Tag Archive: Friends


This morning saw my old mucker Nigel and I head out on the bikes.  Now to be fair I have been putting in the miles in training (or so I thought) and was expecting a decent wee performance from myself.  As we pulled up at our starting point, the Scarva tea rooms, the fog was present and the temperature cold – 1 degree cold!

Nigel looking like a pro in his new HTC top hit the first mile like a bullet from a gun and naively I thought this was going to be short lived but after mile 5 I began to fear it wasn’t.  Using the scenery to distract myself I pushed on.  The sun was rising and the mist off the canal made for a very beautiful set of surroundings.  The dew covered the many spider webs surrounding us making the ground look like a patchwork quilt. The beauty was outstanding!

Portadown fast approached and I was delighted to hear Nigel agree to my suggestion of a wee break. I jumped of the bike and beat the magic beans into me hoping for something miraculous.  Meantime a solitary rower passed us on the canal and I was wondered if I could swap activity with her.  Nigel took a photo (above) and back on the bikes we climbed.  As we approached the footbridge a half a mile out of Portadown Nigel was talking faster than my wheels were turning and he took his eye off the ball. He took the corner too tight and the handrail of the bridge clipped his hip.  Off came Nigel still talking and thankful to say no damage was done. 14 miles came up and we were roughly at the half way point. I beat a banana down me and was praying the coffee shop which was showing signs of opening would draw Nigel’s attention but no we moved on.

By this stage my legs were showing the first signs of weakening and yet my ears reported hearing Nigel come off with the idea of doing a bit of interval training.  In denial I watched as he put his bike in a top gear and took off like bat out of hell. My legs choked and a response was not given.  Here was my first lesson of the morning.  Solo training is ok but really only if you discipline yourself to push hard.  No surprise then given my previous post on discipline that my month of solo riding was not delivering for me; on reflection it lacked the ingredients of challenge, speed and strength.

The last 4 miles my legs were close to absent and as we returned to Scarva I was grinding to all but a halt.  I’ve done 30 miles recently so why was this one so hard? On reflection this week has been half term with the kids off school and my diet has been ropey underlining yet another lesson from a previous post.  I need to eat better if I want to ride better.

When we stopped and packed the bikes away it was music to my ears to hear Nigel’s suggestion of getting some coffee.  It was an excellent morning which has left me hungry for more.  I need to address my fitness urgently and more importantly not because I feel I have to but because this morning has left me with the feeling that I want to. There is a night and day difference between the two and with that as my motivation I’m on the winning side of the equation.

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Recently I have been getting excited about the release of Noel Gallagher’s new debut album.  I’ve been avidly keeping an eye out for any interviews he’s given and any pre-release stuff in general.  It’s not like me and I’m not sure why this time and with this album.  In fact the more I think about it the last time I got this interested in a new album before its release was U2’s “Rattle & Hum”.  How long ago was that lol…

On Facebook I happened to mention this on an occasion or two and also happened to mention my lament at my decision not to purchase it.  Truth be told I’ve spent way too much on cycling of late and with Christmas coming I need to slow down on the expenditure.

The mail arrived on Tuesday like any other day and I noticed a padded envelope with my name on it.  Strange I thought as I haven’t ordered anything.  Filled with a sudden excitement and curiosity I opened it and there and behold was Noel Gallagher’s new album.  There was no note with it, nothing.  It was all I could do to boot the PC up and give it a listen…

Now truth be told an old mate recently and randomly asked for my postal address and so I figured out who had sent it.  The fact is I haven’t seen this lad in over 18 months.  What a friend and what a cool example of a random act of kindness.  I’m not for a minute suggesting we all start buying each other music but I think we could all take a leaf out of his book and support each other with something other and more than the odd word on Facebook.  In this respect I know I need to sort my act out!

Last night our eldest said “I think I’m starting to like U2 what songs would you recommend”.  Where does one start? U2 whilst not my most favourite band are certainly one of my favourites.  Throughout the past 25 years I’ve listened to most of their albums more times than I care to mention.  So in response to the request I quickly put a wee playlist of 20 together where I tried to stay away from the usual radio hits.

I was glad to get the feedback today that he loved such classics as “The Unforgettable Fire” and their version of “Satellite of Love”. On the way home from school he selected “Zooropa” and boy did the memories come flooding back like a massive tsunami!  I could hear myself share the memories of seeing them playing live in Dublin– ZOO TV anyone?  The opening moments of the concert were we seen the silhouette of Bono doing some kind of one legged dance whilst smoking a cigar.   The many BIG TV screens with the words swiftly changing across them alongside bits of historic film.  These are just two memories of what was a magical night in 1992.

 One memory I won’t forget was when we sneaked home across the border under blankets in the back of a mate’s estate car.  We had somewhere between 7 and 9 people on board that night if memory serves me correctly and we were scared of getting caught.  With the troubles very much still in operation what the army would have thought and done should they have found us? It would have probably landed us with a few hours of interrogation.

I remember as teenager going to see various bands and thinking tonight’s a night I’ll share with my kids and grandkids… little did I know how soon the story telling would come along.  If there is a lesson to be learnt here I think it’s in noting how fast life passes us by.  Time to get out and do a bit more living me thinks!!

8 Old Lads in Lycra…

So this morning before dawn I headed down of the mountain and into the big smoke called Belfast.  The rain was heavy and the roads were flooding. It was 7am and having been on the road for 40 minutes the time for me to meet up with my cycling buddies was fast approaching. According to the plan three of us were going to meet up for a gentle ride as two of our number including myself had fitness concerns due to recent chest colds etc. The rain continued to pelt down as the spray from the car in front frosted my windscreen and my destination drew closer.  In the darkness of my car the phone broke the silence and number 1 of the group suggested that the weather was against us and the best option was to stay indoors.  Sleep was heavy in his voice and it wasn’t too hard to guess where he was going as soon as he hung the phone up.  Having spent 45 minutes in the car I was keen to do something and so I put the pressure on the other member to at least provide a cup of tea and a place to watch the rugby (England vs. Scotland) He only to quickly agreed to the suggestion meaning he too could avoid the weather and a cracker time was had by all.  It was great having a few laughs with him and his family whilst munching on a few bacon sarnies, the catch up was long overdue.

However on the way home I seen a sight that taught me a lesson.  It was 8 old lads in Lycra on their bikes in the rain and cover from head to foot with smiles & laughter.  Old boys in Lycra have such a lot to teach the world.  They know how to live the dream and they don’t let anything get in the way!!  They don’t care what you think they look like and they don’t let the weather or time of the year get in the way of their enjoyment.  I hope I can grow up to be one, here’s to the rebels in Lycra!

This week has seen my return to training. Even with a heavy cold I managed three sessions.  Basically I’ve had about 6 weeks off and since Easter I have slowly and steadily been putting weight back on.  My mates Nigel (aka Webber) & Jeremy have been a real encouragement to me to back on the bike.  As usual one of the outcomes of a prolonged absence from cycling is a lack of confidence.  I’ve been battling with it for a few weeks whilst taking small steps towards getting back to healthy eating & regular exercise.  This week I grasped the nettle and got on my turbo trainer and also did some very light weights.

It felt good to get back on the horse so to speak.  My eating has been far from perfect but I have to say I’m feeling a heck of a lot better for the three sessions I trained this week.  Bring it on…