Life is full of ups and downs and not just the dreaded hills I keep encountering as I continue the training for the Cycletta in company of great friends and companions – definitely one of the Ups. This week has seen a combination of Ups and Downs including a minor Up as the scales dipped low at Fat Club – a miniscule drop but a drop nonetheless. As the scales fall down there is a collective upsurge in spirit and as a group we willingly embrace the challenge presented by our group leader of ‘thinking out of the box’ regarding our diet. Even as I speak the supermarkets are being denuded of Mooli and Cassava- none of us, even our passionate and evangelical group leader, are exactly sure what we are going to do with them but we all know that with a bit of galangal and followed by a Tamarrillo these ingredients will enable us to achieve new heights of culinary excellence and bring a satisfying Downward result on the torture platform next week.
A major Up was a return to the west coast for the Blackpool Ride the Lights event – an unbelievably wonderful night of twinkly lights, illuminations, every possible type of bicycle – children on trikes, small bikes with stabilisers, mountain bikers and a few who clearly thought this was a stage of the Tour de France. An illicit tray of chips and gravy as a reward was clearly one of the Ups – and possibly the reason for such a small Down on the scales. A late night return requiring unloading and stashing of bike by wheely bin was a bit of a Down as was next mornings early alarm. However, in the best tradition of Ying and Yang there was a major Up when 2 days later I became a cycling commuter. For the first time I cycled into the office and home again – with a little help from Fred the Granada weather man whose ace forecasting gave me the all clear and got me there and back in dry conditions.
Now this is where a couple of Downs come in, not just that I had to bottle out of riding home through the busy bus station area and walk to the canal rather than risk causing a major traffic incident as I wobbled between buses, cars, taxis, speed bumps and zebra crossings. Rather that as I cycled along the canal path in the sunshine I was struck by the number of people wandering along clutching a supply of cans of the alcoholic variety. Now if they are heading for a day in the sun and some alfresco food and drink that’s great, but can they not take the litter home or to a bin? The canal has some beautiful areas, as we have seen today on our 22km run, but there are areas which are full of litter and rubbish. Today as we came away from a magnificent Up with views that made your heart sing we entered areas where people were sitting in the midst of total rubbish whilst they fished in a section of the canal strewn with detritus. This was a big Down – not even that they did not think to clear and clean their leisure area but that they chose to just sit in it.
The canal is one of the highways of the Industrial revolution, one of the arteries of the past wealth and heritage of the area and whilst some sections are lovingly restored and cared for others are testament to deprivation and disinvestment. Cycling just a 7 mile stretch takes you through the Ups and Downs of this area of Lancashire, countryside second to none, magnificent marinas, great coffee and cakes contrasted with dereliction and despair.
Needless to say we ended on an Up with coffee and the obligatory toasted tea cake in a lovely canalside bistro where I for one could reflect that having had to negotiate a couple of hills en route, as a result of effort and investment my Ups are getting easier and my Downs are becoming almost exhilarating. How nice would it be if we could say the same for the canalside community in a couple of years time?