recently, welcome to the area. Please take some time to get to know your neighbours, hell, just do a leaflet drop with some contact details, and a hi, you don't have to buy everyone hampers, or invite them over for canapes, (thats no how we do things around here!). SE23 is a fantastic area to live. Perfect, no, but it sure as hell doesn't need a Laurence Llewelyn Bowen make over.... Maybe a little DIY SOS at best :)
I guess it is worth adding, for fairness and balance. There is nothing wrong with hoping for improvements to an area when you move in. Hell, there is no such place as the perfect area. I have no issue with that whatsoever. Nor do I have a problem with new people moving in. It's a free country, and I don't blame you for wanting to move into this lovely area.
The people I speak of a a tiny but very vocal minority, much like those who read this entry in its original form, and took immediate offence, and told me I was wrong, and my words were poison. See, THAT is the problem right there.... Not just an opinion, FACT, I was wrong.
Monday, October 1, 2018
Hello, my name is Michael. This is my blog, and I would like to tell you a little about myself.
So where do I start? It has been quite a while since I stopped taking Citalopram for my depression. It feels great to be med free again, after what seemed like forever this time around. Of course, I am managing to keep myself busy with other activities to keep my brain balanced, and my mind occupied. That is not to say I have not had wobbles. It is actually pretty scary feeling a wobble, especially when you can recall so clearly where you end up if you fall.
The simplest of things can cause one, a small disagreement which causes you to question yourself, is enough to get things moving. Thankfully, I have regained my composure and stability before it was too late.
Cycling and running are really keeping me honest to myself. Requiring me to keep focused, and put energy into the activity is a great way to keep things going. With over 5,000 miles covered so far this year, I am pushing myself like I have never pushed before. To the point where I am having to call myself out at times and take a break, before I run myself into the ground. I already know that I will have to dial it back a little for next year, which may or may not cause a bit of a void for me. I am already thinking ahead to see what I can do to fill that.
Another thing that I have done to stay busy is my Snazy365 project on Instagram. (https://www.instagram.com/snazy365/)
A photo a day, for a year. Something to reflect the day, and to see if I can simply scroll back through them and recall that day from an image of one event. It has been fun, but all wraps up tomorrow on day 365! I am considering what I can do next, maybe a repeat, maybe something a bit stricter on rules. We shall see.
Other than that, work is the same, life is pretty good, and I am doing my best to be the best version of myself that I can be, without too much misery.
Tuvaaq is getting old and stiff now. Meanwhile Kallik is maturing into a lovely dog, calming down to a great extent, but still a little arsehole at times. After a long phase of sleeping outside at night, he is back inside. However has developed an annoying desire to go out at about 2am!
Then there is little madam Anya..... Well she has a long way to go before she fits my ideals. Some of her naughtiness is a little funny, while the rest is just sent to test us. She will get there, slowly but surely. I would not want it any other way.
So, that is about it really, I am still very much me. Annoying, opinionated, stubborn and a little arrogant at times. Life is good, can't say I would change anything right now.
The lack of ability to either see ones responsibility in a situation, let alone accept it, is getting quite worrying these days.
From the world stage, to personal experiences, all anyone seems to want to do is blame someone else for something that has happened, and rid themselves of any blame whatsoever.
I recently had a "popular" Twitter post, in which people felt the need to call me out on my opinions towards cyclists wearing hivis clothing. At no point did I suggest it should be made law, become a legal requirement, or say that anyone not wearing it deserved to be mowed down.
However the "blame someone else" brigade came out in force to be heard.
From posting a comparison of four tops I wear for cycling, and suggesting some were more visible than others, and it was wise to be seen, before I knew it I was being accused of faking the photos, suggesting drivers were within their rights to mow people down, and suggesting that it was a cyclists duty to make themselves visible, so motorists didn't have to look for them.
I won't get into the whole tweet right now, but all I can say is, all those people who felt that way, and had some sort of attitude that motorists are all arrogant and entitled, is simply trying to shift blame. The same people refuse to accept cyclists jump red lights, or if they do, they say its OK as they don't kill people.
Demanding data is provided in order to have a worthy "opinion", while ramming skewed data down your throat, to support the "its' not my fault" agenda.
The list goes on, but just using the anti motoring, (looney) pro cycling bunch as an example, their solutions are simple. Cyclists are NOT to blame, cyclists need do nothing else to make themselves safer, wearing helmets is pointless (data said so) hivis clothing also pointless (data said so)
All we need is more infrastructure. Which is great, yes, lets have more infrastructure.... but what about country lanes, what about smaller roads. There are 245,000 miles of roads in the UK.... Does there need to be infrastructure on every mile of it?
I was even scrutinised by a complete stranger, asked where I rode, when, how often, what my experiences were...... Relevant why? Oh I get it, to try and find a chink in my armour, to find an argument about me having a rationalised opinion, based on actual experience, rather than hearsay, or "data".
All to point out, it' not their fault.... It's someone elses.
The same applies in all walks of life, right up to the top of responsibility. Governments blame previous governments for weaknesses, short fallings, and events which led up to the current moment. However never look back far enough to the last time they were responsible, and say, oh actually, we could have set things up a bit better.
The problem is, the more wide spread this all becomes, the easier it becomes to just blame someone else, the harder it becomes to find the truth, the solutions, and learn from the event. And that is my worry here.
Quite frankly, the Twitter bullies, who are too ignorant, arrogant or blind to take some responsibility, well more power to them. At the end of the day, the only people who will suffer for those attitudes, are themselves.
Meanwhile, in society, in our communities, we have similar discussions taking place. Some of great importance, others of little consequence, but the outcome is still the same. People too set in their ways to accept there are options, too caught up in their own existence, to for one second consider others, and some people just hell bent on causing misery for others, regardless of the cost.
Take your heads out of your arses people, and take a look around you for once. Actually think your opinions through, consider your actions, and size up the consequences. Make a change!
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Here in London, with a growing population, more congested roads are becoming the norm, so finding alternative methods of transport is a big thing. TfL ( Transport for London) are keen to encourage, walking, public transport and of course cycling. Much emphasis is put on the latter in social media, and press releases, as well as city wide advertising and "initiatives". I say it with quotes, as while some initiatives such as cycle rental are a resounding success, the investment, and development of the infrastructure is seriously lacking.
Cycle Superhighways were to be the answer, large dedicated cycle paths, cutting through the suburbs into the heart of our great city. Carrying large volumes of cyclists quickly and safely into their places of work. Lightening the loads on the roads and public transport system. A master plan showed where they would run, and we were shown that cycling would indeed be the future of transport for many in London.
Sadly, these master plans were never to be realised, for a variety of reasons, from poor planning, to lack of cooperation from local boroughs. Either way, the plan has currently fallen a little short of the goal.
There are some interesting stories about this situation here. https://www.citymetric.com/transport/five-times-boroughs-and-other-authorities-have-blocked-plans-build-new-cycle-lanes-london
As the years creep by, both TfL and individual local boroughs have made plans to improve cycling in their jurisdictions, some a resounding success, others either shelved or executed so badly that the provided infrastructure fails to make good on its promises, and becomes unusable.
While the battle with the authorities rumbles on, people lobbying and begging for areas to be reconsidered and made safer (myself included with a successful discussion with my local MP recently), a bigger battle rages on. On the internet!!
We all have an opinion on things, some we are more passionate about than others, however a line needs to be drawn. Once you pass that line, your voice gets louder, but it has less effect. No one listens to a screaming lunatic, at best we allow someone with a raised voice a short time to gain our interest before we decide to ignore them, or listen on.
The people who discuss such matters on the internet, on platforms such as Twitter, usually break down into two groups. Pro and Anti. As with many other subjects in society which attract such passion and sometimes rage, the members of those two groups usually have the loudest voice, and take up the majority of the space on the platform. Sadly this smothers the voice of reason and rational discussion. Opinions which differ from theirs are not welcome, and every effort will be made to shut you down. Once this is done, some sort of victory dance is done, and your spoils are to be paraded on social media. Well done you, you stopped someone with an opinion from engaging any further in a discussion.
When it comes to cycling, there are many people on the internet who wish to make it clear than cyclists have NO place on the public road. Usually stating that road tax (doesn't exist) and insurance are lacking, therefore the cyclist has no place on the public road.
The counter argument for this is cyclists are "road users" like anyone else, and deserve respect, and a bit of space to go about their journey. Which I as a regular commuter, with 4,000 miles of cycling, mostly in London, this year under my belt, completely agree with.
However that is where I part ways with the Pro group.
The Pro group will go further, making sure anyone who dares to challenge the behaviour of a cyclist is dragged out in front of the crowd and belittled until such a time they admit defeat (or block the other users).
Only yesterday, which commenting on a very scary video in which an HGV driver almost turned straight into a cyclist, I was pulled up in front of the Courts of Twitter to face charges of "victim blaming". This is where you for some reason choose to apportion blame to the victim, rather than accepting and agreeing that the perpetrator was indeed the one to blame. Of course, this is all relative.
If you were to agree the HGV driver were to blame, however point out that the cyclist neither seemed aware of the lorrys presence, or reacted to it, in my books you would be making an observation, rather than "victim blaming". However it would seem that some would disagree with this, and demand that at no point should comment be made about the cyclist, who would have been the victim here.
Now to be clear, blame has already been assigned to the driver at this point, the follow up comment is merely an observation. However to the Pro, this is not acceptable behaviour. All comments prior to mentioning the cyclist will be ignored, and constant ridicule will begin. Name calling, questions of competency, and general comments on your existence will begin.
Should you attempt to engage in a rational conversation at this point, your efforts with be thwarted by what I assume are attempts of further belittling, until you get fed up and stop replying.
I genuinely appreciate passionate conversation and discussion, I am happy to learn from others, and be educated. However, I draw the line in engaging with utter morons who have nothing better to do than troll the internet looking for fights. Take the moral high ground (which they have at no point gained through rational discussion) and come across with a holier than thou attitude.
As a cyclist in London, as well as someone who driver a vehicle in London at times, I believe I am in a position to discuss from both sides of the table. I am able to see situations from both perspectives. I can honestly say my manner of both riding and driving in London has changed, as my understanding of how events unfold has grown. I wonder if others engaging in these discussions share the same standpoint?
Of course, the arguments are not limited to one side. There are of course the Anti cyclists out there, who feel that their journeys in their motorised metal boxes should in no way be impeded by someone on a pushbike. Be it dressed in a suit of lycra. Annoyed that they are unable to join the tail end of stationary traffic in record time after pulling away from the latest red light, they will jostle for position at the stop line, and be off (and stopped again) in the blink of an eye. Should a cyclist get in their way, all hell will break loose, with abuse being splattered all over the place, as well as engine revving, and horn sounding. The result, sometimes a shaken cyclist, sometimes a confrontation, but in general, just a shrug, and getting on with life.
When these sorts arrive on social media, they will vehemently argue their case, they pay road tax, insurance and all sorts of other taxes, so are the priority road users. How dare some hippy on a push bike who makes no contributions to the roads get in their way. Get off the roads, ride on the pavement, even get a car, are some of the regular arguments from Anti cyclists. What is quite amusing in all this is the percentage of Anti cyclists who are "professional drivers". Be it black cab, bus, or lorry, the percentage seems very high. I had a run in with a bus driver the other week who felt I was taking up too much of the left lane (bus lane) as he passed me in the right lane to turn right. Not even impeding him in any way, yet he felt the need to sound his horn and flip the birdie. Our subsequent conversation revealed he felt I was taking up too much space and should have moved closer to the kerb. A very common argument indeed.
For any motorist who isn't aware. The kerb and gutter are the one place no cyclist wants to find themselves. Although some other cyclists who we are forced to share the road with, would ironically disagree, and demand you move over to allow them room to pass you. Really is a dog eat dog world out there, and I will come back to this point in a bit.
However, when passing a cyclist, the guidance is a minimum of 1 -1.5 metres. This is to allow the cyclist room to move from side to side from their path a little, to avoid any potholes, raised iron work, or other obstructions. You know, the exact same things YOU as a motorist swerve to avoid too. Yet somehow don't understand why someone with 1" of contact with the road would want to avoid it? Strange!
So, there we have it, the two sides to the argument on social media.
What do we take away from this? Well it is simple. The loudest voices make the most noise. Noise, not sense. While drowning out the calmer quieter voices of reason. The people willing to try and engage properly to find some resolution to the matter, and are willing to commit to long term discussion and conversation with the powers that be. Not the shouty little people who just want to make every situation a cause for their argument, while refusing to even consider other peoples opinions.
There are some verbal campaigners out there who I really respect. Rational, balanced, and in the right frame of mind. People who appreciate it is a shared space which required mutual respect. Not demanding that their rights are taken seriously, and all their demands are heard and fulfilled .
Maybe the shared video clips of genuine close passes and dangerous behaviour continue to be shared, and those responsible held to account.
However, can we please cut with the streams of "nothing" which is somehow turned into an incident. With drivers being ridiculed for doing nothing wrong.
So, going back to cyclists, and the dog eat dog world. Sometimes, cyclists are their own worst enemies. Not only online with the pro cyclists becoming embroiled with online battles, and being seen as the voice of the majority of cyclists, tarring us all with the same irrational and aggressive brush, but also on the roads.
Travel at rush hour and you will find yourself surrounded by different groups. The racer, must get there first, will bully you out of the way, and almost treat you as a motorist might. You have NO right to get in their way on your pushbike. The blinkered commuter. In their own little world of over ear headphone induced euphoria, oblivious to anything else around them. Weaving about, bumping into people, sawing through red lights and crossings. The general cyclist, trying to get from A to B, safely, calmly, and without any fuss. It's not a race, just a journey, and one they wish to complete with as little engagement with others as possible.
There are many kinds of cyclist out there, but a large percentage of dangerous or aggressive interactions, as well as some quite unsanitary experiences, I have had on the roads, as a cyclist, have been with other cyclists.
My message after all that is a very simple one. Can people please just pay a little more attention to the consequences of THEIR actions, and spend a little less time focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong. If you want to use your voice wisely, instead of spending hours of your day shouting at complete strangers on the internet, find a way to engage and play a part in the evolution of travel. Instead of bombarding officials with letter after letter, video after video about trivial events, most of which do not even warrant said officials time, take the time to be clear, concise, and most of all measured in your communication.
Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings, think ahead, and be ready to react. Being "in the right" will not save you from catastrophic injuries, or indeed causing them to others. It's not about right of way, it is not about rights at all, it is simply about arriving alive, and avoiding any incidents along the way, REGARDLESS of blame.
Never mind "victim blaming", just stop trying to blame, point the finger, and belittle people, and focus on improving things for the future.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Prime example, this morning. Lovely morning, great forecast, fantastic weather for an early rise ride... But no! For some reason the brain wasn't having it, so that idea was quickly written off. Substituting the opportunity of riding out in the glorious weather, in fresh flowing air, with riding on Zwift on your trainer is a weak choice, but it is the one I went with.
I seem to worry about being too far from home, mechanical breakdown, or coming off. Not things which used to cross my mind so much. Maybe it is experience weighing down on me, maybe just my mind finding excuses I will listen to, to stop me over doing it. 130 mile week again this week, almost 4,000 miles for the year, and probably not enough rest. If I am left to my own devices, I will happily over do it. So maybe this is a good thing?
Either way, I know I am missing out. So if it is my mind trying to stop me over doing it, I need to reel it in elsewhere, to allow myself the chance to make the most of the good weather.
I have Ride London 46 in a couple of weeks time, and should complete my annual mileage goal around the same time. Hopefully after that I will get this demon off my back, stop obsessing quite so much, and relax more with the weekday riding, and have a bit more freedom for the weekends. I also need to start making an effort to get to new places to ride.
Whatever the reason, it is pissing me off now. Not to say I am not trying hard enough, or achieving enough. Trainer miles, road miles, commuter miles, they all take energy, commitment and focus, regardless of what your beliefs are about each discipline. They burn calories and take a toll on you physically. That is one of the reasons I cycle, so goal achieved.
For me, there is an element of willy waving involved, a huge chunk of physical health, saves money, and the big one, mental health.
Speaking of which, it is really disappointing that my employer Fedex, does not participate in a cycle to work scheme. Given that it is a logistics company, with green commitments, a large fleet and employee base, and a vested interest in mental health (apparently), yet is caught up in the fine print of the agreements, so won't get involved.
But back to the mental health bit. For me it has been a god send, however like anything, there IS such a thing as too much of a god thing. For me, goals are a strength, a vice, and a weakness. Achieving them is like candy for the brain, obsessing over them, and the undying drive to achieve them is bad, VERY bad!
As I stand at the moment, I am on 3,876 for the year, so my immediate mindset is , "I must do 124 miles next week". Not, it would be nice to, but I MUST!! Achievable? Very much so, not a tough ask at all. Sensible to do yet another 100+ week, maybe less so.
Immediately after that is 4,250, my mileage goal for this year. 16 days of the year left, 124+250, would be nice to finish my annual goal before the end of the month.
Why you ask, I have no idea, it is all just part of this obsession with mini goals, and setting close to unrealistic targets.
We are on Day 196 of the year, there are 166 days left in the year, but for some reason, my mind, my ego, my destructive obsession almost demands it is done in one tenth of that time. Because it would be "good" to.... Where is the logic in that?
This isn't the first time I have called myself out on this bullshit, and probably won't be the last. Issue I have is finding the balance between realistic, and achievable goals, and pushing too hard to somehow please others in my mind. Looking back over the last month, I have done much better with rest days, easier weeks etc, so I need to keep up that trend. While at the same time, getting my head out of my arse, and focusing on the positives, and finding the time to enjoy myself , while at the same time achieving sensible goals.
Add to this all, the running training too, and it is becoming a delicate balance right now.
I have put a stop to my cycling training for the time being, as it was becoming a little too much for my body. My priority right now, when thinking straight is to get up to my 10km run goals, then work from there. Trying not to start setting too many running goals, as it will just start the whole destructive mindset all over again. But I know the 10km non stop runs are within reach now. Add to this, I have been accepted for a half marathon for next year, I know I need to work on extended range for running. Pace is key!
For both running an riding, I have managed to realise now that pace is everything. Not so much speed, speed, speed, but more cadence, HR, and pace relative to those. Push too hard, endurance is gone. It's not a race, it's a journey, as they say.
So, long may the journey continue.
Thanks for reading :)
Monday, June 18, 2018
When the old forum started to die off, one of the biggest complaints was that people were having their posts edited, moved, and condensed into other older, sometimes unrelated threads. Today a perfectly good thread, asking for advice has been merged into a cutesie little thread.
Sure no forum wants 20 threads about the same sort of thing, but sometimes it's needed. Sometimes people who participated in the older thread, and are done with it, see it pop up again, and just ignore it. Leaving poor Dave's new post out in the wilderness where no one cares about it. Had the new thread he started been left, and left with the title he posted it with, someone might have bothered to read it.
In turn, they may have replied, and a whole new conversation would be started. But alas, for some (who insist on maintaining control, and not being able to leave things alone for five minutes) this is all too much, and it needs sorting out. Topic title changes, moved into a sub-forum you may or may not subscribe to, and merged into oblivion. Poor Dave, he only wanted some advice on a nice Chinese to use!
Of course, if it is ANOTHER BLOODY COFFEE SHOP, it immediately deserves two things. It's own thread, and a test of the all important "flat white"!
Things which are not relevant to the area are not permitted, after all, who wants to just chat with locals. General Chatter was always one of the busiest forums on the forums I ran, but this is apparently not welcome in local forums these days, unless of course it one of the items on the agenda to ram down peoples throats.
Politics have no place on a community forum in my opinion. Of course they will pop up from time to time in conversation, and it can delicately be put that its not the place to delve into it.
However some feel it is appropriate the tout local politics all over a local forum, maybe even dominate the forum with political views. Of course, we are all entitled to an opinion, and once stated, that is all that is needed. Full on debate however..... overkill!
Forum killer in fact. Drawing out the anger and intent in some, provocation to use stronger and stronger language. Where does it all end? Well I will tell you where..... With the final say of the person who can, and usually will close the thread after having their say.
Or in some cases, posts will be edited or removed if they cause too much upset, or are damaging to reputations (for some at least)
Watching on from afar, recent posts about a local political meetings which were disrupted, it is easy to see the same pattern once again. People speaking out against the thread author (and forum owner) , and one by one being shot down by the posting of Wiki pages, links to news stories (which support the post) and comments berating and belittling those daring to have an opposing opinion.
Point this out, and it is either denied, or you are attacking the owner.
Most threads ending with the post being moved to another section of the forum where many fear to tread, not wishing to get tangled up in political venom, but preferring to keep topics light and local.
So, I want to put this nicely, and as unbiased as possible.
I know you want the forums to succeed, I believe you when you say you love the area you live in, and want to see what is best for it. (even if your actions contradict your words at times)
So, a message from an ever growing group of people (not a movement against you!)
Please stop being overwhelming and overpowering on the forum. To succeed it needs space, room to breathe, and people to be allowed to express themselves freely. In the actual definition of the word, not the one you consider to be the right version.
Everything is NOT political, remove politics from the forum.
All the hidden "opt in" forums make the landing page of the forum look dead, as well as pretty dull.
Here is a challenge. Step back, give it a month, trust the other moderators, let it do its thing.
Do you not see that time and time again, people post saying they feel something is overpowering the forum, and instead of listening, you shout. Shouting people down, telling them you know better. But all the while it is those people who make the forum what it is. Show some respect.
Only today two users have been blasted for simply saying they disagree with the way certain posts come across.
I know you think this is personal, I know you think I want the forum to die, but you could not be further from the truth if you tried. I simply don't like you or the way you treat the users. As well as users on other platforms too.
So that's that, I can't be more honest really.
The local forums have done some great things, great minds have been thrust together, and peoples problems solved. But right now, it is neither friendly nor welcoming, especially to the casual observer.