Basically we all take risks every day, if not we’d be wrapped in cotton wool, hiding under our beds.
Risk is measurable, consequence maybe less so (unless things do go belly-up).
As a rule I like to try and keep myself as alive as possible.
I have had some close shaves (planned and unplanned), but in general day-to-day stuff I prefer eliminating what could result in a potentially pathetic &/or embarrassing demise.
I got “cragfast” on a run last year in my local “cerros”. Off-route and on some very sketchy ground which I thought I could climb up and out of, but reached an impasse where downclimbing became as difficult as climbing upwards, (in running shoes on crappy, chossy, dusty rock. A fall would indeed have been very, very painful!) Lesson learnt.
Two years ago I was riding the old Clunk (the bike is sadly missed, but not the commuting chaos) on a busy stretch of highway called “Evitamiento” (“Avoidance” literally translated).
A busy toll road.
The design of roads is very different here. Slip roads coming on to a road merge suddenly with slip roads coming off. It is a very $h!tty design and always fraught with trepidation.
After having survived the major junction there is immediately a big bus stop, so the huge “omnibuses” cut across four lanes of traffic to enter that. Then there is another slip road coming on to the highway. All this in the space of 100 yards!
Relaxing is never a wise thing to do, but after surviving all this I was close to my turn-off. There is no lane system as such, vehicles travel at all speeds in all lanes, so undertaking is rife. I was trying to pass (overtake) a slow taxi, who then decided to speed up, but suddenly a truck appeared in my mirror, right up my backside, so I had no retreat. I thought he would overtake me, but he tried to go through me (!)
I felt him clash with my right wing mirror, which on that particular honda, is attached to clutch lever mechanism, so the mirror smashed and the clutch lever span round, then he clashed with me again two more times, I was honking my horn all this time, and the guy did see me, but yielded not an inch! The taxi on my inside wouldn’t yield either.
I was on my way to work for the first day of the cycle and had an overriding fear that I was going for a tarmac breakfast, which would have been a short breakfast, as there was another trucker right behind. You take your chances on the road and all bikers/cyclists have their own stories, but that one left its mark on me.
(Not much H&S” here).
When I was at school, if you didn’t get hit in the face by a cheap-shot iceball at playtime, you hadn’t been playing hard enough, as you later tried to thaw out your hands to be able to write again!
Trying to cut down on transport times (whilst trying to sneak in some regular miles, albeit slow, frustrating miles) I run home from work most nights. It is about 7 miles and slow due to 12,000 road crossings, a ridiculous amount of pedestrians still out and about at 10pm and keeping an eye open for ankle-eating potholes. It is not much fun, but 30mins faster than the bus!
3 people stopped me on Wednesday to tell me my torch was on. That was the idea.
There is a road close to our gaff which is closed on Sunday morning for cyclists, runners and rollerbladers (now they can shift!) It is a good move by the local council to promote exercise and all manner of sporty punters can be seen from portly middle-aged lycra-clad cyclists in full pro-kit on bikes worth more than I would earn in 5 years, to joe-joggers and lots of kids on trikes, scooters and rollerskates.
The Nipper and I were crossing a road, a road that was closed, but you still look both ways when a woman in a 4×4 jumped a red light and turned left onto the closed road, sending cyclists, joggers and speedskaters in all directions. Why?
A friend of mine coined the phrase, “the Lima two-step” for what people do when crossing the road. Step out, take two steps and (maybe, not always) then glance up. Motorists never “yield” (a sign of weakness) and speed up towards pedestrians. To never give an inch is the maxim.
Every day I see people crossing busy highways, when there is a footbridge 50yds away. People play chicken with vey high stakes here!
(I actually found myself looking at pushbikes as a means of getting around, but realised I had sold my last one and then just presumed that somebody must have spiked my tea!)
I can’t grumble, but I have even fallen victim (literally) to these little buggers, up in the hills!
I have no idea who planted them there, or what (if any) purpose they serve, but they are just the right size to send you flying…
When I were a lad we had to do a pushbike exam called the “Cycling Proficiency”
Done at (primary) school, it was just a case of riding round a few cones, doing an emergency stop, bike maintenance and basically not falling off!
(It was very difficult to fail).
The Cycling Proficiency Test was a test given by Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents which served as a minimum recommended standard for cycling on British road.
With this coveted award you were let loose on the roads, which to be fair, were a lot quieter than now. I never heard of anybody being arrested for riding without the Cycling Proficiency and you didn’t need to carry round your certificate at all times.
A bonus was that we all got our photo taken for the local rag “The Westmorland Gazette”
The main memory of this auspicious event however was seeing a Policeman for the first time ever!
Our school playground was about 100 yards across. We were all gathered in one corner when a Bobby in full uniform with a BOOMING voice from the far side said (he didn’t shout, he didn’t need to, he just had a loud voice when speaking), “Hey kids, I’m PC Singleton”
Then he proceeded to walk on his hands all the way across the playground (keeping his hat on somehow) and then flipped back on to his feet, to a collective gasp of awe, from all us kids!
PC Singleton was the man who led the course, he had the presence (and height) of the Green Cross Code man (who was always on telly at the time). I am 6´4″ now(when I stand up straight), but back then this guy seemed like an absolute giant!
Our school was only small (5 other kids in my year and about 40 in the whole school) and the village itself was diddy, so I imagine that PC Singleton had a very steady number back then…
All of this taught me to respect the law and I even considered joining the force a few times, but decided against it, as I am too much of a soft touch and would probably let everybody off! I dont think it is as easy nowadays.
(I’ve managed to stay on the right side of the law most of my life so far. it was very close with the infamous “Sheep Squad” incident, but that is another story for another time).
Out here, the police force (PNP) is the biggest force in Latin America, 140,000 strong in numbers, with special divisions/acronyms such as DINOES (Special Operations), DINANDRO (Anti-Narcotics Unit), DININCRI (Criminal Investigations), DIRCOTE (Anti-Terrorism) and DIRCAN (Dogs).
The “Aguila Negra” (Black Eagles) are the bad boys who you don’t mess with,
Dressed for guerila warfare and armed to the teeth.
Most of the rest of the force are made up of traffic police, who seem to do their utmost to make things worse.
I lost my rag (as did many others) with a feckless official this week who was going against the traffic lights, logic, reason and any sembleance of sense when I (and a dozen even angrier punters) waited 5 minutes to cross a road.
PC Singleton would have sorted it out, standing on his hands!
Which brings me nicely on to my next (brief) point!
A few years back, some bright spark here had the idea of “La Ola Verde” (the green wave).
Basically, popping a bobby or three (a-la London Bridge cerca 1722), or a council official, wearing the obligatory yellow gloves, usually tooting a whistle like a 90′s raver and moving a day-glo baton, like a mini Jedi apprentice, on major junctions!
Traffic lights have a sequence (even in my colourblind state, I know this) and the sequence also has a timing, which allows a fair share of time for each lane to get through this obstruction/control.
The only problem is that nobody seems to have explained this modern phenomenon to these people and they keep whistling and waving, until long after red or green has passed.
For the Lima hornhonkers, this is a reason to honk their horns even more, as those behind the front line can’t always see that it is not the lights hindering the traffic, but a human.
Naturally this slows things down even more than they already are, for pedestrians hoping to cross a road (without using the Lima-two-step) too.
It is a mystery.
It was, until all the lights were down last week for two days, on one of the main junctions I have to cross, when there was no “Ola Verde” to be seen at all.
Again, PC Singleton (and maybe the Green Cross Code Man) would have sorted things out!
Running recently has been reduced to a futile midnight shuffle home and one longer run on a weekend. With the first race of the season only two weeks away, I am going to be desperately short of miles, so I am trying to squeeze as much climbing and hope into the one weekend run as physically possible!
I had to pay a midweek trip to see Super Maro, my marvellous Physio, for a minor knee problem. That amazing women is one of the people who keeps me on the straight and narrow here. She is a miracle worker!
So, a 4:30am alarm on Saturday made me spring (slow-motion) out of bed to get to yonder “cerros”. At the bus stop by 5:30am, no buses, so I had to resort to a “collective” (basically an unofficial chancer running a shared taxi) who dropped me off at the far side of the Doubtful Round at “La Laguna”, from which it is a stiff old 3 mile climb up to 3000ft and then a rocky switchback towards the other end of the horseshoe. It is my patch and I know it well (he says confidently, with a 6ft wall to follow, with 10 mile visibility in summer!)
There are a few lines off the route which I don’t know quite as well…
Whilst there are occasionally other runners about, it is mainly “Huachimen” and their guard dogs who one sees en-route. These are all guarding “El Muro”, a 6ft high white pre-fab concrete panel wall, put up around 2011 which separates the “haves” and the “have-nothings”. (Which is also a useful navigation guide for me in the fog of winter!)
There is one summit (Cerro San Francisco) which I just cannot find a route off/down.
On Saturday, I was feeling confident to put this right, maybe it was the umpteenth gel I’d forced down, or too much sun on my silly head, but as they say, pride comes afore a fall…
The wall at this point is at one of it’s shocking contrast points: On one side is Las Casuarinas (you are looking at $2,000,000 upwards for a mansion) and over the barbed wire to SJM, San Juan de Miraflores, where a shack with no water, no electricity nor sewage facilities will set you back a bit less!
It is a long and complicated story, but I found out a route which I will NOT be taking again…
I knew there was a route off the hill, but there are no maps (how I miss the Ordnance Survey) and prior searching on Google Street Maps drew a blank.
I’d been pushing myself on the second half of the run, up against time constraints, as I dropped down off the hills I’d drunk most of my water and only had one gel left, so my heart sank when I realised that my escape route wasn’t really an escape route but it was too long-a-backtrack returning to the summit and down the other way. I pressed on!
Even bigger walls, barbed wire and signs threatening of arrest.
I somehow found a path down to the road, with no fences and tried to sprint my way out of the expensive maze.
Within 2 shakes of a lamb’s tail, a guard appeared on a motorbike and stopped me. I was on private property.
After a thousand questions I was told to follow him…
Arriving to the central security office, the main gaffer was outside waiting for me.
Straight away, “Who are you?”, “What do you think you’re doing here?”, “Your papers, please” (without the please) and more questions.
Gafferman wanted to see my passport, I had my ID card, but never carry my passport, it’s not an obligation. Until this point I had kept calm but I was hot, very thirsty and in a rush to get out of the situation. Gafferman disappeared with my ID and I tried to make the best of a “Good-cop-bad-cop” situation. Leonardo was the guy who’d collared me originally. I tried to engage him in conversation about his bike, an ancient, knackered GL125, this didn’t cut any ice. I tried to get him talking about anything before Gafferman came back. He couldn’t understand why I had been running in the hills for 4hrs nor why I didn’t know this was a private zone.
Gafferman came back, barked something at Mr. GL125 (unintelligible to me), then another guy came out with the same questions and took my ID again. More waiting and silence!
Eventually, there was a flurry of activity, my ID was thrust back in my hand and I was ordered to leave, immediately and not to come back. Leonardo sped off and told me to follow him. My shoes were full of grit and my legs had stiffened up, so it was a comedy hobble downhill to the exit sentry guard, but I was free as I set off towards the Panamericana Norte as fast as I could!
13miles with 6000ft of climbing in the bag, but will it be enough for Ruricancho?
After last weeks drubbing at the hands of Batley Bulldogs, the Shipbuilders were reminded that life in a higher division was never going to be easy!
This week we were away to Dewsbury Rams.
At least that was the plan, but the cruel British winter thought otherwise and the match was called off on Sunday morning, due to a frozen pitch!
Dewsbury Prop Matty English had been quoted as saying:“Cumbrian sides are always the same, tight little grounds, not much space to play in, horrible pitches and it normally rains.“Plus, you have to factor in the long journeys and they always like the home advantage, it just makes it one of the toughest places in the country to go to.
“It’s always wet and muddy up there, I don’t think the sun ever shines up in Cumbria, but I love those sorts of days and pitches.”
Will take the above as a compliment!
Away to Rochdale Hornets next week, weather permitting. Onwards and upwards!
Urban camping II…
After a brief trial last Sunday, this Saturday was the real thing!
I had a naïve idea when I came back from Blighty in August that maybe we could go off for family weekends away camping. We tried, it was a disaster. A group set up some nightclub speakers on the campsite at midnight and we had to abandon ship
So, I had promised the Nipper that we could camp in the lounge on Saturday night. Lina was away, so after a camping tea and after a dozen bedtime stories, she was off into the land of nod straight away!
I had been tricked however. There were two mattresses; a 15yr old racing snake 2/3 length cream cracker thickness mat, or a once-used, super-duper, thick Alpit Dirtbag mat.
Guess which one the Wee One commandeered?!
The Chinese restaurant combo kept me awake until 1:30pm and when they clocked off, the neighbours continued and then their dogs finished off with a barking contest, so I did get a few hours shuteye between 3-6am!
The Nipper loved it. Next time will hopefully be outdoors!
Stop being so British!
A phrase used by a friend to a very good friend of mine out here
Basically meaning, adapt!
I bumped into an old friend on Sunday, Alex, the man who first gave me a job out here. A very, very down-to-earth West Ham fan. A good bloke. We crossed trolleys in the supermarket and I was moaning to him about stuff and he agreed, you have to adapt or this place will drive you insane!
I am not especially patriotic, but I miss so many things about Blighty and my family and mates, the usual homesickness stuff.
I don’t know why I have struggled to adapt back to life here in Lima. I have been to some far-flung places in this world, so why has settling down in this noisy, chaotic madhouse been so difficult?
Recently I have been experiencing some very dark times indeed.
However, I have been looking up stuff on Dr. Google and things apparently aren’t that bad.
I used to be a very laidback guy, but now I am not. I am short-tempered and radgey, not good.
However, I have no issues with nerves or anxiety, I am just frustrated with my circumstances and my inability to change them or make them better (not just for me, for everyone).
Am I depressed? That is a big question. No, I am just in a continuous stinking mood!
I still feel that my job is important, I still run myself into the ground in training (to hopefully be 5th V45 in some tinpot race, somewhere), I still feel like there is a meaning to all this nonsense and madness and that one day things will get better! And hopefully they will
To the people, you know who you are
A musical gem!
There is something amazingly special about this video and tune.
How on earth can a man look so cool running down the beach with a trumpet?HERB ALPERT ROCKS!
Have a brilliant week folks.
Johnny, Lina and the Nipper