It’s very tempting to assign people a character according to their job, or pet, or hair style, or, most interesting for me given current activities, to the vehicles they drive. I shouldn’t do it, but it passes the time. Grinding up and down hills on my training rides, dodging in and out of city traffic or trying not to be blown off the bike on fast dual-carriageways, I’ve taken to logging how different vehicles treat this kerbside irritant. The best, most courteous and considerate have consistently been truck drivers. There will be exceptions, of course, but my experience over the last few months is that they regularly pull well out when overtaking, often crossing over to the next lane, and on more than one occasion they have even blocked or held-up traffic at roundabouts to give me safe passage. The worst – well, it’s a draw between white-van-man and hot-hatchbacks with fit-yourself exhaust pipes the size of sewers. Commuters are ruthless, Post Office vans fast and unpredictable, shoppers blind (even when they seem to look me straight in the eyes) and buses patient beyond all my prejudicial expectations. More than one has followed me down a bus lane at 12 miles an hour rather than overtake then block me at the next bus stop. It’s quite unnerving though, and pushes me to go faster and faster. I suppose that’s actually quite a useful training technique, but it’s not my most effective. The one that really burns me out is the FIA, or Female Induced Acceleration. There is one simple rule: passing any attractive women must be done at considerably increased speed. I heartily recommend this to the British Olympic Cycling team as a proven technique for improving stamina, acceleration and muscular strength. It can, though, be quite demoralising when energy levels fall to a wobbling, shaky and unimpressive zero, heavy panting is no longer a reference to cycling shorts, and speed falls to sauntering walking pace. It’s then only pride that stops me getting off and pushing.
Off the bike, the pace of things is also hotting up. We have three brilliant OHMI volunteers now, researching and promoting OHMI matters, and running the Facebook and the Twitter accounts. OHMI material is beginning to show-up around the world; in China, Japan, the USA, across Europe and, of course, the UK. The Ars Electronica workshop is fixed for September 4th in Linz and, most scarily, the bike ride starts in just 5 days. So this is my last pre-ride blog. One of the team will post my daily blog on the website everyday during the ride (I’ll phone it through to them each evening). While I’m on the road, Martin will work out options for turning pledges into payments, and hopefully there will also be a few more coming through before I get to that glass of Paulliac!
Many thanks to everyone who has sent supportive emails. Can I wish myself Bon Voyage?