Monthly Archives: November 2010

Winter Hill

Pearl Izumi Base Layer

Team Winter tights

Team Winter Jacket


Pearl Izumi Am Fib Gloves

Buff on head

Buff on neck

Team Socks

Cycling Shoes

Neoprene overshoes


Temperatures today were zero centigrade.  I don’t think it actually rose above freezing point all day long.  It was dry in the South East though, so I kitted up and got in a couple of hours on the road bike.  Crisp, delightful pedal turning.  Not caring about the speed, the length or distance covered.  Not even worried about most of the time about which gears you are in.

Couldn’t help but smile to myself as climbing Winter Hill near Cookham Dean, with the frost still on the grass.  Very fitting.

Cold weather and photo inspiration

Ironic isn’t it?  After the last post about nothing beating the real thing in terms of music, I decide I should ride the bike a little bit.  Being that it is REALLY cold at the moment, the approach that I took was to grab the Tacx rollers, and set them up in front of the TV.  Rollers are great.  You have to keep the balance yourself – you are properly riding the bike.  Far less boring than turbo training.  You need a towel down though, because there is no air flow.

Cold weather makes me think of my other hobbies.  I was recently inspired by a different blog and the winter provides such great light for photography during the afternoon.

I cleaned my car and felt inspired.  Please click for hi resolution.

I had lusted after a BMW since my first ever trip to Germany in 1994.  We visited the BMW museum in Munich as part of a school trip, and that planted it for me.  My view of money though is such that I don’t want masses of cash sat around in a depreciating asset – so an older BMW was the way to go.  Someone else has lost most of the money that it cost new, while it continues to deliver 90% of what it did from the showroom.

The photographs are taken using a tri-pod, a Canon 1000D and long exposures to try to compensate for the low light levels.

The light at 4pm was great, I just had to drive around a bit to find a good location.  In the background of the first photo there are deer – these photos were taken in the car parks for Windsor Great Park.

The real thing

I have spent a lot of time recently trying to get ‘good’ sound out of my car stereo.  I listen to music in the car all the time.  It is nearly constantly on, and the pathetic system in the car was annoying me.  When I was about 16 I saved up what was a lot of money for me then and purchased a real hifi.  Real hifi is made up of separate components.  It doesn’t have bells and whistles and flashy lights.  Real hifi rarely has a ‘demo’ mode or dancing lights.  There will be no bloated bass over-riding the entire system.  It will be black or silver boxes, with minimal buttons.  Speakers will be solid and heavy.  They will sit on speaker stands which will be on spikes on the floor.  The speakers will be positioned away from the rear wall, and the listener will sit between the speakers in the sweet spot.

Cheap hifi, and my car has cheap hifi for expensive money, doesn’t have volume.  It has loudness.  You turn it up, it gets louder.  Loud and harsh.  The harshness of the highs and the muddiness of the bass will lose the melody and rhythm of the music.  Of course, you are watching the dancing lights, so are distracted from this! It will fatigue the listener though.

Spend a bit on even cheap proper hi-fi and what you get is something else.  Volume really is to do with the amount of music.  Turn up the volume and more music flows into the room.  Punchy and controlled, with crisp bass, mid and treble.

I don’t think the car will ever deliver this.  I am yet to find a system in a car which does.

So, playing and playing and playing with the sound in the car, I drove across London to go and see some friends.  We went to a gig, and there was an acoustic set (it was my friend’s band).  And oh my god….. forget recorded music…. it was amazing.  Nothing recorded will ever come close.


Right now I am in the temporary office sat at someone elses desk.  One of the women from the accounts department just came in to ask me when I will next be here, gave me a big hug and said that she hopes I come to the Christmas do.  It is nice to feel that you belong somewhere, isn’t it?  I have the same with my colleagues here most of the time that I am in the office.  People seem genuinely pleased to see me (and me them) and I suppose why shouldn’t they / we be?  I don’t think that they value my input any more or less with my not always being here, but people tend to show it more, and seize the moment in which to say things.  It is nice, and I am all for it.

While we are on the subject of belonging, I am coming to terms with having purchased ‘expensive’ luggage.  Traveling as I do means that you notice things and like anything there are must have brands for traveling.  Look out for the Tumi luggage next time you are in an airport.  Those are the people who fly a lot and are part of a club.  It is badges I suppose.

With this in mind, and being a fashion victim as I am when Lufthansa damaged my luggage I upgraded to something a bit better.  I can’t really comment on if it is worth the premium as I have not yet flown with the Rimowa case which I now have, however I now I an identifying label that I am not a tourist traveling! (I recognise that tourist may have this brand too).

Actually, what has struck me most about the case is how light it is.  That and a 5 year guarantee are a positive starting point.  The premium in that respect could well be worth it.  The previous case lasted about 2 years.

Opps, forgot about posting again

So I have been busy.  I rode bikes.  I crashed bikes.  I drank.  I locked keys in car.  I called the AA to break in.  I threw two dinner parties on two consecutive nights and then I flew to Germany.

I am sat in the office at the moment and it is hammering it down with rain.  I am about to go and meet with a bunch of colleagues to have dinner, but I am shattered.  I have been put on ‘new colleague’ duty for this week.  Actually, I know the guy quite well, having met him a few times.  I am glad he is joining us and it is nice talking him through the business, but god, it is shattering.

Add to that a hotel with a heating system drying out all water in sight (I wake up severely de-hydrated) and I am feeling a bit off colour.

I have also been moved.  We are having a new office built, and while that is underway they couldn’t justify my having my own desk here which I don’t use 80% of the time.  I am now working in the Pro Racing Team’s office.  There are bikes in here!  Actually a couple of ‘museum’ bikes – a World Championship winning machine and a German Championship winning machine.  It reminds me of why I am here, but it is kind of like working in a garage!

The Facebook Movie

Sorry, I mean film.  The Facebook Film.  I want to watch this with my mum a couple of nights ago.  Facebook is something which I use massively.  I love it.  It is as simple as that.  Why do I love it?  Well, in my position, it allows me to keep in touch very easily with a large number of people very easily.  I wouldn’t be in touch with as many people as I am now – people who I really value – people with whom I have recently met up with, who I wouldn’t have met up with – if it wasn’t for facebook.  I thank facebook for giving me that opportunity.  It allows me to learn about what my friends are up to, and more importantly emotional traumas they have been through and wish to share with their friends for support.  I know of no other platform which would allow me to do that.

The nature of my job means that at times I am quite lonely.  Lonely and alone, sitting in a hotel room somewhere.  I have friends though, and they come everywhere with me.  I chat to a lot of them online, I know what they are up to and when they will be around.  It is real friendship, and it means I never feel that far away.

The film was good.  It is told by the people who ‘won’ the lawsuits, so I have to take it all with a pinch of salt, but it is still worth going to see.  And let’s face it, you can’t really get around Facebook.  The Facebook generation is here.  People no longer swap phone numbers, but get their smartphones out of their pockets and instantly add each other (like I did in Korea the other day).  There is a whole new culture, and honestly, while being a complete time suck, it isn’t going to disappear soon.

November is here, and winter is coming

I rode today again.  Just got on my bike and headed for the nearest hill.  It was one of those days when it was cold outside, so you head for the hills to get a climb in your legs, and get your body temperature up.

It was a grey day.  It had clouded over from the sunny ‘it was lovely when I got up’ weather first thing.  Golden leaves were being blown off the trees and across the road.  For about 7 miles I saw only two cars.  Just pedalling, warm and toasty in my cool weather gear.

The terrain is relentless.  There is up or down.  No flats, and it appeals to the ‘rules’ of a good road ride for me.  These rules are that you have to have at least two leg burning, granny gear climbs in it.  One isn’t enough.  Leg burn should come twice.

Just really really enjoyable.

Zeals, Mere, The Deverils, Cut through to the Warminster / Shaftesbury Road, Shaftesbury, Gillingham, Milton on Stour, Bourton, Zeals.

Time Off, Fast Cars and Bicycles

I have taken a few days off, and am doing such exciting things as decorating the living room. Just white. Nothing exciting. But you get snow blind with it. In a room 3m x 5m, it really surprises me how long it takes!

Yesterday I decided to travel down to my parents’ house. Today is my birthday, and with The Pretty One being away I wanted to be back at my parents place. Also, I needed some work done on my car.

Now, I don’t really drive that much. I work from home, and I have no car when I am in Germany. My car will sit outside the house for days and days without being used. I do, however, enjoy cars and I like driving. From a early age, I knew every car on the road. It used to amaze me with one of my friends who thought of cars as just being cars. A generic thing, and not until he came around to buying one did he engage himself with the differences. I have a rather silly car – not economical to run, maintain or not even that practical. It is difficult getting bikes in it (fold down seats – which you don’t want to do with a beige leather interior – or use a rack) and being as I take a bike with me to most places that I go, it really is stupid. It is fun though. The 3 litre engine and the around 240 bhp see to that.

All of this flies in the face of the politics which I have surrounding cars. I think that we should use them less, and I think that such vehicles are excessive. I justify my car by arguing that it is more economical on a long drive that something a lot less powerful which has to try harder at speed. I also argue that I don’t use it that much. It is crap though, and I know it.

I have friends with even more ‘silly’ vehicles. One of which I borrowed for a couple of weeks earlier in the year. The other I drove yesterday. The other of which is pictured below.

An Aston Martin V8 Vantage – not his one, this is an 05, his is an 07.

What was it like? Well it was quick. I didn’t push it hard though, and I didn’t corner it anywhere near the limits. When my friend drove it, I was amazed at how well it went around corners. Given that it is 7 inches wider than a Ford Focus, this isn’t really that surprising. The noise was amazing, but I have to agree with my friend (the owner) with his disappointment at the interior. Parts borrowed straight from the Ford parts bin, with a Volvo sat nav and Mondeo indicator stalks. It just didn’t seem right on a £110k car! It detracts ‘slightly’. Not completely, but you wonder who would object to paying a few hundred more to have more solid feeling fittings.

Am I sold? Well, my lottery winning car would be an Aston Martin and still would be – just seems a lot classier than Ferarris, Lamborghinis or Porsche – although the latter is probably more likely to feature in my (distant) future if any of them.

I still had a lot of the day left, so I got on my road bike. I am in South West Wilts, and riding to Bruton and the hills surrounding Alfred’s Tower the lack of any cars just brought a big smile to my face. That is something you don’t get in the South East, and is a reason that I wont miss it that much when I leave.