Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sorry it's been a few days, I've been having too much fun to sit down and write, here are the main things that have happened.

Death Valley
It is shockingly hot, amazingly so. One person required medical attention because they were so dehydrated but surviving it felt like really achieving something. I rather enjoyed it. We got buzzed by an F16 and the Pilot waved at us, that was exciting. I rode about without a helmet, which was weird but interesting.

The Grand Canyon
Go and see this. Pictures will never get across how utterly epic it is. I went for a helicopter ride around it which was awesome. The pilot played the theme from 2001 as we crossed over the rim and the lady next to me cried because it was so beautiful. It was aces.

When we landed I found a quiet spot on a sticking out rock, dangled my legs over the edge and took a moment. When the time was right, I released the remains of my dad into the breeze. It was apt, I think that's the best way of describing it. Just after I released the remains a raven or some huge black bird appeared on a gust of wind, so when I went to the Indian Market I brought a raven totem thingy which now lives around my neck. I feel different now.

It's quite hot, dry, as in no booze and after the Grand Canyon everything else is a bit meh. The roads in Utah are straight, we managed 15 miles without any sort of turning or bend, which is actually a bit dull. I like bendy roads. I'm tired too, we have been getting up really early to get ahead of the heat and I've not got the hang of going to bed early yet.

In other news I've got the stupidest tan ever. Shorts + bike boots = tannned knees.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A storm of butterflies

Yesterday was good. We entered Yosemite park for the first time. It's huge, I always thought Hyde Park was pretty good going but Yosemite is vast and extremely bumpy.

As we entered the park we had to ride through a storm of butterflies. It was beautiful and amazing, and a bit horrible at the same time. I tried to dodge as many as possible but I still ate a few.

Our first stopping point was a waterfall. Bride falls I think. It was very impressive, and refreshing. There were big signs telling you to stay off the rocks, so of course we scamped over the rocks for more impressive photos. I've identified the 'naughty group' in the tour so I tend to ride around with them now. They are here without their wives and so are being pleasantly childish.

After the waterfall we rode around a bit stopping to take photos of views so epic I can't even believe myself when I remember them. Then we had lunch. Chuck called me, which was nice. The shoes went down well, but I think the really important thing was that I told her about scattering the remains. I'm glad things are less chilly between us again.

Lunch was a salmon burger with sweet potato chips. It was nice, but I'm starting to get worried by how much rubbish I'm eating. We fuelled up and then made our way to Glacer Point. The road up there was brilliantly wiggly but frustrating because traffic caused us to take it very, very slowly. It was worth the ride though because the view is, well it's awesome in the tradiional sense of the word.

I spent about an hour just looking at stuff. It's 7000 feet up and you can see for miles and miles. On the left of the viewing place there is a huge rock overhanging the cliff. It sticks out surprisingly far, so of course Team Naughty and I scrambled over the signs saying 'do not climb here' and took photos of us striking macho poses.

We ran off before any park rangers could find us and rode to the motel on yet another amazingly wiggly road (with positive camber!) we were stuck behind a coach for a while but once that pulled over it was excellent fun.

The motel is on the main strip of a weird, typically American town. We went to the local biker bar and drank beer before going to a 'BBQ shack' and eating fairly crappy food. I'm going to try and be healthy today and eat something that wasn't fried in lard.

Today we are going to see the biggest tree ever, and some other things. I'm going to go and buy some headphones so I can listen to music while riding. I want to make an album my American Trip music, so that when I listen to it I will remember this trip.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I've had, the time of my life.

You know those dreams you have, where something so wonderful is happening you are desperate not to wake up? The dreams where you can fly or you have a pet dinosaur made out of jelly. The dreams where everything is just perfect and you don't want it to end.

That's what today has been like, well the latter half of today. The start was a bit iffy. We picked up the bikes from the dealership and then got ready to set off. I packed my bike really quickly and then I had to hang around for ages, like hours for other people to have quite heated domestics about who should have the most space for socks.

It really was quite fighty. Then we wobbled into the San Francisco traffic and slowly made our way to the Golden Gate bridge. I don't like riding in groups that much, especially with people I don't know so this wasn't that much fun. People got lost, pulled stupid manoeuvres and other naughty things. It was roasting hot too.

Once we were over the bridge things got a bit better. The highway gave people a bit ore room to mess about, far away from me so I could relax a bit. After a bit of highway riding we turned right onto a completely straight road for ages. It was like the ultimate roman road.

At some magical point the road started wiggling up and down some hills, the it wiggled some more. We turned right into Yosemite park and the road really got it's wiggle on. I've never been on such an well maintained, bendy and interesting road. It was marvellous. I could go home now and I'd be happy.

The air was pleasantly warm, the bike was behaving and the new tyres were finally scrubbed in so for an hour so I was entirely in the moment and I didn't think about anything else. Bliss.

After the wiggly road we arrived at our hotel in the wilderness. It's faintly reminiscent of the hotel in Dirty Dancing but sadly I've not managed to find the underground dance club for people who work here. Not that I could do that much dancing. I'm too knackered.

Walking with mad people

Who would have thought it, they have The Internet in America. It's amazing. My phone even works over here, although I suspect it will cost me bajillions to make calls.

I'm typing this on my new laptop. It's one of those tiny little notebook ones (I needed one for work), and because they had no other colour, it's pink. Super gay pink. It was a bit of a bargin, even after I was hit with sales tax.

It's the most camp item of consumer electronics that I own and I rather like it.

San Francisco is rather nice, it seems really relaxed. Spiritually it's like Brighton, or any south coast Victorian town but it's just a bit cleaner. Actually it's a lot cleaner. It's spotless. I've been doing a few touristy things before the epic voyage begins.

I went to Alcatraz which was interesting, and yet dull at the same time. I jail is well it's a house with more iron work. Once you've seen one tiny room with a broken loo in it you've seen them all.

The rest of S.F. is charming and bumpy, I'd like to spend more time here if I could exploring. Yesterday I went on a ghost tour. It was a bit if an accident. I happened to be in the lobby when the guide turned up, he was dressed like such a berk I just had to go along.

The level of horrifying supernatural tales was pretty low. Or any sort of creepy atmosphere. It wasn't a spooky insight into the spirits of San Francisco, instead, I went for a walk with a mad person who did some crappy street magic. Actually when I describe it like that it was pretty good value.

Anyway it's time to eat breakfast and then we saddle up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Keep those wagons rollin'

I learned something important today. If you are going to go shopping for some last minute supplies for a holiday, and your transport is a motorbike, take a bag. There is only so much you can stuff up your jumper.

That's about it for today and lessons, the rest of it passed in a blur while frantically trying to sort out stuff for when I leave. I even managed to avoid saying 'if you get stuck, call me'. That's a first.

Well I've packed now, mostly I'm fretting about if my luggage is too heavy. Bike clothes weigh a lot, they also take up a lot of room. Anyway, I'm sure I'll be fine. If it's over I'll just wear some of the heavy bits. Ha in your face flight operators.

This might be my last entry for a while, while I'm sure they have The Internet in The Americas, I'm not sure how easily I will be able to get my hands on it while travelling. I'll be busy punching bears and finding gold in streams, that's what people do in the West you know.

So goodbye chums.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In which we discuss the affect of stress on Chuck relations

I've been getting pretty stressed at work. There is a lot of pressure on me, from a few different angles. There are people who have to do work for me, but who consider it beneath them, and there are other people who want me to fail for political reasons. This is quite tiring and can get a chap down.

Add to this my background level of stress, I think in a big part to never really saying goodbye to my dad and you have a terribly stressed Louche. It's been affecting other things too, important things like my relationships. This is not good.

Some days I'd come back from work extremely stressed, so stressed that it would take me a while to unwind and that would get Chuck all worked up. If I don't calm down it's going to destroy our relationship and that is just not on. I'd hate for that to happen.

The thing is, Chuck is very special and we've already had grown up conversations about 'where this is going' and stuff like that. I've never had one of those before, usually I just run away. I don't want to lose this one, which is why I have plans for my trip to America.

Ealing Comedies and casual racism

A bit of a busy day yesterday. I had to train up my lieutenant to do the important bits of my job while I'm away. It's a weird one that training chaps up for that.I felt guilty about not wanting him to do it too well. Not that works like that, but you know what I mean.

After work I had to start the packing, and had a minor emergency. I'd asked for some hair (yes I know it sounds weird, but it's 'remains') from my dad to be posted up but it hadn't appeared. It turns out it was tucked into a suit that had arrived a week earlier and I hadn't seen it. As you can imagine losing remains isn't as funny as Ealing Comedies would have us believe and I got a bit upset. Thankfully I did find them and calmed down just enough for my one on one IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) lesson.

It went well, I've just completed a series of police biking lesson things and so my riding is coming on nicely. The chap was pleased with my progress, especially over the course of the lesson and he wants to book my test now. So that is nice, the only wobbly bit was when he drew a direct link with the dangers of the road with the increased number of foreign people in the country. I suppose, since I've been in London for so long, this sort of statement catches me off guard somewhat.

After my lesson a chap from work dropped over some slightly distasteful, yet extremely good luggage for me to take to America and I went to sleep.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dr Livingstone and RealPolitik

The sports war has taken another step. I told my boss that I though the reason for the friction was my lack of experience when it came to sport. I held back on telling him that I thought sport was a load of old toss, which makes me feel I have grown as a person.

It is a load of old toss though.

I've started packing for my adventure now, well sort of pre-packing. In that I've mentally selected some items that I have to take and then dug out the largest bag I have. This bag isn't quite enough. I know that my biking costume will fill it instantly so I need a larger one. I did toy with wearing the biking costume onto the plane but it has a few flaws.

1) It's got lots of metal in it. When I went to the TT and rode to the airport I had to get almost completely naked to get through the metal detector.

2) It's more than a little warm. I suppose I could take the thermal lining out, which would help. It's rather bulky too. Armour is good while riding, less so when squeezing into a seat on a flight.

3) It's a biking costume. When I'm screaming across a desert on a motorbike, it will most definitely look the part. When I'm sweating through Heathrow, with a tonne of luggage trying to find my gate. I'll just look like a berk.

Also since I'll be wearing it for two weeks almost solidly I'd like to be able to wear something else on the plane at least, especially on the way back.

Someone at work is going to lend me some luggage, so I should really hold off on packing until then.

This isn't a valid excuse as to why I've not got any American money yet, or any of the specialist supplies I've been told to get. I have to stock up on dehydration tablets (Death valley is supposed to be a touch warm) and Vaseline because spending days upon days in the saddle is going to be sore on my poor bot.

I can't wait though, two weeks of being away from it all is going to be spiffing. Just me, a bike and the open road. Ding dong.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sports war

I have trouble with sports. I've never been into watching them. I can enjoy a nice game of croquet, and if pushed will even play football in the park but I think watching sport is a complete waste of time. This goes for all sports, it's like organised religion, I just don't get it.

This makes me unusual compared to a lot of chaps. Most chaps even. It's not really caused me that much trouble in my life so far. There has been the occasional football related conversation that has left me cold but that's about it.

At my current work it is a problem. There is a sports desk. They are old school, terribly old school. They are, big fish in their respective small ponds and I'm the new, erm, frog? In town? As part of my job I have to provide coverage at the weekends, which means I have to edit their stories and put up some sports results for the motor racing. I hate it, and I get incredibly stressed doing it.

The putting up of stories is stressful because it involves sitting around waiting, next to a computer, for them to send the stories over and then uploading them super fast to the website. If you don't upload them in seconds, you get abuse. So you spend the whole day waiting around for them. Sometimes I'll get a text message at 9pm ordering a story to be put up. This ruins weekends, you get a bit of time-off for doing weekend coverage but not two whole days.

The second part is silly. We have to get hold of the results from the race and put them up as fast as possible. Then we have to write a report on the race, on the race I can't see because I don't have the telly package. As you can imagine this is quite challenging.

Add into the mix I just don't care about the races, and the fact that I know the sports section of the website brings in the least money of any part of it. I can prove this with facts, yet it causes me the most trouble and stress.

I had a weekly meeting today where my boss said that the sports chaps had revealed that 'I get their backs up'. I'm not quite sure how to deal with that. I'm sort of angry, because I've only ever been nice to them.

I don't know how to deal with this really, I'd like to have some sort of meeting but I'm not sure how I get my point across in the correct manner. Gah.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eleventy twelvety bazillion great

I found my old Ipod when I was last home. It's sort of alive again. The screen is still mashed but the Ipod behind the scenes is just about ticking over. This means, my large collection of strange music is with me again.

Listening to some of the tunes is like going back in time, not very far admittedly, it sort of starts in 2002/3ish. Still it's nice. I listen it it and I'm back to some strange places, with some strange girls, or strange cocktails.

They remind me of seemingly endless summers, drinking with friends near Hyde Park. Frantically getting ready for dates with girls I don't even know the name of. Walking home from friends houses at stupid hours in the morning with only music to keep me awake. Eating strawberries with company, while lying naked in a sun beam. Rattling over hills in Italy, after near-death experiences.

Waltzing in the front room at the end of an affair when we both know it's over. The first sparkly eyed glance over a drink that says 'well hello'. Stumbling from one party to another, with a hand full of goodie bags and a crumpled invite.

Cycling through Hampstead in the rain. Walking people to get them cabs at 7am after staying up all night and then going straight into work. Bursting into warm pubs in winter months, and getting a cheer just because you turned up.

Cocktails at a complete strangers house, in an unknown part of town, just because.

A thousand weekends that started with a badly stuffed weekend bag and a picnic hamper, a hundred strangers met for the weirdest of reasons that became friends, tens of interesting women and one wonderful city, London.

Sometimes you have to stand and look back, just so you can say to yourself
'I say, I really did have a jolly spiffing time, what?'

Girls are weird

It's nice to be blogging again, it really is. It's a bit sad this blog will be hidden for a while, it's going to have to be like that for a while at least. Ho-hum. Let's all just band together and enjoy the Blitz spirit, eh?

Worse things have happened and all that. Actually I realise I should clear things up about Chuck and being an item. Specifically, she is not my girlfriend. While she doesn't kiss anyone else, and neither do I, we aren't actually an item. She is a bit weird about that. I have mentioned it's weird but girls are funny about being called weird.

Other people think it's weird too, including her friends, but it's just a thing. You know, a thing like not liking Cheese Cake (me) or liking Eastenders (her). I like to know where I stand with people so it's, well it's been a bit weird for me.

I'm not saying you have to sign a formal declaration the moment you meet, but if you are spending every night with someone, it's something else isn't it? If they have a toothbrush at your house, well that's something girlfriends have.

Although logically it's just a title, isn't it? Or is it?

Girls are weird. I suppose that's why I like them.*


California, Chuck and (motor)Cycles

Quite a bit has happened since this blog disappeared. To get everyone (well no-one right now, but invites will be sent out soon) up to speed here are the key facts.

In four days I'm off to California to ride around various naturally beautiful places for work. It's going to be the first two week holiday I've had in years, at least three and it's going to be my first paid holiday longer than 7 days, well ever. It's also going to be my first travel feature so that's exciting too.

I'm really looking forward to it, although it doesn't feel quite real yet. While I'm out there I'm going to scatter a few of my dad's hairs (taken from his old helmet) in some interesting places. I am currently planning on letting them drift away on an gust of air at the Grand Canyon. Then I shall say a few words and take a moment. This will be the funeral I never got, and perhaps it will let me move on at last.

Things are still going on. Chuck and I, are an item. In the past six weeks we have spent only three nights apart, and only one of those through choice. It's been amazing, but also occasionally a bit tense. I think this is just part of getting to know someone, and perhaps spending a bit too much time with them. Or at least I hope that is why we've had a couple of, well not arguments but conversations that weren't just about how lovely the other person smelt.

I'm not going to see her for a month now (she is on holiday at the moment) so we will have some time to think about things and the like. We didn't part on the best of terms, which was, well it was my fault really but my actions were logical, if silly. We have spoken since and it's a bit better but it still feels a bit fragile.

I've never had terribly long relationships. The moment they start to get complicated is the moment I run off and take someone else out for champagne and so I'm not quite sure how this bit works. I would like it to work. Chuck is like no-one else I've ever met and while I'm not sure about our long term future there are days when I'd very much like to marry her.

My biking is coming on a treat, I've just been assessed by the police and I passed with flying colours. This means a lot to me as I've not been riding for long on the road (really only since the start of this year). To have a slightly stern police chap say 'That was excellent, and considering you've not been riding long that was extremely accomplished, well done' was a nice thing.

I'm still enjoying work, and it's coming on really well. I'm just not terribly good at managing stress yet. I care a bit too much, which is causing some friction with Chuck and I. I need to work on that.

A note on editors

This blog was gone for a while, it was nearly gone forever.

It disappeared because The Hitchcock Blonde's mum sent me some hate mail for moving on. It was extremely unpleasant and really knocked me for six, well a dozen to be accurate. Then the Hitchcock Blonde sent me an email that started off apologising for her mum and ended up in hate mail. That was also unpleasant.

They have both been removed from my life. Phone numbers deleted, Facebook ties severed, the works. Dead. To. My. Eyes.

For a while I closed down this blog, it will remain private for quite some time but I found that without somewhere to vent and be silly I was getting quite stressed.

I think the important thing here is to not give someone editoral control. No matter how unpleasant they are via email.