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Post 262: A Productive Christmas

I can’t believe that Christmas is over already, where did it go? I’ve eaten more than I planned and drank more than is probably good for me, but I’ve also got an awful lot of work done. When the phone doesn’t ring and nobody is pulling your chain for a few days, it’s quite surprising how much you can actually get done.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time arranging the upcoming tour of SE Asia. I had planned to start out in January, but it now looks as if it will get pushed back until the middle of February. It means that I’ll miss the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Chang Mai, but I’m sure that they’ll still manage to drink the City dry without me. Last week I thought that I’d bought a Minsk in Hanoi, but sadly the deal slipped through my fingers when the vendor insisted that I also purchase his knackered Honda Wave. I really hadn’t seen that one coming, but I’ve got to start putting my brain into ‘Asia Mode’. At the moment I don’t have a bike, an air ticket or a departure date, but I do have a map and a passport.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t finished writing the book. That’s actually a lie. I’ve finished writing it five or six times, but every time I finish it, I change something and it just seems to knock another chapter out of kilter. However, over the past week, I’ve changed the ‘Ashes to Boonville’ Blog and added photographs to all of the existing chapters. I’ve also added another five chapters which takes the journey up to Turkey. The published chapters are abridged and I’ve bypassed around half of the countries, but hopefully it still makes sense. Before I head out to Vietnam, I’ll hopefully have that Blog completed and the book will be with the publishers.
I’m giving another ‘Talk’ on January 10th down at Rake in West Sussex. It’s at the invitation of the BMW Riders Club and I just hope that they know what they’re letting themselves in for. It’s safe to say that while I’m not a particular fan of ‘Triumph’, my comments about BMW GS’s are generally unprintable. Of course, they’ll understand that’s just a simple case of jealousy and I should at least escape with my life. However, if this Blog goes suspiciously quiet after January 10th, then you’ll know the reason why.

Post 261: Winter Wonderland

Great Britain has been caught-out by unexpected Winter snow and according to the BBC, the nation has ground to an embarrassing halt. The usual crowd of high-volume idiots are already calling it a ’ National Disgrace’, but the majority of us pragmatists are just enjoying the slightly slower pace of life that snow inevitably brings with it. On the BBC News, they interviewed a young lad as he played with his mates in the snow. “I went to school this morning and there was a sign outside saying - ‘SORRY SCHOOL CLOSED‘ - but we‘re not SORRY“. Maybe they should make that young lad Director General of the BBC before society has a chance to beat the fun out of him.

I then got an unexpected call from a distant colleague who was trying to write a short piece for one of the slightly less independent bike magazines. After a few minutes of conversation, I gathered that he wasn’t really writing an article, but rather that he wanted me to write it while he went outside to put the finishing touches to the Office Snowman. I can’t blame him for trying, but as he was getting paid and I wasn’t, I decided to be as honest as possible.

He was trying to put together a short page filler about riding in the snow but was struggling to find any riders who were able or willing to contribute. The piece was to be directed as novice riders and should give them practical advice about coping with the dangers of riding road bikes in the snow. No doubt keen to join his snowman building colleagues outside in the office car park, he asked me to email my thoughts and then he was gone. Fair enough.

“When attempting to ride a road bike in the snow, there is only one important rule to remember. That rule is the rule of Give and Take. Give the bike a rest, Take the bus“. It’s not exactly what he wanted, but if he didn’t want my advice then he shouldn’t have bloody well asked for it. He’d struggled to find any experienced road riders who could advise him on the best techniques for riding in snow, and that wasn’t really surprising. Experienced riders adopt the rule of Give and Take, because when riding in snow there is only one certainty. You will inevitably fall off and no matter how experienced a rider you are, the density of the objects that you hit will simply depend on your luck.

Post 260: Christmas is coming .....

Yes, Christmas is coming. Not the ‘Festive Season’ and certainly not the ‘Holidays’, just good old fashioned Christmas. I’m not a Christian but I really don’t get upset if anybody wishes me a ‘Happy Christmas‘. Nor for that matter would any of the Muslims, Jews, Sikhs or Buddhists that I know. If I wish Muslim friends ‘eid mubarak’, even though I’m not Muslim myself, they don’t get bent out of shape about it and the same would be true if I sent them a Christmas card with a Christian prayer inside of it. In fact, they’d probably be chuffed to bits that I was taking the time to include them. It seems that the only people who take offence at the mention of Christmas, are Christian’s who have somehow advanced into bureaucratic positions that are far higher than their IQ’s should allow. They seem to perceive that ‘Christmas’ is offences to other religions and instead of inviting everybody to join in the celebrations, they try to sweep it under the carpet and end up hacking everybody off. So, if somebody wishes you ’Happy Holidays’ or sends you a politically correct corporate card, then please return it to sender and tell them to get a life.

Talking of perception - sort of - I recently changed my Facebook picture for Children in Need. I normally use a photograph of my face in my normal crash helmet, but I changed the helmet to yellow and had a spotted bandana running diagonally across it. An email asked me if I’d used special paint that wouldn’t affect the integrity of the helmet and if I’d used special one-way coloured film for the bandana? The answer is almost ’Yes’. The special paint that I used was eco-friendly MS Paintbrush and no helmets were harmed in the making of that photograph.

Anyway, I’ve done all of my Christmas shopping, one present for Hannah and a donation to charity that’s equal to all of the other crappy presents that I would probably have bought for everybody else if I‘d had the time. It’s an easy solution, nobody ever asks for a receipt and hopefully everybody feels a little bit better because of it.

Happy Christmas