Thursday, 21 April 2011

Hats - Prevention rather than cure?

I took my yearly trip along to Jermyn Street the other day, something I do at this of year in order to refresh the old wardrobe, loaded down with a considerable quantity of spondoolas crammed in the old back pocket. While the area is not what it used to be, it is still pretty much a one stop shop for the gentleman intent on a reasonable degree of sartorial style.

Spinning along Piccadilly, and dismounting opposite Fortnum's I spied another cycling chap rather strangely attired in a large while polo helmet and three-quarter-length pedal pusher type know the sort of thing?.....white trouser type things worn by girlies?

I have a faint horror of the three-quarter-length trouser worn by men over 12 years of age. What on earth possesses them? Horrid little spindly hairy legs protruding from the bottom of the said garment looking like a chicken ready for plucking. I rather think that the Metropolitan Police should be given powers to arrest on sight any male over 14 years in possession of the said sartorial monstrosities. Any how....I digress......

The Polo hat in question, white and large, was at least slightly more appealing to the eye than the re-cycled plastic creation beloved by so many London cyclists. His lid arrangement not withstanding, as he stood astride his mountain bike I began to muse on headwear, safety and its effect upon the motorist.

I continued my search of the various boutiques along the famous old street popping in to buy the most wonderful addition to my cycling shoe wardrobe in the shape of Church's “Shanghai” model from 1929, a copy of the designs popular at the time in the British colonies and characterised by the balancing of different leathers, canvas and wonderful contrasting subtle colours.

Now during these rather wonderful few days we have been having recently I decided to start wearing a white straw Panama, which apart from the brim blowing over my eyes on fast downhill sections, has been doing sterling service for yours truly. It is quite a white Panama and I have been told stands out sufficiently for me to have been spotted almost a mile away across Hyde Park by a young Norwegian gal of my acquaintance I hope to be performing some horizontal flirting with at some stage later this week.

To cut a long story shorter I am beginning to develop a theory that it is not so much the protective qualities of the construction of the headwear, as much as the protective quality provided by wearing a piece of headwear upon a bicycle per se.

Let me illuminate further......cyclist without headwear merges into the street scene.....cabbie just sees yet another head......the unadorned head being a rather common site on the streets of our cities....all hatless individuals tend to merge into one....avec velo or sans velo.

Now change that equation with the addition of a brilliant white Panama....dark band cutting a stark contrast against the white of the straw.....head appearing unusually large and somewhat prominent clad in the product of various Ecuadorian straw weavers.

Do you get my drift? Hat wearing gives one an advantage of making you conspicuous, providing a greater degree of visibility over the none hat wearing.....I might have scoffed at "Mr White Polo hat".....but I damned well noticed him.

It might just be that a hat's protective qualities need not concern the rider if it's real effect is prevention rather than cure?

So I'm off to John Lobb to find myself a fedora for the autumn season.....toodle pip!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Cycling and Alcohol...a cautionary tale

With all this wonderful weather about at the present, I thought that a trip out to a public house might be a good idea, although it required a dreary combining of business and pleasure. Of course as a Gentleman I hesitate to admit this fact, trade indeed.... but a chap has to put food on the old table from time to time and the barmaid there is utterly divine and seems a little vulnerable to my charms, so hey ho I thought!

The said hostelrie is out in the sticks and can be reached by one of two routes, one a cycle path alongside a dual carriage way (whoever built it has no soul, and has certainly never cycled), the other is via a rather challenging set of hills but along a wonderfully picturesque set of lanes.

As I have previously mentioned I enjoy a good challenging pedal up and down, and so despite the old Pashley's heft I decided upon the latter route.

One of the huge advantages of using the Bicycle for Business (ah...I feel another post coming on!) especially for the business lunch, is that you cannot get endorsements on your UK driving licence for an offence of being "Drunk in charge of a Bicycle". The peelers may nab you.....they might even incarcerate you for a few hours .....but pretty much the magistrate is only empowered to give what amounts to you a jolly pathetic financial slap upon the wrist.

In any case I duly arrived at said hostelerie, and during the course of a meal consisting largely of steak and asparagus as far as I can remember, I downed with my compatriot a rather good bottle of Domaine RomanĂ©e-Conti. Well I am a gentleman, and this was a very, very fine gastro pub.....well what on earth did you expect? Wetherspoons? The business was done, coffee was served, another contract was signed, & forthwith off I did trot!

In the car park, as my colleague walked over to an unspeakably large 4x4 I realised I had probably downed more of the wine that was my fair share. I was vaguely aware of the waitress I had mentioned earlier walking over to examine my bicycle making cooing noises about how fit I must be if I really cycled all the way from home. I rather blundered my way through an attempt at conversation, offered her my card, and said that as she claimed to be a cyclist herself we should ride out to a wonderful spot I know for a picnic and perhaps other things on her day off, to which she demurely agreed. As she wandered back to her clients even a cursory glance at her shapely calf and rounded pert buttocks in the pencil skirt revealed that she may very well be cyclist.

However this was no time for flirtation, I had a fairly serious 17 mile pedal to complete, the sun was up and I felt like a 3 year old at the Oakes waiting for the off. Studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol increase muscular endurance and strength output, but that these benefits are very short lived. After around twenty minutes, the problems start. In short all the negative side affects of alcohol fully outweigh any possible benefits, something I was rather quickly about to experience. For despite our love affair with the stuff, alcohol is poison and a whole medical dictionary of physical problems arise out of downing too much of it (even the velvety Domaine RomanĂ©e-Conti) before getting astride ones wheeled steed.

As I began I felt marvellous. Full of the joys of spring and rearing to go. But the sad fact was that after a relatively brief interlude I felt my strength, endurance, aerobic capacity, and ability to metabolize the food I had just consumed begin to leave me. Alcohol I understand affects the nervous system and brain and my nerve-muscle interaction appeared to be reduced immeasurably resulting in a considerable loss of strength and rather a lack of communal understanding on my part for people on the road in automotive forms of transportation.....Oh, and those ruddy hills started taking on the look of the north face of the bloody Eiger!

As I was about to learn, Alcohol is also a diuretic, so besides being almost unable to perform any degree of hill climbing, I'm now busting for a pee!

I have to admit that at an absolutely vicious part of one particular climb I stepped off from my machine and pushed. Oh my goodnes...the indignity of I crested the rise I felt like my bladder would rupture at even the thought of one more step.

At this juncture with my fine corduroy jacket soaked in sweat, my cap stuck to my head, my tie burning into my neck like a noose, despite my gentlemanly pretensions I stood the bike up, wandered to the side of the road and turning my back pulled down the fly of my trousers and withdrew my male member......

The sense of release was truly wonderful, a veritable torrent cascaded down into the ditch showering golden flecks of iridescent light upon the tall wafting grass. I stood .......and allowed the torrent to become a flood.....oh bliss!.....utter bliss!....and as I stood there,...... my member in hand....peeing to my little hearts delight..... a car whizzed past me and the face of an angel looked out upon the unholy scene.....the face of an angel I doubt I will be riding to picnic with anytime soon!