One week to go…

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Good morning folks

I trust you had thee most splendid of splendid weekends.
Here is the weekly round-up from the big, bad city that never sleeps…

One week to go!

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(Will they last until next Sunday, let alone next Sunday!)

Well, after a short, sharp 5 weeks of training, the Lima Marathon is just one week away.
Last year I ran every day for 6 weeks without a day off, this time I’ve given myself one day off a week. I’ve only got as high as 65 miles in a week, it won’t be enough but my legs are still working!

I took a crashing fall on Thursday (on the road), as I laid on the ground winded and bruised, people walked around me tutting at me for taking up pavement space. There are some devious little potholes in these crumbling sidewalks. I must have looked like a Wind Turbine being chopped down; flailing arms, legs and feet. I was hoping to regain my footing in time but with size 13s and crap reactions, it was never going to happen! Crunch :-/

I’m not expecting a world record next Sunday (after all, road marathons are all about the time).
It is actually intended as a springboard for more exciting and exotic things than lumbering round 44km of Lima tarmac. I have another plan up for my sleeve, this is a warm-up.
Watch this space…

Very close shave #1544

Near-misses, hairy moments and close shaves are part and parcel of riding a Clunk around the mean streets of this madhouse. I go through phases of intense road rage, mainly due to the stupidity, ignorance and lack of any kind of anticipation of the majority of drivers. It beggars belief.
In up-market Miraflores on Tuesday I was first away at the lights and accelerating (first gear has nothing and second is only marginally better. This Clunk wasn’t built for speed!)
However, the good thing is that I was accelerating, because a Toyota Corolla stopped at the lights at the crossroads I was crossing had a sudden rush of blood to the head and decided to go for the gap between the front-runner (me) and the second place (everybody on my tail).

The driver missed my back wheel by less than 6”. Happenings like this are a daily occurrence here, but the very next day it was a bit too close for comfort…

My ride to work takes 12 minutes. My ride home takes 2 minutes. Due to the contrived (idiotic) layout of the roads here, this is often the case when you go anywhere.

Workbound I have 2 choices: Av. Javier Prado and the roundabout gauntlet (nobody has a clue what to do at the big roundabouts, so it’s a jerking “should-I-stay-or-should-I-go” stop/startfest) or Via Evitamiento, which translates to Ring Road, Turnpike, Toll Road or Speedway. It basically means to avoid something and I wish I had avoided it on Wednesday morning.

The worst part is the negotiation of the “Trebol” (Clover leaf, as it would look so from the air), a botch job of a spaghetti junction looping-the-loop and joining two main routes. As the slip road is shared/fought over by those entering and leaving, it’s a war of nerves. I have to do this twice and then join “Evitamiento”, where the slip road (again battling against those trying to leave) is at the brow of a hill, which is next to an exit road and a main bus stop. Nobody anticipates/gets in lane, so as soon as you get on there, you have somebody cutting you up at the last second, Frenetic sums it up perfectly.On Wednesday I had managed to survive this initial hotbed of traffic passion and was almost in the clear…

I was in the middle/third lane (of five), passing an orange Toyota on my inside. I suddenly noticed a white truck, bearing down right on me at a rate of knots. I signalled and tried to cut in on my inside, but Toyotaman honked his horn and sped up, (his inside lane was clear).

Suddenly the truck, a middle sized haulage beast violently smashed my left hand mirror with one of its vertical lats. Toyotaman saw this but still wouldn’t yield (nobody yields here, ever).

Then, the next lat on the truck crashed into my mirror and span my clutch lever around (the mirror is attached to this) and the next lat did the same. It happened suddenly, but seemed to last forever. I saw the driver of the truck looking in his mirror. A short, tubby, piggy-eyed bloke with short curly hair. I saw him and he saw me, yet he still didn’t budge and neither did Toyotaman.

I shuddered at the thought of the truck catching my handlebars (about 6″ below my mirror) as this would have sent me ricocheting into the Toyota and then probably under the rear wheels of the truck, so I had to lean the clunk over as far as I could to my right , avoiding more lats until I could escape out the back of this tunnel of love.

All of this probably lasted about 10 seconds. I never once saw my life flash before my eyes, but it left a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to chase the truck and have a serious word, but  Icouldn’t change gear and I’d arrived at the lights where I turn off. White truck and Toyotaman went off into the distance, whilst I thanked whoever was shining down on me that day.

clunkIt could have been a lot worse!

Had I gone down on the tarmac, I doubt I’d be writing this now. People die every day on the roads. The funeral is the next day and then they’re just another statistic (although I doubt stats are kept here). Here it’s not the vehicle that knocks you down that does the damage, it’s the loonbag right up your tail, who is going too fast to stop. People here drive way too fast for their own abilities.

I bought a new mirror for £1.20 Like the last one (I replaced when that was smashed) it is a magnifying shaving mirror, so everybody is BIG.

It did shake me up and make me wonder if it is really worth it here. I could walk to work in 25 minutes. I originally bought the Clunk when my work took me to the 4 corners of Lima.

I don’t really need the bike, although I do really love the occasional wanderings into the hills and beyond. I love bikes and I know there is always an element of danger on two wheels, but normally it is an accepted risk. You drive to the very best of your abilities and try to anticipate the actions of other drivers. Most of the time (outside Lima) it is a pleasurable, liberating & uplifting experience.

Here it is more like mind-reading. It is intense, always. On my 12 minute commute there are four sections of road where I shudder and hold my breath. On the way home (2 minute commute) there are 5 dodgy sections.

Is it worth it?

I really don’t know if it is here and the events keep going round my head. I’m trying not to dwell on it, but it’s a bit hard to just forget. Ask anybody who has passed through Lima on a Clunk (Lois Pryce or Lisa Morris are two awesome riders and they both noted how mad it is in Lima).
I’d be gutted to sell the Clunk, we’ll wait and see…

New gloves.

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My £5 gardening gloves have done a grand job, but after a year of Clunking they are falling to bits and look like they have been smoking 40-a-day, (I dread to think what my lungs look like sucking on the fumes here). If you need any weeds pulling, let me know:-)

Haircut Sir

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People say that the first thing that you notice about a person is their shoes.
I’m not sure. If somebody has a pink Mohican or a Chris Waddle perm, I think you’d notice that before their hush-puppies/winklepickers/brogues.

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Hairstyles are a funny thing (and I have had some varied styles in my time), but if I find a decent haircropper, I stick with them. Louise in Tad, Lisa in Morley, Gino in Robin Hood (!) and a lass whose name I cannot pronounce here in Salamanca. I

n February I got sick of having a birds nest and had it all off. A bloke who I think had never seen a pair of clippers in his life took 30 minutes to do a Grade I all over (and then asked if I wanted a line where my sideburns started, at the top. “Why?” I asked!)

Now a skinhead is great until it starts growing out, at different lengths.

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I went to see the lass whose name I cannot pronounce, but alas she was off. “I can cut it” said another woman. An on-the-spot decision had to be made and it was the wrong one. I stayed.

I tried to explain what I wanted. This was met with blank looks. So she went off to the magazine rack. “Saved!” I thought, until she came back with a “How to cut hair” leaflet.

“Four styles in easy-to-follow photos” claimed the title. I had a choice between a Vanilla Ice Japanese Gangster, a long-haired pony tail, a kind of Rat Tail crop top and what can only be described as a mullet.

My stylist/butcher was a bit put-out that I turned all four styles down, as I tried to explain again what I wanted. There are few things more disheartening than watching somebody hacking away and your locks falling on the floor, doing completely the opposite to what you thought you’d asked for. Didn’t get what I asked for, but at least I escaped the mullet (and didn’t get a Vanilla Ice, who is in fact playing here on the 28th May!)

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An embarrassing moment!

Lina’s Mum lives on the ground floor and we live on the 2nd floor. The Wee One had just done her business and filled a nappy and I didn’t have a bag so I hotfooted it upstairs, or rather I was lazy and took the lift. Now there is what is called a “Junta” here in the block of flats and their business is taken quite/very seriously. For example, you can only take certain things in the lift (there is a list and dirty nappies aren’t on the list. Forbidden goods). To my horror, instead of going up two floors i he lift went down to the basement. In got the head of “La Junta” and two of her friends. I hid the nappy behind my back. The smell was overpowering. They were not  over-impressed with the fragrance, which as they couldn’t see the offending item, presumed it was me, Johnny Fartpants!

Chosica

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Last weekend we escaped Lima to the hills of Chosica. A small village an hour-and-a-bit away, on the Carretera Central. It’s a canny place, but things are a wee bit different here.

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There is very little open access into the countryside. Most places are either private or fenced-off. I was born and raised in the Lake District, then crossed the Pennines to sunny Yorkshire, which was mega-handy for the Dales, North York Moors and the Peak District, I was spoiled for choice.

The mountains that I escape into on the Clunk here are places that few people go to. Most of my colleagues cannot see the attraction. I love the wild places and also a bit of P&Q.

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What this means here is that one has to join a “club”. Not really a country club, but it is a club in the country. We pay 30 quid a month to “El Bosque” (if we go or not). I moan and grumble about this (I am such a skinflint, too much time in Yorkshire!) Lina has been a member all of her life. You can’t just join & you can’t just leave. They have elections for the club president and if you don’t vote you get a fine, it is serious. Personally I think it is a little too serious in that respect, but I’m a minority.
It is a pretty impressive place with two pools, sports facilities and restaurants, at the foot of some impressive mountains. The air is fresh :-)

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They also have “bungalows” where you can (pay extra to) stay. I pulled them up about this as they have two floors, but the joke/irony was lost in translation.

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The place is patrolled/policed the “Guardabosques” who are a bunch of power-mad rule enforcers, who make it their mission that you follow the rules to the rule. In addition, people love that the silence is filled with really loud music, so any peace and quiet is lost. It’s a cultural thing. Silence here is not seen as golden, just a space that needs to be filled by really loud speakers.

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During the week it is a bit quieter (Sunday is bonkers) and the Nipper loves it. It is a good escape from Lima and I managed to climb a few fences/walls and barriers to go for a run on the hills when we were there. It didn’t quiet go to plan, but that’s another story…

A year at the B

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This week I clocked a year at the Britanico.
A job that I love, with awesome colleagues and great students. The company pays on time,  classes aren’t cancelled, I work in one place and they gives us quite a few perks (including two free booze-ups, a massive Christmas Hamper and countless free nosh-ups at work), it’s a good place to work. The hours aren’t great but you can’t have everything. Out of everything here in Lima, it is my work that I enjoy the most. My colleagues are a really good bunch of people and I have a decent gaffer.

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There will forever be a small cross-section of punters here in Lima who will speak with a dodgy Northern accent, who know a lot about rugby league and the difference between bitter and lager. That makes me proud :-)

(Next week: How I got sacked by not sticking to the curriculum!)

cafeThanks to Lourdes for the coffee :-)

And finally…

To hopefully leave a smile on your face on a Monday morning, I give you this short little video. I always wanted (and still want to be, there’s still time) to be an Astronaut.
Not just to float around in a rocket, or eat food from toothpaste tubes, but obviously for the views.

This mesmerising VIDEO is pretty awesome :-)

If you look carefully, you can just see Morley!

Have a well beyond awesome week.


Cheers

Johnny, Lina and the Nipper

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