Despite recent rainfall, this post will have nothing to do with my role as the new Noah (I am still far too young – but just 448 years to go!) or any construction project involving gopher wood. Referring to my trusty King James edition, it seems that the original Project Initiation Document for anything surviving the flood was rather poorly drafted and variously requests two of each animal, or two pairs or seven pairs of each animal to be included in the ark. I think this rather poor QA and the weak compliance with the principles of PRINCE 2 may go some way to explaining the mess the world now finds itself in. I feel the roles of Project Manager and Team Leader are largely implicit in Genesis but it is less than clear on the user representative and establishment of a steering committee: and frankly I suspect a better defined project would have seen a lot of push back from the users long before the implementation phase. I like to imagine that the later formation of the Trinity was a response to criticisms in the End Project Report.
However, I did promise myself after the last gargantuan outing of GofaDM that I would try and rein myself in and wax less prolix (at least once). So, here goes my brave attempt to try something new…
It should be well known that my primary form of transport for journeys of non-trivial length (and those that will not involve an inconsistent level of alcohol consumption) is the bicycle. This has been the case for more than a decade now and throughout that period I have journeyed on several variation on the theme of the hybrid bicycle. Some have had more of the road bike about them than others – though I have never managed to get on with drop handle bars – and others have been more tuned for bad weather. I have had bikes made of aluminium, steel and titanium – but all have had the basic geometry and comfort characteristics of a hybrid.
Over the period of serious cycling as a practical mode of transport, and particularly after the move to Southampton, the quality of the road surfaces on offer has made the process of moving around ever more painful to a chap’s undercarriage. A situation that may have been exacerbated by my general lack of padding: both downstairs and up. I remember many years ago riding a horse through Monument Valley using a cavalry saddle, which went by the discouraging nickname of “ballbuster” (I think down to the shape of its “prow” and the likely effect of the steed stopping more rapidly than its rider and the ensuing conjunction of a genetleman’s agreement with said prow). However, this provided a level of comfort that a legume-sensitive princess would find more than acceptable when compared to cycling on the roads of my chosen city: I fear any chance of siring offspring was lost years ago (for which the world is no doubt grateful).
After my recent excursion to Eastleigh to further my aerial circus ambitions, I decided that enough was enough and that I needed a more comfortable conveyance to coddle my nethers into their twilight years. I could live with a little loss of efficiency in the transfer of energy from my body into its forward motion in return for less impact damage to my buttocks and that which lies between.
After some research into the options, I have acquired a new mountain bike – despite the lack of proximate relief which could claim the status of anything more than a foothill (if we exclude accessing the General Hospital) – which has rather different geometry, massive wheels and thick tyres (it’s a 29er – but I can assure readers has neither been baked nor treated with vinegar to achieve this status) and some solid suspension for the front forks.
Despite its rugged looks – and I’m hoping performance – it is still surprisingly light and quick on its wheels. A little slower out of the blocks perhaps (that’s inertia for you), but otherwise I have not noticed any major loss in performance. It does offer me a rather commanding position on the road and I can now laugh in the face of all but the largest of potholes. Indeed, as a small child with new Wellingtons is irresistibly drawn to puddles, so I am drawn to imperfections in the road to see how little they affect my smooth progress along the Queen’s highway. I finally understand the smug sense of superiority evinced by four-by-four drivers as I too now have this feeling of broad invincibility as I cycle around town – though sadly without the protection offered by hundreds of kilos of steel, a crumple zone, roll cage and multiple air bags: so I continue to operate on the principle that everyone else (including ginger cats) is out to kill me.
I like to imagine this new purchase will encourage some more excursions into the New Forest, but on my current performance of one such excursion in more than five years hopes should remain damp (or even soggy). For now, like a true 4×4 driver, I will be using my new toy resolutely within the only mildly rugged terrain offered by urban Southampton.