bikling

keithlard's one-step weight loss programme

Here is my famous one-step weight loss programme that I have invented. It is this:

  1. Do a lot of bikling.

It is not working at the moment as unfortunately I am addicted to BEER. It would be all right if the only beer you could get is fizzy dishwater like Carlsberg or Fosters, but now that I know delicious posh beer such as Leffe, Duvel, Erdinger, Bitburger, Etalon and Orval exists, I cannot stop drinking it.

And as you know BEER is a gateway drug to such as CURRY, which is fattening and bad for you (at least the nice ones are). Also SNACKS eg popcorn, pistachio nuts ekcetera. So basically I am not losing any weight at all even though I am cycling over 100,000 miles a day.

It does not matter though if you are having fun. I chatted to the sweet girl that works on the checkout in Tescos, she seems really intellergent and nice eg the type of person that you could talk to about stars and birds and PHYSICKS, I never know about that type of thing though in case people are not intrested. Most people are not.

I think if you do not read any papers or know about any pop groups, like me, there is a lot of left over space in your head for thinking about Go and LISP and phillersophy and genes and the Moon and children’s sweets from the 1970s and such. Unfortunately it has also used up the space reserved for making small talk with pretty girls which is why I usually find myself either uncharacteristically silent or suddenly blurting out something like ‘Imagine if we were like snakes and you could dislocate your jaw and swallow a whole chicken at once! That would be mental!’

It is usually at this point that I’m asked to leave the store by security.

Quite a few glasses of quite a few drinks

I went round to see my old friend Donald in Barnet, and he cooked a traditional Scotto-Chinese dinner of haggis, neeps, and stir-fried vegertables, which was delicious! Then we had a game of Go (I lost), and I played his 11-year-old son at Chess (I won - though I did feel a bit like the Competitive Dad from the Fast Show, punching the air and shouting ‘Yes!!’) We had some tasty Belgian beers and talked about Lisp and psychedelic music ekcetera.

So it was a great evening, the only weird thing was I cycled up there against a fierce headwind, by the time I came back the wind had backed 180 degrees (or pi radians if you are a computer) and was blowing the other way! All of which had the disconcerting and topographically unlikely effect of being uphill all the way there, and all the way back.

I am starting to develop some legs though, all cyclists know this feeling that you start to actually enjoy taking on a hill, and instead of going all hot and wobbly and having a little rest halfway up, you power all the way up and then instead of freewheeling down the other side, you just change up a couple of gears!

I pedalled home on Friday night after quite a few glasses of quite a few drinks at the Pineapple, with the cheerful invincibility that only comes from advanced intoxication. It is a long pull up Archway Road to Highgate station, but I do not think I paused for breath and it was only when I got off at Tescos in Finchley that I realised my lungs were burning and little lights were flashing in front of my eyes.

So my secret strategy if I ever go in for the Tour de France or something like that is to just get enormously drunk beforehand. King of the Mountains! I do not know why no one else has thought of that.

Things that happened

Well I decided I have been spending too much time in front of the computer doing electronick things, so I went out today in the sunshine and had a very cheerful day. I bikled down to the reservoir again (where I got the super pictures of swans ekcetera before) and did lots more photergraphy. So there will be pictures later. I saw our friend the pochard again, and even got some long-lens surveillance shots of the shy and retiring great crested grebe.

I took the opportunity to try out the super camera backpack I bought from my friend Mike. It has a regular backpack area, but also a separate watertight compartmint with foam padding and dividers for your camera and lenses and all the little rings, filters, batteries, flashcards, wotsits, doodads, and gewgaws that photographers seem to insist on carrying around. It is specially meant for people who like cycling and also like photography, and like cycling on their cycle to places where they can take photographs. And have a back. It is almost like they know me (or my friend Mike).

Anyway it is a magic backpack as although it looks a regular size on the outside, it is massive inside and has got room for a DSLR, 18-55mm lens, 30mm lens, 70-200mm lens, monopod, macro set, 2 litre bottles of finest wheat beer, a baking potato, a bag of ready-made salad, 2 packets of mini poppadoms, a cheesy roll, warm gloves, emergency Google “I’m feeling lucky” T-shirt, a packet of Penn State pretzels, and David Guterson’s Snow Falling On Cedars. So that is jolly good as by chance that is exactly the things that I needed to carry in it today.

It was a lovely evening down by the water and I spent hours admiring the birds dipping and cavorting, incarnadined by the dying rays of vermilion sun (good writing). There was swans and coots and mallards and the aforementioned pochard and grebe and tufted ducks and moorhens and herring gulls and Canada geese and crows and blackbirds. So it does not get any better than that really.

Bikesploring

Well as I have given my bike its Spring Cleaning I thought I should probably get it dirty again. If there is one thing that engenders deep suspicion in the cycling fraternity it is a nice clean shiny bike. It is a bit like those people that have a really expensive bike hanging on the wall of their immaculate designer flat, and you know in your heart that they never take it down, or indeed dream of soiling their crisp, dazzlingly white yachting trousers.

I went on a big adventure down the Dollis Brook where there is all sorts of birds, trees, and especially MUD. This is Hendon Lane Weir where the Dollis flows underneath the Great North Way and you can bikle through a sinister dark passage into a mystical land of wonder, populated by unicorns. (I did not see any of these in fact, so the guide book may be out of date.)

Some super Canada geese that I saw. It is grainy cameraphone photos sorry, as I did not bring the real camera and I do not have magic computer eyes like the Terminator. This is a shame in several respects.

This is a pond near Bell Lane with wizzo coots and moorhens ekcetera, the brilliant thing about this is that you can enjoy the peaceful idyll of the lake ruffled only by gentle zephyrs (good writing) while a few feet away, hundreds of cars and lorries thunder past along the North Circular completely unaware that any of this is here. In a way I suppose that is why it has not been built all over.

The most curious things end up stuck in a weir! This is a shopping trolley if you cannot tell. Obviously someone was walking home with their weekly shop and was just overcome with fatalistic or existential thoughts and realised, what is the point of it all basically? So they chucked the trolley in the river and went home. I feel like that some days.

I do not know what this is, but have decided it is a sinister witch’s cottage. There are a few clues which give it away to a trained eye, eg traces of gingerbread, but the main one is probably the sinister witch (not pictured).

The river path goes down about as far as where the A502 Brent St crosses over the North Circular, and from there you can bikle along the pavement as far as the dystopian concrete lacework of the Brent Cross Flyover. There our journey must end as it is the gateway to Brent Cross itself where only horror, madness, and surprising winter bargains await.

High above the North Circular itself at the Brent St junction. I was on the pedestrian footbridge in fact although it would be great if I had a magical flying bicycle like E.T. For one thing it would represent a considerable saving on tyre wear, and possibly get me closer to Drew Barrymore.

Your intrepid correspondent. On the way back I took an intresting detour via the River Brent up to Henleys Corner and the muddiest path I have ever found! It was flooded out in some places and the surrounding grass was heavily waterlogged; at several points I was pedalling super slowly in bottom gear and the back wheel was still sliding and sliding. It is a good job I was wearing my nice new Caterpillar boots (do not laugh it is obvious they are not made out of caterpillars; that would create more problems than it solved) as I had to get off and push the bike through lakes of mud occasionally. When I got back there was no question of even bringing the bike indoors; I had to get a bucket of soapy water and wash it down outside for fear of basically redecorating my flat in mud.

I had a super day out though!

They're happy because they eat mud

I went out bikling today! Because it is super weather. I have put on lots of weight over Xmas due to sossidges, and other nice foods, so I really need some proper exercise, and up till now it has been rainy and horrid. Today it was lovely and sunny though so I felt brave, brushed all the cobwebs and skellingtons off my bicycle, pumped up the tyres, and zoomed off to Coppetts Wood the nature reserve.

It was wizzo fun! Cycling is the second most enjoyable way to elevate your heart rate, and certainly the muddiest. I discovered various ponds, sekrit paths, and some leafy glades ekcetera, and I noticed some birds! It turns out I am not even as unfit as I thought although I did go into VF a couple of times. Luckily I saw on Blue Peter how to make a portable defibrillator out of two sink plungers, some sticky-backed plastic and a 9 volt battery (get a grown up to help you with this).

It is great as getting started is the hardest bit of anything, and I have dreaded getting started bikling again. Now I will be able to lose lots of pounds and look all lean and toned like Daniel Craig and fit into my super new clothes!

I am just relaxing with a freshly squeezed orange and mango juice drink, and then I am going to go and hose a substantial amount of nature reserve off my bike.

Parkland Walk III: Revenge of the Sith

It’s Finsbury Park! This is where the Parkland Walk comes to an end sadly but it is a beautiful park and ideal for zooming round on your bike.

It is illegal to visit Finsbury Park without popping in to see London’s only purpose-built computerised 24-hour cycle parking facility. It is just at the back of the railway station and you get a little swipe-card which enables you to park and retrieve your bike there any time of day or night for the magnificent sum of 50p. It is great really as if you have ever paid to park your car in London you will know it’s blooming expensive.

I was shown all around and how to work it by Niroj, London’s most helpful parking attendant. He said a lot of people have figured out that it pays them to cycle into Finsbury Park, lock the bike up here and then get the tube the last bit into work as 50p for parking is a lot less than the extra zones would cost on a Travelcard. I quite like that idea except I have dispensed with the Tube stage altogether as luckily I live really near work!

So having registered at the cycle park and got my swipe-card (I do not really need to park my bike there at the moment, but it is handy to know I could, and also I think any sort of cycling facilities should be encouraged!) this is me relaxing with a refreshing pint at the Landseer pub with Matt. Cheers!

So in conclusion then, a wizzo day out bikesploring and roaming the byways of green and leafy secret London. Here is a picture of my leg to celebrate! :D

The Last Train

This is the diseased tube station at Crouch End where once upon a time gents in tall stovepipe hats and frock coats would have got out of a big puffing steam train and gone home for an rubber or two of whist with Mr Marjoribanks the district surveyor and Parsons the cheesemonger. I do not know of course, that is just my imagination. Anyway it is diseased now and nothing remains except the platforms, and some cheerful people with bikes and dogs.

Or in my case just bike.

It is amazing as the graffiti that covers all the bridges and walls en route is far more exciting and colourful than anything the council could dream up to attract people for a family day out along London’s heritage-rich Parkland Walk. It is like being in some post-apocalyptic urban dystopia (good writing).

The winding path through Queen’s Wood in Highgate, as it would have looked in a faded old sepia toned Victorian type autoluminograph (not really of course it is just me playing about). I was having a lot of super fun as it is a beautiful area of ancient woodland and full of history ekcetera, and great for bikling through on a cheery summer day. It would be a bit different though if it was soaked in sinister inky twilight and full of rogues lurking behind every tree, or if a deadly strangler was roaming the wood.

There is not though so here I am relaxing at the start of the official Parkland Walk, abandon hope all ye who enter here and no motorbikes.

Journeys into the past by bicycle

I have been having a wizzo time lately just heading out on my bike and going hither, thither and whither I will. It is the perfect part of London for bikesploring, as there are lots of green spaces and old footpaths and such as rivers and woods ekcetera.

Obviously the perfect bike trail should match the following criteria:

  1. NO CARS
  2. Not too hilly
  3. Opportunity for wizzo views
  4. Trees and flowers
  5. Birds
  6. Rivers and ponds
  7. Starts near my house
  8. Ends near a pub

I have found quite a few places like this, as a lot of the paths and bridleways that I walk around are also good for bikling. Yesterday I discovered a sekrit passage that goes up the back of the Vue cinema at the Finchley Leisureplex & Temple of Consumerism, over a recreation ground thing with some intresting birds, past the Glebe nature reserve, through a couple of sleepy back streets, and into the Coppetts Wood nature reserve where there are wizzo woods and a girl and I once took some pictures of old sewerage pipes and sat in a glade.

Today I was looking at Underground History an amazing trove of arcana about the London Underground which is great, except I read “Disused Stations on London’s Underground” as “Diseased Stations on London’s Underground”. I was jolly disappointed as I thought there might be rage-infected Tube stations like on 28 Days Later. There is a good bit though about the Northern Heights ie where I live, and the old steam train line from Alexandra Palace via Highgate to Finsbury Park. It was never electrified and eventually the track was taken up and the line abandoned. It’s now a super leafy footpath with deer and hedgehogs!

So I will be having an experdition there and also there was a line from Mill Hill East to Edgware which is now a path, and I bikled along that today. It was great! It is like a sekrit passage like in Narnia or one of those movies, except not a cupboard. It goes through some green and sun-dappled woods, along the back of some football pitches, past the sports centre and up to the main road where it stops abruptly. There was once a pedestrian subway but it is bricked up, and someone has sprayed ‘JESUS LOVES YOU’ in big letters on it. Cross the road, looking both left and right for oncoming traffic, and enter Rowlands Close, where the path sidles casually out through an undistinguished-looking brick alley and into a housing estate.

Then I took the other path back across Hendon Golf Course, through a copse full of flowers and butterflies, over an abandoned concrete lot that looks like a decommissioned nuclear bunker, up the back of the allotments and suddenly arrived at the A1! And so back up along the brook, past the children’s playground and through the little park where people sit and chat on the benches and look at birds.

Matt pointed out that I must be nearing the top Google results for ‘curry’, as we sat eating curry. I should get some kind of lifetime supply of curry, or something. Curry!

Keithlard goes bikling

As part of essential investment in plant and equipment for Project Hott, I bought myself a bike :D

It is this bike:

The man at the shop was super helpful and friendly, and with his advice and Steve’s I got all the right accessories including lights, a big badass lock, Pitlock skewers that stop you taking the wheels off without the key, a garishly coloured helmet, and a special saddle that is electronically coded to my personal arse! OK not that last one. But hopefully it will not be nicked, even though I am too nervous to leave it anywhere out of my sight, so it is probably coming to bed with me later!

I have woken up with a few strange bed companions in my time, though most of them were at least recognisably human.

So I bikled back home from work, and it only took 0 hours and 25 minutes! That is super quick really as it takes longer by tube. And it was uphill. I am hugely unfit obviously but I did not find it too bad, so that is encouraging.

They were great at the shop and tuned up the bike and fitted all the accessories for free, and I get a free service after a month. So everyone should get all their bikes and bikling accessories from Jason at Cycle Surgery in Camden. That concludes this commercial messidge.

Now I am relaxing with a cold beer and Indian snacks! So it was a good day all around really.