30 November 2011

Riders on the Storm

There's a price to be paid for a morning ride to the station in glorious, unseasonal sunshine: it's the ride back home in the evening, three hours after darkness fell, with the wind blasting what feels like sleet at you. But the feeling of righteousness, well-being, downright superiority, over those unfortunates who don't understand the romance of self-propulsion that you feel at the station on the way to work in the morning is the best part of all.

Even better: I left the office to walk back to Paddington this evening, breaking into a jog as I crossed the road, purely with a view to getting out of the way of the traffic - and it felt so good, I didn't stop (except for junctions) until I reached Paddington. That's the way it should be.

29 November 2011


In a desperate effort to secure some of the undoubted benefits of running, and when I had finished the urgent outstanding matters that had to be dealt with today, I put on running shorts, tee shirt, and (partly in the interest of speed, and to preserve my calf muscles) shoes and socks, then looking at the weather, added a waterproof jacket, and headed out.
My leaving home coincided with the start of the hitherto-unknown local monsoon season. The roads were awash, so there was hardly a dry patch on which to place my feet. I hadn't even reached the postbox (where I entrusted two FT crossword puzzles to the Royal Mail, or as the Postal Services Act would have it delivered them to the post office) before my shoes and socks were soaked. I thought I could still manage a few laps of the playing field, but when I got there the driving rain was so thick it could have been fog and the wind was enough almost to stop me in my tracks. I reckoned the long grass would be so wet, I might as well have been running through a few inches of water, so I turned round and the wind carried me home.
By the time I'd dried myself off the rain had stopped, of course.

15 November 2011

I ran

When I cycle to the station to go to work (an activity that, I regret to say, is on hold at present while the weather is as cold as it is) I use an old railway line, courtesy of Dr Beeching who does not really qualify to be referred to as the cyclist's friend. And occasionally I run it, though a five mile run on the way to work is just a bit much - having said which, five years ago I was running four-and-a-half regularly in the morning and the evening, so perhaps I should be more adventurous.
I don't know whether Italy had its own Dr Beeching, but what happened along the Ligurian Riviera was not that they dispensed with the railway, rather that they shifted it a little inland, and for much of its length underground, then turned the old one into a cycle-cum-running track. A sensational one.
Probably no surprise that on a Saturday morning it should be well-used by cycling clubs, along with individual serious-looking cyclists - no surprise at all, because every piece of tarmac in the country seems to have them. They ride responsibly, and (on the roads) cars seem to treat them respectfully, so it's as different from England as you could get. I was a little wary about stepping across the white line when pedestrians came at me two abreast, lest a cyclist come up at speed from behind me, but a prudent glance over my shoulder was all that was needed when I was forced into the cycle lanes.

For some distance I passed and repassed a young English couple on a side-by-side pedal quadricycle, chatting with them as we fell in alongside each other, then they seemed to tire of the game or went to do some sightseeing. It was hard - impossible - to believe it was November: not too hot to run, but quite warm enough (though it was the middle of the day - I certainly wouldn't be out running at that time in the summer).

The route goes through several tunnels and across a number of bridges - how many, of course, depends on how much of the old railway you run along - including the bridge from which I took this photo (those white birds dictating the choice of music clip for this posting), of the Argentina river. I was doing a prescribed distance, having been dropped in San Remo and being expected for a picnic lunch (in November?) on the beach at Riva, but I could have gone on for ever.

Actually, that's a complete lie. Had I been wearing clumpy cushioned shoes I'd probably have gone further: had I bothered to take my compression tights on holiday with me (and space in our single case was definitely at a premium) I might have gone further still, but after five miles in huaraches my calves knew it was time to stop - and it took me a week to be able to walk normally again ...