Friday, 27 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Posted by Highwaylass at 11:47 PERMALINK
Thursday, 19 November 2009
I'm reading the rather splendid "59 Seconds - Think a Little, Change a Lot" by Richard Wiseman at the moment. It suits me because I have developed the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD and a worrying tendency towards narcolepsy. But I digress...
Chapter 1 is all about happiness. Materialism is not the route, it seems, to long-term happinss. We might feel happy after buying a new thing, but it soon wears off. This is known as "hedonistic habituation." Wiseman explains: "humans derive a great deal of enjoyment from any new form of positive experience. However, give anyone the same wonderful experience time and again, and they quickly become familiar with their new source of joy and cease to derive anywhere near as much pleasure from it."
The path to lasting happiness is to create "a constantly changing psychological landscape" in which "the brain is fed with ever-changing positive experiences that prevent habituation and so prolong happiness."
Now, I'm not going to argue that buying a new bike isn't a new source of joy(apart from having to endure Haylock's first law of meterology for the week subsequent to purchase). But it's not an end in itself. They stop being shiny and bits start to fall off. But they fall off in pursuit of that cornucopia of "ever-changing positive experiences."
Just as you can never step twice in the same river, you can never ride the same road twice - particularly in the big-sky country of the Fens, where I am mostly riding at the moment. Every ride is different, from the weather to the light, the changing levels of muppetry of the other road users, or simply the time of day.
But for me the best ride is always the one that brings the unexpected. Riding down to Swansea for a meeting last month I left the A-road, chicaned through the traffic calming, passed the GLF sign, crested a rise and laughed out loud at the sheer outrageous glory of the vista in front of me: two lanes of perfect black-top, twisting away across some of Wales's most rolling and wooly hills, and totally, serenely and beatifully empty (except for the sheep).
Hedonistic habituation, my arse. As I don't think Professor Wiseman would say.
Monday, 16 November 2009
The last time I paid any attention to Spurs was when Jurgen Klinsmann played for them, for while the mysteries of the off-side rule pass me by, I yield to no-one in my appreciation of a finely-turned Teutonic calf. That doesn't stop me wincing at reports that their goalie will be out of action for some time with broken wrists and a damaged pelvis after an unplanned dismount from his GS.
His injuries, to my amateur mind, suggest an involuntary Superman across the bonnet of the Fiesta. But although the story has had a fair amount of exposure, I've yet to see any journalistic speculation that the accident might have been caused by the car driver. Cudicini seems to be regarded as a victim of his own recklessness in choosing a motorcycle.
Compare this with the reporting of Ronaldo's confrontation between a tunnel wall and his Ferrari - he gets to be "forlorn and bewildered."
I complained to the BBC about their report on Hairy Biker Si King's recent crash, which gave the impression he'd stacked it of his own free will. It was the use of the word "thrown" that really offended me, as it's a choice of words which just reinforces non-bikers' prejudice that bikes are inherently unstable and risky. "Knocked" would have been more appropriate. Still waiting for a reply...
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Fatal Friday 13th certainly lived up to its billing - my Friday afternoon bolt for home came to an abrupt halt on the slip road to the M6, where the traffic was only just shy of standstill. It's usually busy, but not that bad, so I looked wistfully at the nice wide filtering strip, thinking maybe taking the car was a bad choice. Two miles later, we all got chucked off the road, for the whole motorway was closed from Junction 2 as far as the M1 -on account of 2 lorry drivers driving into each other. According to Sally Traffic, there were accidents on the M1, the M4, the M60 and the M25 too.
Because I am a muppet I didn't have a map book in the car, which made heading down a B-road in the hope of heading east rather more traumatic than it needed to be. But because I am a geek I'd recently downloaded Google Maps to my phone. Using the sat-nav on your phone is presumably just as illegal as holding it to talk while you are driving, but it was a godsend. PB gave me a route from his PC at work and the phone gave me a glowing blue ball (no sniggering at the back) which bounced along the screen to tell me I was making the right choices. Which was immensely reassuring as the road dwindled till it was only slightly wider than the car and hedged in by fallen trees. Now if they could only invent one that did the same for life choices...
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Filtering the queue at Histon roundabout I saw a pack of headlights approaching at pace in my mirrors (I do look in them sometimes, if only to make sure they're still there). Not, in itself, an unusual occurrance - October, new term, parents finally persuaded - and I waited for them to sweep past in a burst of Relentless-fuelled contempt for anything not born in a year with a 9 in front of it. They tucked in behind me instead, which was the first unusual thing. The second unusual thing was the giggling, for 16-year old scooter boys do not, in my part of the world at least, tend to hoot with laughter in the autumn sunshine. Nor do they wear mascara, lippy, miniskirts and jeggings.
I was being tailed by a trio of scooter chicks.
Sadly I was not wearing any of the above, so I have no idea if they realised they were following a lady biker. But following me they were, which gave me a dilemma. Should I be riding to set an example, or would that be unbearably pompous? I compromised by riding at 9/10ths of normal, which meant I still went through the amber - and was secretly pleased to note that the girls didn't follow me.
I headed down the A14, they headed down the A428, shouting out to each other and having a whale of a time.
I've seen the future of motorcycling. And it watches Gossip Girl...
Thursday, 5 November 2009
My rally is usually like a cask-strength Macallan - savoured slowly and with a lot of water added. This year it was more like an Ardbeg Supervona - a smack in the throat with a blunt instrument. I mislaid anticipation and forward planning and have had to scrabble for LMs in the margins of everyday life. No week-long trip to Scotland - for the second year running - to ride under the pines, dodge the deer and get nibbled by the midgies. And I was thwarted in several attempts to get to Wales...
Have I become one of those people for whom riding can only happen when the demands of real life have been satisfied? For the rub there is that the demands of real life are infinite and hydra-headed, and if I allow it to take over there will be no time for frivolities like visiting Venta Silurum at dusk.
Still, better a rally of rags and patches than no rally at all. Admiring Panamaniac's photo albums at Conkers, I was amazed to find I've been doing this since 2003. Some people will see 6 years of landmark-bagging as little more than an astonishing waste of time and petrol, but (at the risk of sounding like REO Speedwagon) it's taken me to places that on my own I'd never find. It's made me a better rider - goat tracks and the Road of Baas would not have been attempted if there hadn't been points at the end of them. I've peturbed and baffled the locals. I've been to John O'Groats. I've stood on a plinth. And I've eaten too many of JD's bacon rolls.
This year was good, because there is no such thing as a bad ride. Next year will be better - because what's the future for if not to look forward to?