Bike Hero #8 and #9

The Tour of Britain has been Live on TV this past week and yesterday there was a magic moment during the Stage to Edinburgh.

You get the odd nutcase in the big Grand Tours of France and Spain who run along side the competitors shouting encouragement they grind up a mountain.

A local lad, Xander Graham, kept pace with the leading group of riders for a fair way along the route by cycling on the pavement. His efforts were rewarded by race rider Pascal Eenkhoorn with a water bottle.

It was a great moment to see.

https://www.tourofbritain.co.uk/pascal-eenkhoorn-meets-young-cycling-fan-xander-graham-at-aj-bell-tour-of-britain/

Bike hero #7 Beth Shriever

There have been a few posts on this blog about my bike heroes. Only 6 have been chosen so far:

  1. Sheldon Brown the bike building oracle was the first on the list of heroes. He was a great inspiration, source of information and point of reference when I did my own build.
  2. Danny MacAskill has come a long way since he received my second nomination. The things that he can do on a bike still take your breath away.
  3. The come back kid, Mark Cavendish, has broken records in this year’s Tour de France and has always been a legend in my opinion.
  4. Mario Cipollini is a blast from the past. Bike Heroes #5 and #6 are more personal additions to the list. These last two inductees have with no links to competitive cycling. Nevertheless the latest bike hero is a true competitor. An olympic champion no less.

Beth Shriever take a bow – you are (BMX) bike hero #7.

Let’s face it. BMX racing is more fun to watch than archery.

BMX racing is more accessible to young people who want to try it out than Equestrian sports.

Despite a funding cut from UkSport and a double leg break in the lead up to the games, Beth Shriever won an Olympic gold in Tokyo after a thrilling final race. Her gold medal represents a better return for team GB than the entire rowing squad can muster.

This girl is a new sensation, yet she humbly points out that it was an achievement just to get to Tokyo in the first place.

Beth has had to self finance her training and travel to events through a crowdfunding website and working as a teaching assistant in a primary school for 2 days a week.

Meanwhile the lottery funding for the Olympic rowing team is £24.6 million

Equestrian team get £12.5 million from UkSport

Even Archery gets £1.1 million to fund the Olympic squad.

From what I can see Beth won her gold medal in spite of and not with the support from UkSport.

There are some other interesting totals in these funding figures

https://www.uksport.gov.uk/our-work/investing-in-sport/current-funding-figures

Bike Hero #3 Mark Cavendish returns.

Well now, who would have believed it.

It is an emotional win

The post race interview says so much. Mark Cavendish is lost for words after his 31st win at the Tour de France.

The legend lives on.

And two days later Tour de France stage win #32 is chalked up. Again the break away is foiled and the sprinters battle out the finish. The man in green wins with apparent ease.

It looks like he is in love with cycling again and his smile says that all is well with the World.

This is a rider who is still winning stages of the World’s greatest 3 week cycle race at the age of 36. This is unprecedented. This simply should not be happening.

The next hurdle to over come is the Alps. Mountain stages just need to be completed within certain time limits, if he gives up or does not get to the finish line his Tour is over. With the help of his team mates he survives.

Back on the flat Cavendish is in his element. Stage 10 is a textbook finish. His team mates work together and go flat out to deliver the man in green almost to the finish line. Cavendish does the rest, making it look so easy. Win #33 is reached – just one away from the all time record.

A text book sprint finish

This is getting tougher – but there is no stopping the Manx Missile. A hot day in the South of France is where he draws level with Eddy Merckx.

Chapeau!

He has done it!

Those were the days Part 31

Maths and the male anatomy


I had forgotten all about this prank. Seeing the daffodils emerging again this spring brought back the memory of a well planned stroke pulled by a fellow reprobate at the West London Comprehensive.

His task was to teach Coordinates. Using a grid marked out as below, the point A on the grid has the coordinates (-2,3) for example.

The Maths department was in the main school building, on the floor above the reception area and Head’s Office.

Classrooms in the “maths corridor” looked out over the driveway into the school. There was a great view of the main school gates and a neat and tidily kept lawn, which lead to the reception area.

Deciding to break with convention and jazz up the lesson the teacher used the lawn at the front of the school as the class grid. He had pre-marked out the grid lines with pegs and garden string. Daffodil bulbs were used to mark the coordinates.

A list of coordinates was given to his class and it did not take long for the group of students to go outside and plot the points by burying a bulb in the correct location.

The bulbs took till the spring to sprout and reveal the pattern that they made. The view at ground level of the flowers appeared random. It was only when you looked from the classroom that the crude, cartoon like, diagram of the male anatomy became clearer.

The Upward Inflection.

Back in 2001 Stephen Fry appeared on the BBC tv panel show Room 101 and talked about his dislike of AQI or Australian Question Intonation.

This trait is when someone raises the pitch of their voice at the end of sentences as if they were questions, but in fact they are not. “Uptalk” is common amongst Australian and American accents and seems to prevail amongst younger people.

I understand that languages evolve, but listening to someone constantly use an upward inflection to finish every sentence makes the speaker appear whiny and insecure.

It is annoying, but what can you do?

Dave Prowse. A Bristol legend

Dave Prowse sadly passed away today. A true giant at 6 foot 6 inches tall, the man who famously played Darth Vader in the Star Wars Films.

As a young kid I remember him as the Green Cross Code Man. He taught us how to cross the road at a safe spot, and to stop, look and listen before we stepped off the kerb.

Another claim to fame was recorded at The Fleece and Firkin brew-pub in Bristol in the mid 1980’s.

The brew-pub concept was a novelty in those days. Real ale was a niche product and the majority of drinkers chose lager over anything else. However The Firkin chain had a unique selling point and that was the head splitting brew called “Dog Bolter”.

The Fleece was always a lively place, it had a big open bar and was part of the circuit of boozers you would stop in on a night out with the lads.

Today the pub has evolved into an excellent music venue and the walls are decorated with tour posters of the bands that have played there.

Back in the day the walls were hung with honours boards displaying names of those people who had drunk a gallon of Dog Bolter. It seems crazy now drinking 8 pints of high strength ale in a session,  just to get your name written up on a wooden board.

There were not many names up there. A list of people where one name stood out, as it was the only one with the successful completion time written next to it.

I cannot remember the time written up there, but it must have been a record breaker. The person who drank the quickest gallon of Dog Bolter was, you guessed it, Dave Prowse.

Films of 2019

The Sisters Brothers

Joaquin Phoenix is favourite to win an Oscar for Joker at the minute.

This time last year he was in this dark and gritty Western playing another gun for hire with a troubled past – (You Were Never Really Here).

John C Reilly stood out as well in a more serious role than his usual comedy parts. Lots of little details in the film that made it all the more real. Those flies!!

Booksmart

A heart warming coming of age movie. Some clever jokes and great characters. Passed the Mark Kermode 6 laugh test with ease.

The director, Olivia Wilde, found out her work had been censored by the airlines when she tried to watch the film on a Delta Airlines flight. Understandably she was not a happy bunny.

Woman at War

An Icelandic eco-warrior fights the good fight. Quirky humour and a feel good message made this film one of the standouts of the year. Great musical interludes from this random backing band and Ukrainian folk choir worked well, along with some stunning scenery.

It all sounds a bit weird, but it worked and I liked it a lot.

Official Secrets

Another thumbs up for Kiera Knightley in a lead role that she carries off well. She was excellent in Collette earlier in the year, but here you get to see how versatile she has become as an actor.

You also get a good reminder of what a slippery so and so Tony Blair was.

For Sama

One of the few 18 certificate films I have ever seen at the cinema. You do not get many these days.

Graphic footage of children caught up in the violence of Syria was not any easy watch at times, but well worth seeking out. With the award season starting up this film will hopefully get the recognition and rewards it deserves.

Climate Conferences and Contrails

Another Climate Conference in Madrid made think today:

Recycle/use less plastic

Eat less meat

Avoid air travel

Try to live car free

These are some of the things one could do to help save the Planet for future generations.

According to Greenpeace one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and hence climate change is to “skip the airport” as air travel is so energy-intensive.

The UK is one of the biggest nations when it comes to consumption of aircraft flights. Admittedly we do live on an island, but Britons took 126.2 million flights in 2018. This figure is set to rise even further according to most forecasters.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Rachel Kennerley admits: “Some trips can only realistically be made by plane, but aviation plays a big part in contributing to climate change. So it is worrying if a significant proportion of the British public think that people should be able to travel by plane as much as they like.”

The Science is now out there. Check out for yourself and see what each flight produces using a Carbon Footprint calculator and remember it is not just carbon dioxide, but there are other pollutants produced by aircraft that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Having flown a lot in the past, in ignorance of the eco-mess I was creating, I cannot really sit in judgement and start flight-shaming those that choose to fly in the future. But in 2020 I am not going to fly anywhere and make things worse. #flightfree2020