Thursday, 31 May 2007

That blog means more to you


So Jackie excused me of ignoring her when I came to work this morning. I usually pop my head round the door and exchange a few pleasantries and banter. This morning hot off the bike I was full of the sunshine blog entry and wanted to capture it in its full glory. So I snuck past her office.

2o minutes later on route to the photocopier she let me have it,
'Oh ignored me have you?'
'No I just had my blog to download out of my head'
'On so that blog means more to you than-'
You can't win!

Something is going on for me and Dee agrees so it must be so. Dee acts like a lodestone for me sometimes tells me what I am communicating on a profound level and takes me more seriously than most. Anyway this blog has opened something up for me that's bigger than the some of its parts (or posts!).

I have written all my life. I can't quite say I have always been a writer but I have always written. But there is something about this blogging business that is different for me than my published academic writings - books chapters papers.

There is also something different about attending Tony and Steve's creative writing classes in which we tenderly share feedback on each other's writings in response to exercises offered by them. They tell me all that I have written there seems part of a bigger piece of writing. I wonder if that also includes these blogs. Who knows!

Thanks for reading and do post when moved on blog site or off.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Response to F the Greek


If you visit my posting from yesterday entitled 'Pilgrimage' you will find a comment from F the Greek which includes an absolutely delightful poem by John Masefield about the lure of the sea.

Also included is the following:
"u travel accross landscapes, i travel accross seas.Is there a 'fever' in journeying for soulful reasons, whatever the vehicle?"
I don't experience it as a fever but I do like to travel from time to time to put myself at the mercy of the elements, people and the unknown and to indwell. I think it is a form of solitude for me. Travelling on my bike gives me that is a very special way but so can trains and planes.

But there is something different about so travelling from here to somewhere else and staying there. My LELJOG will be a continual journey for 2 weeks with a different place each night and I will be on the road most of the time. I haven't done a trip like this in ages. It is an adventure and it is unpredictable.

Thanks F for your response,

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Sunshine, birds and trapped in a lift


Easy cycling this morning in sunshine and a bit too much wind for my liking. I felt like I could moosey along and cycle all day without really waking up. I like cycling in early to work before it gets too busy on the road. My hope on the LEJOG trip is to cycle after an early breakfast and get some miles in before it gets too hot and before I really wake up - 10am usually!

I noticed the birds singing this morning I love to hear them it evokes some nostalgia in me for sunny mornings in my childhood especially pigeons which a neighbour kept. My Dad and my father-in-law were both keen bird watchers. I'm not, I don't quite get it but I guess I am a bird listener.

That reminds me of a daft seaside joke, 'What you you do it a bird shat on you?
'Dunno but I wouldn't take her out again!'

Yesterday evening me, my bike and Adrian and Maureen were in the lift at work - I keep my bike at work in amazingly spacious 5th floor office - and when we got to the ground floor the lift door would not open. Adrian's immediate response was to say, 'I'm glad I went to the loo before we left'. My response was to remember a story about a group of NHS workers stuck in a lift all weekend after the power was shut down!

We pressed the emergency bell but there was no response from the porters who only have one member of staff for the whole building after 6pm. Things looked grim. Then Adrian reached forward and easily prised open the doors and we were free. Such is life!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

My trip as a pilgrimage


It rained yet again en route to work from Dee's. Talking to Dee I realised that my LEJOG trip would affect me in many ways not all of which could be predicted in advance. Certainly here will be some kind of inner journeying to match the outer one.

I expect there will be some weird and hopefully wonderful blogs to post here. There may well be times of sudden and useful insights and I expect times of emptiness like occur on my training days.

I think passing through the landscape will affect me. Will my Celtic blood respond to Cornwall and Devon? Passing through the Welsh borders I will be close to where my Great grandfather the Rev Thomas Lewis was born and grow up. So who knows there might be a sermon to blog! Like my Dad I have always had a thing about the North of Britain and I have never yet witnessed the Northern Lights but were they to happen on my trip that would leave me speechless.

It begins to feel awesome, I only hope me and the bike last out. I am finalising places to stay right now which brings it all even closer. I'll ask for your prayers and support later on!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Tuesday, 29 May 2007



Graham who has kindly offered to sponsor me 3p a mile - work it out (or see below)! has offered the following proviso:
"However, returning to your proposed sponsored cycle-ride: miles travelled in the cabs of trucks and in parcels' vans of railway carriages do not count. Neither do miles accrued sun-bathing on the roof of narrow boats on the Shropshire and Worcester Canal. And just because narrow boats follow precisely the same routes as your favourite cycle tracks (and travel at about the same speed as a bike dawdling along them), this does NOT make sitting astride your bike on the aft deck of a narrow boat a legitimate alternative to actually peddling along the tow path. I just thought I'd make that clear to save any misunderstanding later on."

The very idea! As if I would! Anyone would think I was going to cycle like Tim Moore who decided the only way to complete the Tour de France route was to copy the behaviour of the riders and A) take drugs B) cheat.

So why not copy Graham and make your pledges now 1p a mile works out at £10. Money upfront equally welcome.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Bananas, Petheads and Vietnam


Shelley's parting words at work on Friday evening were "Take care of your banana!"

Last night I was a Pethead par excellence. I was in the audience close to the stage for the Pet Shop Boys gig at the Apollo in Manchester. It was tremendous. I would urge you all the catch them in action only the tour is more or less sold out.

So I am definitely up for becoming Neil Tennant or Chris Lowe for a day on my bike trip all I need is a sponsor - over to you (£50+ half day, £100+ full day). Think of it Bill on bike declaiming 'West End Girls' and 'It's a sin' to bewildered sheep in Devon or the Highlands. I could even capture it as a video clip on my new digital camera!

Talking of sponsorship my friend Holly whose Vietnamese gave me some sponsorship money on Sunday saying, "They need it". I was touched because I know Holly had a dreadful time in Vietnam and then months in a refugee camp before she came to England.

It is time that those of us in the West got out of the way and ceased to be part of the problem of the Third World.

Best to all

Bill on bike

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Bananas again


I had lunch with my old friend and and part LEJOG companion Keith today in the 8th day basement cafe. Keith you recall was the man with the message if I fall off the bike the pig gets it!

Anyway Keith produced this curious inflatable plastic thing courtesy of Rosie and Stephan from Munich. He challenged me to figure out its usage. I was non plussed. Keith then produced a banana and put it inside the plastic and inflated it! Lo and behold you a have a banana cushioned on all sides by air.

This then fit neatly in rucksack, panniers or even that curious pocket you have on the back of cycling jackets. No more squashed bananas! Needless to say Shelley and Jackie found this immensely amusing. And once I have figured out my new digital camera I'll get a photo onto this site!

Best to all,
Bill on bike.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Grey day


A grey day and cycling in it it feels like life is suspended. It's not quite spring not quite summer - cycling in a liminal space. Despite the greyness it felt good to cycle it's the kind of day to cover some miles...And who knows it might prove creative..

The latest CTC newlsetter has a great link to some amzaing footage of a reecnt Tour De France - try it

Don't forget to email your sponsorship pledges to me - do it now! - If you forget my blog address try typing in Billonbike into Google!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Rain again but so

So I was riding from work to my meeting with Ann in Altrincham yesterday and immediately it rained and there was quite a head wind - against me. I thought about quiting my bike at my home which was on route. But then the shower ended and the sun came out and my spirits revived.

I kinda like finding regular routes like this canal side trip to Altrincham which carries on to Dunham Massey and beyond. I like not having to navigate and knowing my route - where I am and what lies ahead. All of this will be very different on the LEJOG trip.

I am going to add this trip to Altrincham onto my regular Aldereley Edge trip which will make it 70 miles! I'll do the Edge trip first so that I can compare my times and then do this extra bit. This will answer my concerned friends who doubt I can do 70 miles a day!

My knees are a bit sore today maybe still catching up after being off the bike for a week. I have run out of the tablets Sheila gave me that seemed to be helping.

Cecilia Rachier from KAPC Kenya will be over on a visit early in July. I'll get a photo of her for this blog site. I'll ask her to do a seminar on HIV counselling in Kenya so if any of you are in Manchester on Thursday 12h July in the afternoon and want to come drop me an email -

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Zen and Moscow


Back on the bike after one week off it and it's glorious even though it is raining a bit! I had work trips to York and Moscow. Moscow was mad the drivers are crazy virtually gridlocked most of the time and I didn't see one cyclist during the 4 days I was there!

But I took my new copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with me and read it for the 4th or 5th time and it was a delight on many levels. "The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself".

There's lots more including his delight in B and minor roads and the people who use them and live on them. His book is also about the inner journey as well as the outer journey and a few friends have been commenting on this to me. In a small way my trips to York and Moscow have been such journeys if not on bike and there is something about the aloneness of journeying that feeds my soul as well as brings a whole new series of experiences to me.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Grace, ancestors and a pilgrimage

So, I was cycling to Dee's yesterday against the wind and feeling sluggish and wondered about whether grace was ever possible for me on the bike, you know that effortless physical harmonious movement when everything works easy (including the bike) and well without any strain. Then suddenly I was in it and enjoying the ease of movement and feeling like I could cycle for ever....

This LEJOG journey of mine could be a kind of pilgrimage, there will certainly be an inner journey as well as an outer journey. And like all other journeys the unexpected will happen and there will be likely interesting encounters on the way. I hope my body and my bike hold up with out too much need for repair and that my map reading skills are at their best and that the weather is cool and dull with a little breeze.

It feels like the journey is in four parts: Devon and Cornwall which is fairly new to me and will be more than a bit hilly!; the Welsh borders which is a delight and fairly well known and where at least one of my ancestors the Rev Thomas Lewis, (my mother's mother's father) a Baptist minister came from; Knutsford up into Cumbria and into the lowlands of Scotland; and finally the Scottish highlands which I hope to fit enough for!

A daunting challenge but my life often seems to be about needing to scare myself from time to time!

Best to all,

Bill on Bike

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Rain, whippets and hams


It was raining when I left home for work this morning. It was mizzling but it soon turned into a drizzle and then it set in. Yes we have over 40 words for rain in Manchester! Climate change made dry up the South East of England and turn it into a desert but up North I think we heading for swamps, who knows Manchester could become the new Glastonbury!

My body is changing shape in curious ways and this is not just my poetic fantasies it's actually been commented on extensively mostly by my female friends I have to say. They keep saying I look thinner and fitter whilst my old male friend whose commented said I looked older. (Thanks I really needed to hear that, not!)I have lost 2 inches off my waist since September, I know this because I have had to tighten my belt twice. The upside of this is that a pair of trousers I bought on impulse 5 years ago and only wore once now fit me OK.

But it is my legs that have changed most. Whilst below the knees my calves are shaping up nicely whippet-like my thighs have turned into, well the only word to describe them is hams! It looks like I have been working out like a bodybuilder but only doing exercises on my thighs.

You might be thinking now that you have heard more than you want to know! So back to poetry. A poem came to me just before Christmas on the way to Dee's so I quickly wrote it down and later polished it up a bit and I then sent it to my friend Chris Jenkins (my birthday do MC) who edits Thresholds the journal of the APSCC and it will be in print this month (May). This is my first poem for 20 years or more and first one in print since the early 1970s. If you want a copy and don't get Thresholds sent me an email. The poem is called Spiritual Suffering!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Friday, 4 May 2007

A spin around the Edge


Just back home after another one of my 55 miles training rides from home out to Alderley Edge and then a circular route that takes in Goostrey and Maggotty Lane etc. Cloudy all day and I only saw the sun once when nearly home at Styal prison.

I sampled some sausage rolls in Alderley Edge in a great bakers there and took a pie for lunch along with my banana(!) on a bench under my usual tree in Goostrey.

I re-worked the lyrics to 'Elstree remember me' by the Buggles replacing Elsetree with Goostrey and finding myself singing it with a strained nasal voice rather like Dylan!

I did the trip 35 minutes quicker than last time starting at 9.30 and finishing at 4.10. Leaving out my breaks I am doing about 9 mile per hour which is great and I hope to reach 10 before August.

My friends Rob and Sue are going to put us up on route to Cornwall and I have just booked us into what seems like a brill B and B in Penzance. for the night before the trip starts.

Sheila has lost her enthusiasm for camper vans so we are thinking B and B alternating with camping. However Sheila snores like a rattle snake so I am not sure how many nights in a tent Grace and I will cope with!

Marie kindly gave me £10 upfront yesterday afternoon so that makes a total of £114 upfront with much more pledged. It makes it all feel much more worthwhile, very motivating and with your help we can clear a £1000 soon!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Phone a friend


Annie gave a me a generous donation today which brings the total of money actually given so far to over £100 - £104 to be exact. I also have a number of people who are pledged to payout once I do the trip. Now is your chnace to 'Help William reach a £1,000' so I am asking you the audience to phone (or email) a friend - William and pledge your support for this mad cycle trip. 1p a mile comes to £10 assuming I complete all 1,000 miles of the trip!

Meanwhile I am doing another of my circular cycle trips to Alderley Edge around and back again tomorrow and I'll wroite soemthing hot off the bike when I finish.

Matt Seaton - who I wrote to about postmodern cycling - has curiously gone back to Flann O'Brien in his weekly Guardian cycling column. He quotes form his Mollycule Theory "people who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles oveer the rocky roadsteads of thsi parish get their personalities mixed up with the personaliites of their bikes as a result of the interchange of mollycules of each of them".

Best to all,

Bill on bike