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Posts tagged ‘bicycle’

Photos and rare footage from Woodhill

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Husband surfs a thermal

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Speedfreak

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Husband dodges charging pinecone. Don’t be fooled by the fingers on the brakes – there is no evidence (photographic or otherwise) of him EVER pressing them into service for anything other than hanging his helmet from

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See, Husband does occasionally smile. Think he mistook the camera for a trick flower

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Here, Husband is smiling because The Bro had just headbutted the ground. Not sure why The Bro is looking so pleased with himself – probably relieved he didn’t dent his head

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The Bro negotiates a twiglet

As usual, there are no photos of me – BUT! As a special treat, there is VIDEO FOOTAGE.

Deadlyjelly confuses diving for cycling. Note how Husband’s camera never wavers, maintaining his artistic integrity throughout

Deadlyjelly demonstrates how to pull knickers out of arse without anyone noticing

And one of The Bro in a rare, almost (but not quite) uncool moment, getting taken out by a seesaw

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Interpreting the wave

People wave to you when you are on a bicycle. There are different types of wave. There’s the Thank god that’s not me wave. There’s the Hey there, I have a bike in my garage, bond with me wave. The Heeey baby I drive a flash car and my wife doesn’t understand me wave. The I’m so insecure I don’t even indicate without waving wave.

And then there’s the Sorry I nearly killed you wave.

Like in the case of the woman today, who was so excited about turning right she completely failed to notice the break in traffic was not really a break if my wobbling up the hill on a bike qualifies as ‘traffic’ (singular). Which it does – or at least did the last time I checked the Highway Code. Specifically, I am what is known as ‘other traffic’ (singular) despite my inability to produce fumes or hold up anything larger than a hedgehog.

Halfway across my right of way, she slammed on her brakes, leaving most of her tyres on the road; then scorched past half a millimetre in front of me.

Then she waved.

And I just don’t know whether Sorry I nearly killed you through my own inattentiveness/ignorance by knocking you down and driving over you and crushing your head with my tyre rendering a scene of such gruesomeness that television crews turn away from the bloody carnage to focus on your heartbreakingly flimsy helmet still spinning poignantly in the centre of the road is adequately covered by a wave.

More appropriately, she should have stopped and offered to call an ambulance to treat me for shock and inhalation of rubber fumes. Or at least offered to reimburse me the cost of a new pair of knickers

Dispatches from the road, Part II

Me: You know that Irish bloke with the bike – the one I was chatting to outside? So, I asked him whether it was true that cyclists hate motorbikers-

Husband: IS that true?

Me: No, I was just making conversation with a challenging opening gambit. Anyway, he said not at all; but when he’s a pedestrian he hates cyclists because they take over the pavement. He actually used the word ‘cocky’, can you believe that?

Husband: Um-

Me: Anyway. I told him it’s because cyclists wear so much lycra. It makes them aggressive because it squeezes bits it shouldn’t. And he looked at me and said, ‘It wha?’

Me: So I said, you know, the lycra. Makes you funny in the head. And he said, ‘WHA?’ So I’m getting a bit desperate; I said, ‘You know: LYCRA. Like spandex?’ and he said, ‘Oh sorry love, I’m not a one for the fads and fashions.’

Husband: That’s called: how to kill a conversation with one clean shot

Me: Bullseye

It’s Buckingham Palace, cretin

Victoria Memorial

Last Sunday, Tim and I participated in the London Freewheel, the second largest cycling event in Europe. It was one of those things I always considered doing when I lived in London, but never did. The centre of the city was closed to traffic from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London.

Minor setback: I didn’t have a bike. I was tasked with making enquiries about renting one, but I forgot. Crap, isn’t it? A writer, and the best excuse I can come up with is: I forgot. At least it’s the truth, which in this instance I will now attempt to present as ‘refreshing’.

The day before the event, Tim stood outside talking to his neighbour. Michael was attired in t-shirt and a spectacularly unflattering pair of cycle shorts. I mean, really. The Stretchy Lycra Brigade talk about cycling shorts being padded and comfortable, as if that is a valid excuse for wearing them.

ANYWAY, I didn’t fail to notice that Michael was propped against a mountain bike, so after spending some time getting acquainted, I asked if I could borrow it.

“Hi, I’m Niamh.”

“Michael-”

“Nice to meet you. HEY, any chance I could borrow your bike tomorrow?”

“Errr, I suppose. What was your name again?”

Later, I said to Tim:-

“Michael, nice guy. How long have you known him?”

“Ah, that was the first time we’ve met.”

The day was gorgeous. Tim and I cycled across Clapham Common and picked up our fluorescent bibs and armbands at the corner. Since it was a designated access point, a route to the city had been laid out along back roads. We were in a group of fluorescent people and held up the traffic for miles.

Tim; image courtesy SkySport: thanks a million.

The Brits being British, they turned out in their best suits: Wonder Woman ignored her powers of flight in favour of more conventional transport; there was a gladiator and a couple of bears; many bicycles featured bunting and foliage.

Image courtesy SkySport: thanks again.

After cycling three quarters of an hour, we came through a pair of ornate gates, beside which stood a huge fountain. Some bronze statues reclined on the bottom, overlooked by a couple of bland, marble figures, all topped by a gold figure frozen on the brink of a suicide leap.

“What is this?” I asked Tim.

He looked at me in horror: “It’s BUCKINGHAM PALACE,” he said, appalled.

Indeed, when I looked back over my left shoulder, there was a queen-sized structure.

“You might not recognise it,” continued Tim, “it’s only the most famous landmark in Britain.”

“I thought that was London Bridge?”

We cycled down The Mall to Trafalgar Square, down Northumberland Avenue to Embankment and all the way along to London Bridge and the Tower of London. It was a unique way to view all the major sights of the city: Whitehall, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

On the route back, Tim and I stopped in St James’s Park for 99s and spent time with a few of the 50,000 cyclists that took part.

St James’s Park

London Eye, from the park

Admiralty Arch

Onlooker

Happy birthday to me

Husband claimed that, due to the time difference, my birthday didn’t start until 11:00am yesterday, but he gave me my presents anyway. He took me shopping on Monday and I chose the new book by Marian Keyes and ‘On Chesil Beach’ by Ian Mcewan. In honour of my great and ancient age, I also picked out a knitting book, some needles and balls of wool. These gifts came with a signed guarantee that Husband would wear anything I produced. Foolishly, he failed to insert a subclause that they had the requisite number of holes and were within striking distance of two sizes.

If you are looking for a husband, do try and choose one who gets anxious that you don’t have enough presents. In fact, Husband was so concerned about the scarcity of giftage – despite my protesting that he’d got me more than enough of just what I wanted – he drove into town the day before to bolster the birthday offering with two DVDs, and a bottle holder and mudguards for my bicycle.

After the gift ceremony, the sun came out. Husband affixed my bottle holder and front mudguard and we went cycling. I’ve never been concerned about the skidmarks administered by the back tyre, but the mud and small twigs splatting onto my glasses was always distracting – especially when trying to negotiate a bank or predatory bush. The new front mudguard effectively abbreviated the mud, and is high enough that trees don’t get stuck in it (that much).

We returned home to find my bridesmaid dress in the post from Róis. Over the last week, she has engaged in some alarmingly un-Róisín-like pre-wedding stress over whether she should get my dress in size 10 or 12. The outlet’s size guide on the Net indicated that size 10 was perfect around the bust and hips, but no matter how much I sucked or how tight I pulled, my waist resolutely refused to conform to 68cm. Róis and I had several emergency phone calls about the issue, and eventually I instructed her to get the size 12 on the grudging hypothesis that it could be taken in if necessary. Róis evidently knew I was conflicted about it, because she got the size 10 – and it fits. Perfectly. Well, it had to on my birthday, didn’t it? Lucky it arrived when it did.

My second family all called and the Outlaws in South Island Skyped and sang me Happy Birthday with party hats on. I was so touched I would have cried except I was laughing too hard.

Later that evening, Husband and I went for dinner at The Hangar. We cooked our food on stone slabs heated to 400˚ and didn’t singe ourselves once. Then Husband took me to see The Incredible Hulk (I would like to hastily point out that it was at my request; Husband is not that romantic on his own initiative). It wasn’t the best movie ever but it was fun.

Turning 36 was pretty cool

Dancing in the New Year

On New Years Eve, we took Raff and Carole up on their totally spontaneous offer to host a party. They are one of the first to take up residency on The Palm Island Jumeirah, on the ‘trunk’ of The Palm. They bought a fifth level apartment (technically the fourth floor, since the ground floor is level 1).

The Palm is still largely a construction site, an aural cacophony of drilling, hammering, revving, piling, beeping and scraping. But Raff and Carole’s apartment looks out on an expanse of sea with the Burj Al Arab in the distance and Sheikh Mohammed’s private island in the foreground. If you squint out their living room window, beyond the scum at the waters edge and heaps of construction detritus, you can really see the potential.

The party was on New Years Eve and we didn’t fancy our chances of catching a taxi later in the evening. Raff and Carole offered us their sofa (presumably for sleeping on and as limited to their premises) but, although we packed bedding and toiletries, Husband was not mad keen. After a stressful evening of self abuse there is no substitute for falling into your bed. It HEALS you: slumber is more even, the hangover less vicious and – let’s face it – it’s always preferable to drool into your own pillow.

“We could always walk home,” said Husband.

“It’s ten kilometers!”

“Ah, come on now,” said My Beloved (this being one of his favourite expressions since Raff, Carole and I tortured him with Father Ted screenings for weeks on end). “It’s probably not more than six.”

“I’m not bloody walking,” I said. “Tell you what though. I could cycle.”

“Great idea! And I could run.”

“Run?”

“Yes.”

“RUN?”

“Yes, run. As in jog. To put one foot in front of the other, quite fast.”

I didn’t say anything as he packed my bike into the back of the car, followed by his running shoes and shorts. I figured he would probably be incapable of STANDING at the end of the night, never mind putting one foot in front of the other, quite fast.

When we arrived at Raff and Carole’s, Husband bonded with the beer while I got stuck into the margharitas. We spent most of the evening on the balcony which was lit up with fairy lights and candles and was unspeakably charming until it was gate crashed by mosquitoes. They were like armadillos with wings.

We repaired inside, where Raff put on ‘Finding Nemo’ to demonstrate the quality of their new plasma screen. One of their friends, who was blitzed when she arrived, had for some reason been talking about tap dancing. Carole and Husband were drunkenly exhorting her to shake her funky stuff, and she was going: “No, no I couldn’t, no really – oh, alright then”.

She started dancing across the room, accompanied by herself and considerately giving us a tutorial as she went: “Tap-dancing is really just one move, where you TAP! the ball of your foot against the ground. It’s a shuffle, like this. So let me see – HAPPY FEET! I’VE GOT THOSE HAP-HAP-HAPPY FEET! Shuffle left, shuffle left, shuffle shuffle shuffle left – I CAN’T CONTROL THE DANCING DEAR TO SAVE MY SOOOOOUL! Shuffle right, shuffle right – THOSE WEARY BLUES CAN’T GET INTO MY SHOES!”

I understand she learned the routine when she was seven. There was something frankly disturbing about a grown woman singing ‘Happy Feet’ with that level of gusto – or any level of gusto, for that matter.

Meanwhile, Husband and I were engrossed in the gripping tale that is ‘Finding Nemo’, but this woman was tap-dancing across the screen, and we were bobbing our heads around trying to follow the action

“Are you watching?” she shouted.

“Absolutely,” said Husband, trying to see through her flailing arms, “but Marlin and Dory are about to go searching for Nemo and it’s a very tense moment. If you could just move to the left-“

“HAPPY FEEEEET!” she bawled. “You’re not WATCHING!”

“I am,” said Carole with a poker-straight face that made me see my friend in a whole new respectful light.

At around half two in the morning I was trying to scare away a slavering-fanged mosquito by pulling faces at it, with not a lot of success.

“Shall we go?” asked Husband, clearly fed up with the insane tap-dancing lady.

We said our goodbyes and, at the car, I donned the reflective jacket Danny gave me for Christmas while Husband swapped his shirt and trousers for singlet and running shorts. And then he started jogging, while I wobbled along behind him with my flashing rear light.

Husband started strongly, powering up the overpass towards Dubai Marina. I stopped every half a mile to text status updates to an incredulous Carole. The number of cars on the road at 03:00hrs on New Years Day was mad, although maybe they called their buddies when they saw us: “Hey, I’m not sure whether I’m drunk or . . . yeah but I’ve just passed this bloke JOGGING and . . . and there’s a bird behind him in an evening dress on a bicycle. Get down here and take a look.”

Husband was slowing down coming to Interchange 5, going slower and slower, and by the time we hit The Springs entrance he was practically in reverse. His knee had crapped out and he was starting to whine.

“Go on, Niamhie, give me a backie.”

“Shaw. I mean it. Step away from the bike.”

“Aww, come on!”

He attempted to forcibly hitch a lift but I was giggling too hard to cycle. Somehow he talked me into relinquishing my beloved bicycle and taking a backie. Since it’s a mountain bike, the crossbar is not level: from the handlebars it slopes down to the saddle support. Three seconds later I was firmly wedged in Husband’s sweaty crotch, getting rhythmically kicked by his sweaty knees.

We finally made it home at four o’clock in the morning in one piece – although I was severely dented in the left hip region

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