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The Goalden Fleece

The Goalden Fleece

by / / 61 posts

Happy living in our stressful lives is all about organization. For instance, I like to sort the tasks first by priority and then group tasks of equal priority into buckets of minor priorities. Software developers creatively call this approach to organization a “bucket sort”. This helps break down what appears to be an insurmountable mess of work and separate it into consumable, understandable units.

Being the optimist that I am, after prioritizing, I start by sorting my activities into those which I would rather consume a cyanide tablet than tackle, and set a goal to work through those first. Once I’ve completed those, I feel a sense of accomplishment that helps build the morale needed to tackle the remaining items. Having completed the “cyanide” bucket, I feel better about tackling the “wrist-slitting” bucket and working my way gradually towards “beating myself to death with a rusty hammer“, which represents the least appealing of the tasks.

It’s all about using the momentum gained from the last activity to drive the next, which is also how I approach my training. It can be hard to find the motivation to remain disciplined in your training when the days are dark and wet; when your goals are many months away it is far too easy to find other priorities when there is nothing immediate towards which to drive. The training becomes erratic, and our progress is stunted. Without a clear plan, we react to our schedules and external demands rather than working around them; goals force us to prioritize our lives in a way that leads us towards success and the secret to Training Properly is to cascade your goals in a way that allows for steady progress that builds toward the greater objective.

However much we love Cycling, getting better at it requires routine hard work and suffering, an endeavor whose most reliable variation is marked by an unplanned visit from the Man with the Hammer and very few glimpses of his lovely wife, La Volupte. We need small successes to fuel our desire to climb back on the bike to continue The Work despite the cold rain lashing down. For the last year, my training has been focussed on the Heck of the North, which I will sadly be missing due to unforeseeable circumstances at work. Missing out on the opportunity to compete in Northern Minnesota finds me deflated and reluctant to get on the bike and suffer despite the excellent form I’m enjoying at the moment. But as one goal is passed by, another settles into focus, and my sights are already shifting around the bend towards the 2015 Keepers Tour, which will be returning to Belgium during the Cobbled Classics.

The days are shortening and the sun hangs low in the sky when it isn’t blocked out by a thick blanket of clouds. The morning mist keeps the roads damp and drives a chill into my bones. A few weeks ago, I was dreading the change. Today, I welcome it. The wet is coming, and I have my goal set. I look forward to tapping out my rhythm to the metronome of raindrops dripping from the brim of my cap.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Defining Moments // Keepers Tour // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @Frank- Are you going to put that cracking form to use at the Falling LeaVes Cogal?




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  2. @Haldy

    So was ’70.

    Not to mention ’68,

    And 2001.

    And 2002.




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  3. Which brings up the question: Cancellara and Boonen are the two riders who have dominated the cobbles for the last decade. Only one of them has race them during the classics in the wet, only one has raced them in the we during the Tour.

    Only one has bitched about how wet cobbles are no place for racing in the wet.

    Assuming my Heck sacrifice results in a wet cobbled season, which of them do you think will book their next Paris-Roubaix?

    Boo-boo-BOONEN!!!




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  4. @Frank..let’s not forget 1994.

    or better yet…1984, and the reason why my son’s name is Sean-




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  5. @frank

    Which brings up the question: Cancellara and Boonen are the two riders who have dominated the cobbles for the last decade. Only one of them has race them during the classics in the wet, only one has raced them in the we during the Tour.

    Only one has bitched about how wet cobbles are no place for racing in the wet.

    Assuming my Heck sacrifice results in a wet cobbled season, which of them do you think will book their next Paris-Roubaix?

    Boo-boo-BOONEN!!!

    As much as I like Niki Terpstra( given his amazing turns of speed on the 6 day boards this last winter), it pained me to see him ride off and win Roubaix this year…I was dearly hoping that Boonen was going to take it!




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  6. @frank

    @Nate

    Dude, that fucking blows.

    Yeah its not like I’ve been training for this for 359 days or anything. And I’m in cracking form too.

    Yes and aren’t you all sponsors? fuck that shit.




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  7. @Ron hilarious in all the times I have looked at that photo I have never noticed the spare wheels there.




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  8. @Frank You got the first 3 letters right.




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  9. I love it when the day’s ride coincides with a great article. 50km commute home, 10°C, unrelenting headwind and rain the last 10km. Not exactly a #9 ride, but a reminder the weather is turning here in the northern hemi.

    Between the ride, Frank’s musings, and the inspiring pics from #9 races, the goal is decided — Hell of the North Salt Lake (the day before Paris-Roubaix). I’ve felt a vague foreboding as the days shorten, but seem to now feel the pre-race butterflies and am eager to plan milestones from April back to now with clarity and purpose.




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  10. @Haldy I’m a big Terpstra fan and happy that he got a PR win but that finale was massisve demonstration of anti V. 10k from the line and the fucking who’s who of Classics hardmen all together and not one of the fuckers tries to match Terpstra? What the!




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  11. We’re on a different planet, it seems, when it comes to the weather – but at last I’ve seen temps dip under 20c at night and there are clouds out of my laboratory’s windows, so it seems like by the end of the month arm-warmers will finally become mandatory equipment again. Oh-fucking-yeah!

    I can unpack my revered and loved warmers, jerseys and gilets, the knee-warmers and belgian booties, the windproofs and the warm gloves. For a cyclist in the land of eternal summer, it seems I’ve amassed unbelievable amounts of Rule #9 gear. I guess that’s just envy…

    In Israel, when it rains it pours buckets, visibility is non-existant and the roads are flooded (and oily), which means I dare to ride a lot less than I should. Gran Fondos and other closed-road events in the winter? Sign me up! Group-rides with a blinking support car? Alright. But barring those, I can always get a quality turbo session with the VMH with wide-open windows looking outside.




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  12. Great article Frank – and just in time for the first few days of single digit degrees in Ireland. We have had an unusually warm September and I have been eyeing the arm/knee warmers wondering when they will come out.

    Heading into my second proper year of cycling I have gotten a coach and set out a training plan with a view towards bossing my local club rides and stronger performances in next season’s gran fondos.

    I do take pleasure in making deposits in the V bank on cold wet December nights knowing I can draW doWn come the spring.




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  13. Sorry you can’t make it to this Frank – there are upsides in that I’ll finish a place higher on Saturday.

    The beer here is surprisingly good by the way. The jet lag – not so much.




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  14. @ChrissyOne

    If you’re free on Saturday we should go for a ride. Then we can complain to each other about missing the Heck.

    I’ll start the complaining right now. I was registered before work intervened . . . even my back up gravel ride is in jeopardy. First world problems, etc,. etc




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  15. @Frank As some have already commented, the article is wonderfully timed. Yesterdays ride in to work and back, NE UK was a reasonable 19c. This morning I was smuggling peanuts under the jersey in a fucking freezing 5c. Still, the sun was shining, the winds were low.




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  16. Frank, Haldy, please continue, but the Rule #9 image selected is 1988. Mostly inspired by Franco Chioccioli’s effort to continue without gloves or a jacket. He paid a price that day but did not back down.




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  17. I look forward to the impending Michigan winter…..while most will have hung their bikes up hoping to dodge the Man with the Hammer, I will out there willing and ready to receive the punishment only he can bring. The commitment must be year round to avoid backsliding…the purifying effect of a bitterly cold winter morning amongst the calm and stillness is unmatched by any other season. There are rewards to be had but you gotta pay the piper…




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  18. @Cog Is there a temperature limit that you hit ?? 28 FËšuck is where it stops for me.




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  19. @Cog

    I look forward to the impending Michigan winter…..while most will have hung their bikes up hoping to dodge the Man with the Hammer, I will out there willing and ready to receive the punishment only he can bring. The commitment must be year round to avoid backsliding…the purifying effect of a bitterly cold winter morning amongst the calm and stillness is unmatched by any other season. There are rewards to be had but you gotta pay the piper…

    so true – the treasures of cycling in the cold, silent darkness of winter are worth the price




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  20. @unversio

    @Cog Is there a temperature limit that you hit ?? 28 FËšuck is where it stops for me.

    Here in the hinterlands of central Indiana, the lowest temperature I’ve begun a ride at was 7 F. Last winter gave us plenty of opportunity for Rule V & 9 rides.




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  21. How can we not have good ol’ Uncle Paul’s photo here.

    http://www.velominati.com/anatomy-of-a-photo/anatomy-of-a-photo-agony/

    And LeMan as well

    With no goals I become a fat slob. Gained 4 kilos over the last 2 years. I have found that I HAVE to have short term and long term, concrete goals or I become amazingly non-motivated. It never was a problem earlier in my life as I was always chasing some dream but the last few years I have become, alas, pretty content and contentment, while nice for a few weeks, breeds complacency. Looking forward to a few great events next year and started training IN EARNEST a few weeks ago on the bike. Feels good to be hurting in an old familiar way again!




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  22. @unversio

    @Cog Is there a temperature limit that you hit ?? 28 FËšuck is where it stops for me.

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….




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  23. @Haldy

    @Frank- Are you going to put that cracking form to use at the Falling LeaVes Cogal?

    If I still have it, abso-fuckin-lootely.

    That route kicks my ass every time.




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  24. I really hope we get to ride on wet cobbles next Spring…




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  25. @unversio

    @Cog Is there a temperature limit that you hit ?? 28 FËšuck is where it stops for me.

    Air temp of 25 for me in Wisconsin. I figure I generate some wind chill that takes it a bit further down.




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  26. @Buck Rogers

    How can we not have good ol’ Uncle Paul’s photo here.

    http://www.velominati.com/anatomy-of-a-photo/anatomy-of-a-photo-agony/

    And LeMan as well

    With no goals I become a fat slob. Gained 4 kilos over the last 2 years. I have found that I HAVE to have short term and long term, concrete goals or I become amazingly non-motivated. It never was a problem earlier in my life as I was always chasing some dream but the last few years I have become, alas, pretty content and contentment, while nice for a few weeks, breeds complacency. Looking forward to a few great events next year and started training IN EARNEST a few weeks ago on the bike. Feels good to be hurting in an old familiar way again!

    That picture of LeMan says it all as to why he’s a champion. Face covered in shite and still looks happy.




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  27. PS If LeMond had been riding this year’s Tour would he have moaned about stage 5? Would he fuck.




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  28. What I find interesting, as someone who has come to cycling late and almost without noticing it was happening, is that the goals don’t need to be big or momentous. Getting more miles in this month than last, shaving a few seconds off the commute to work, pushing the weekend ride just a little bit further, or taking on a hill that last time past I turned away from in fear or (worse) had to stop half way up for a breather. It’s hardly the stuff of legends. But it’s enough. It takes me on. My Cycling Sensei, ten years my junior, and a decent club rider, takes to Strava after each ride to see if he’s collected KOM trophies. I do the same, despite being ranked in the hundreds on most local segments, to see if I’ve beaten my previous PR.

    Seeing my own development makes a massive difference, and testing myself against challenges that I’m not sure I can complete is the greatest feeling. It has led me into taking on the Eddy Merckx challenge on Strava this month, and that in turn led me to putting in my longest ride to date today in order to try to keep up with the schedule to complete the challenge. And it will be that which impels me (compels me?) to ride this weekend even though the weather in the UK is now predicted to take a turn for the Flemish on Saturday morning. But I’ve still got another 260km to ride before next Thursday, and there’s only so far you can extend a commute.

    Who cares whether I complete the challenge or not? Who will even notice? Probable no-one but me, and perhaps my Sensei, but that isn’t the point. I have no-one to compete against but myself, and there’s no way I’m going to lose to that bastard.




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  29. @ChrissyOne

    If you’re free on Saturday we should go for a ride. Then we can complain to each other about missing the Heck.

    I’ll be busy looking for answers in the bottom of bottles.




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  30. @Haldy

    @unversio 88 was very inspiring, as was 1980-

    Such a great shot, but here’s a much less famous one:

    And please lets not forget RdV Parting The Waters in ’73.




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  31. @frank

    @frank

    @Haldy

    @Frank- Are you going to put that cracking form to use at the Falling LeaVes Cogal?

    If I still have it, abso-fuckin-lootely.

    That route kicks my ass every time.

    As a former resident of Oak Harbor…I am intimately familiar with the middle 1/3 of the route…expect a flurry of attacks there… ;-)




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  32. Awesome freeze frames of glory days…

    Nothing gets me out of bed and on the bike in the dark like knowing you have a target, and that even one week off will hamper the build of form to that end. It can take 4 months for me to build (I have a poor constitution and ability I now assume), given the inevitable sicknesses that interrupt training (thanks kids!).

    My buddy and I always set a target event in spring, which means we still need to drag our asses out through the entirety/eternity of the dark, wind and rain of winter, when all the fair weather summer riders are still asleep, getting fat.

    It’s constant checking of forecasts, thinking about adequate attire (there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choice) and the dread that despite knowing it is going to rain and blow, you better get your ass out there or else the fine but fickle Goddess of Fitness will desert us..




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  33. @leftsideoverhere

    Who cares whether I complete the challenge or not? Who will even notice? Probable no-one but me, and perhaps my Sensei, but that isn’t the point. I have no-one to compete against but myself, and there’s no way I’m going to lose to that bastard.

    I will only add, that those who cheat only cheat themselves, to what must be a very hollow podium.




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  34. @Optimiste

    I love it when the day’s ride coincides with a great article. 50km commute home, 10°C, unrelenting headwind and rain the last 10km. Not exactly a #9 ride, but a reminder the weather is turning here in the northern hemi.

    Between the ride, Frank’s musings, and the inspiring pics from #9 races, the goal is decided “” Hell of the North Salt Lake (the day before Paris-Roubaix). I’ve felt a vague foreboding as the days shorten, but seem to now feel the pre-race butterflies and am eager to plan milestones from April back to now with clarity and purpose.

    Mission accomplished! Awesome goal, that should see you through the mess!

    @Harminator

    @Frank You got the first 3 letters right.

    Those guys rocked that day. Look at Nibbles back there digging in. So awesome.

    @tessar

    I can unpack my revered and loved warmers, jerseys and gilets, the knee-warmers and belgian booties, the windproofs and the warm gloves. For a cyclist in the land of eternal summer, it seems I’ve amassed unbelievable amounts of Rule #9 gear. I guess that’s just envy…

    Half the fun is in the gear. Some for cooking, by the way.




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  35. @rfreese888

    Great article Frank – and just in time for the first few days of single digit degrees in Ireland. We have had an unusually warm September and I have been eyeing the arm/knee warmers wondering when they will come out.

    We’ve had such a great year, I have an amazing tan. I haven’t even looked at my cold weather kit in months and months. Most summers in Seattle are good, but I’ll always ride with arm warmers a bit…not this year. Amazing.

    Heading into my second proper year of cycling I have gotten a coach and set out a training plan with a view towards bossing my local club rides and stronger performances in next season’s gran fondos.

    Congrats! Just remember to keep it fun and light.

    I do take pleasure in making deposits in the V bank on cold wet December nights knowing I can draW doWn come the spring.

    Races are won in VVinter.




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  36. @Cog

    I look forward to the impending Michigan winter…..while most will have hung their bikes up hoping to dodge the Man with the Hammer, I will out there willing and ready to receive the punishment only he can bring. The commitment must be year round to avoid backsliding…the purifying effect of a bitterly cold winter morning amongst the calm and stillness is unmatched by any other season. There are rewards to be had but you gotta pay the piper…

    Are you doing any fat bike work up there? I have a fantasy for a fat bike with drop bars.

    @unversio

    @Cog Is there a temperature limit that you hit ?? 28 FËšuck is where it stops for me.

    10F/-12C is doable if its dry. If its wet, then the freezing point is the coldest you will ever be in your life.




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  37. @Buck Rogers

    With no goals I become a fat slob. Gained 4 kilos over the last 2 years. I have found that I HAVE to have short term and long term, concrete goals or I become amazingly non-motivated. It never was a problem earlier in my life as I was always chasing some dream but the last few years I have become, alas, pretty content and contentment, while nice for a few weeks, breeds complacency. Looking forward to a few great events next year and started training IN EARNEST a few weeks ago on the bike. Feels good to be hurting in an old familiar way again!

    Quote of the month right there.

    @piwakawaka

    @leftsideoverhere

    Who cares whether I complete the challenge or not? Who will even notice? Probable no-one but me, and perhaps my Sensei, but that isn’t the point. I have no-one to compete against but myself, and there’s no way I’m going to lose to that bastard.

    I will only add, that those who cheat only cheat themselves, to what must be a very hollow podium.

    As is that! Two in a row!

    @Beers

    It’s constant checking of forecasts, thinking about adequate attire (there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choice)

    Sean Kelly: “You can’t tell how cold it is by looking out the kitchen window. You have to get dressed and go out training and when you get back, you know how cold it was.”




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  38. @frank

    @GogglesPizano So the question is, are you observing Rule #11 or not?

    As much as I would like to spend the week hanging around with a bunch of too fat to climb, peaking in two months velominati riding, drinking and freezing our asses off all over the cobbled countryside, something inside keeps telling me that if I chose that path I would no longer have any Rule #11 conflicts or have to worry about staying below the S-1 bike limit. I will likely be watching the internet feed on the poolside/beachside on the iPad…..




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  39. 1988




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  40. Psychologically I really had to dig down to some place that I hope I never have to go again. Even though it was the most difficult moment, as a person and an athlete, just to know that if it gets really, really, really bad I can go pretty deep to do what I really believe in and what I really want to do.

    – Andy Hampsten

    Cycling Legends: Andy Hampsten
    http://www.bicycling.com/content/cycling-legends-andy-hampsten (Bruce Hildenbrand)




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  41. @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.




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  42. @frank

    I really hope we get to ride on wet cobbles next Spring…





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  43. @markb

    @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.

    Need some creative mind to come up with a bit for the Lexicon to describe while descending in the cold or wind and tears well up behind the eyewear in the corner of your eyes. Roy Orbison ??




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  44. @Chris

    I’m not sure I would make the same choice as the rider in the middle. Although its probably the safest place given the irregularity of the sides and gutter.

    Either way, all those riders have some stones riding on at full gas.




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  45. The weather in the title picture is outside my window right now, only with more snow. I now have six months of commuting on a mountain bike with spiked tyres to look forward to…




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  46. Training through the winter is always harder (in Sydney so we have just finished our winter) and I did my fair share of complaining. But now as race season is almost upon us I am enjoying seeing those who took the whole winter off struggle to get some form back. Race season and goals keep me going but the fear of having to start from scratch at the beginning of the season is even more motivation to keep ticking the boxes through winter. My biggest race to date is about 5 weeks away so Winter training- I’m counting on you!




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  47. @frank

    @tessar

    I can unpack my revered and loved warmers, jerseys and gilets, the knee-warmers and belgian booties, the windproofs and the warm gloves. For a cyclist in the land of eternal summer, it seems I’ve amassed unbelievable amounts of Rule #9 gear. I guess that’s just envy…

    Half the fun is in the gear. Some for cooking, by the way.

    Same, but different. Give me a wok, two pots, a strong flame and a razor-sharp knife, and I’ll be the happiest in the world.

    But give me three gilets, a windproof, a rainproof, long-sleeve jerseys and jackets, six kinds of gloves, five weights of baselayers, booties and shoe-covers and an obscene amount of socks, and I’ll still look at the catalogue every day, skim the sales sections and imagine living in a climate where I won’t have to justify a Gabba. Especially since even near 10c, I prefer the flexibility of arm-warmers and a lightweight gilet to a cumbersome jacket.

    If I get the UK research position I applied for, I might regret that and wish I had my 20-rainy-days-annually climate again.




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  48. @unversio

    @markb

    @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.

    Need some creative mind to come up with a bit for the Lexicon to describe while descending in the cold or wind and tears well up behind the eyewear in the corner of your eyes. Roy Orbison ??

    Tears of a Clown?




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  49. @markb When there’s no one around.




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  50. Inspired stuff all around. Definitely struggling to get out in the dark.

    @piwakawaka i feel it. I know it. Its emptier than a glass of cheap light beer.




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