Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dogs, clowns and Sir Jimmy Savile

The other day I did something I'm not sure whether to be ashamed of or not. While we were cycling along, a dog ran out and angrily made its way toward us barking. I shouted at it to try to get it to go back but it kept coming so (here's the potentially shameful part) I spat and my spittle hit it on the nose. When this happened it immediately stopped in its tracks, shut up, looked a bit confused, then turned around and went back into its abode.

I don't know if spitting on dogs is a great pastime but it seemed effective in that case. I suppose it doesn't harm the dog and I can be sure its nose has been immersed in much worse than a little bit of saliva. If it stops the dog from running out in front of a bike or, potentially worse, biting one of us, is it a good practice to partake in? I really don't know.

I feel like a bit of a shit for spitting on the poor dog but, at the same time, I didn't do it any harm and was getting pretty desperate in my attempts to stop it. It's considerably more humane than giving the dog a kick or anything horrid like that. Ultimately the dog shouldn't have been able to get out onto the road to bark at us in the first place. If the owner even vaguely cared about their pet, they would make sure it was kept in and safe.

I was petty with another dog today. It's a Jack Russell (I think) which almost always runs up beside the road, jumps out of a hedge and barks at me. I was travelling the opposite direction from normal today (I'm a terrible creature of habit) and came upon the dog... Good grief! No! Not in that way! I draw the line at spitting. Anyway, I chanced upon the dog and he hadn't noticed I was there. So, being childish and (as mentioned) petty, I waited until I was quite close to him and barked at him. He was suitably raging but couldn't get anywhere near me as my usual uphill pass of him was now downhill. I'm sure the guys working on a big shed across the road thought I was an arsehole. They're probably right.

When I see/read about someone successfully taking undertaking an activity I also attempt, I try to analyse their, work out where I could improve and copy them. Needless to say, I often get it completely wrong. What I'm most prone to doing is looking at, for example, someone cycling and thinking 'Oh, they appear to have their knees and toes 'in' a little. I'll have to do that too'. That's all good and well if I didn't completely overdo it until I end up cycling with form like some sort of clown lampooning a cyclist. All I ended up doing was giving myself knee problems.

Another clown's problem I have while cycling is the old hook foot. Rather than realising my ankles let me pivot my foot up and down, I often find I've kind of stuck my foot into a toe down position. That's not good; either for my output or my hamstrings. Just on that subject, our neighbour told me cycling can shorten one's hamstrings. I think he could be correct.

Some of the elder statesmen of cycling round here (who have been cycling for over sixty years) walk in a manner which suggests their hamstrings are a tad tighter than a non-cyclist of a similar vintage may be. Of course, they've probably got much better hearts, fat content, etc. etc. than many less active people too and they really are incredible for their age. Any of the particular gents I'm thinking of would be much stronger on a bike than I am and I'm not even forty yet. All the same, it makes me think I should do plenty of hamstring stretches. I'd like to be healthy in as many ways as possible for as long as possible. Note to self: be aware of form on the bike and stretch plenty off.

'Come on, get to the bit where you shoehorn in some rubbish about Jimmy Savile'. That's what we all want, isn't it? Of course it is. I'm sorry to say it's nothing from personal experience, just a wee fact (at least I hope it's accurate) which I discovered while nerding about the internet recently: Sir Jimmy Savile (who a friend of mine once accidentally referred to as Jammy Civil) rode in the 1951 Tour of Britain as a semi-professional. Blimey! You can see a scan of a relevant newspaper article here. For some reason The Duke (no, Davids Dickinson and Bowie weren't in the race too, as far as I know) is referred to as Oscar Savile. That's confusing. I'd imagine Óscar Sevilla is named after him. This seems to confirm the participant is indeed Sir James.

I knew about his marathon running and wrestling but he seems to have been an all-round athlete. If we're to trust the accuracy of Wikipedia, here's a quote from the man himself on just that subject:
"If you look at the athletics of it, I've done over 300 professional bike races, 212 marathons and 107 pro fights." He proudly announces that he lost 35 of his first 35 fights. "No wrestler wanted to go back home and say a long-haired disc jockey had put him down. So from start to finish I got a good hiding. I've broken every bone in my body. I loved it."
I've got a new found respect for the slightly creepy old cigar-chomping weirdo now. Reading further on Wikipedia, I guess his being involved in raising over forty million pounds for charity probably deserves a little hint of credit too. Maybe I'm the creepy weirdo by being more impressed by his Tour of Britain ride.

Oh, while on the subject of the Tour of Britain, couldn't they shove another couple of more difficult mountains in it? I know Britain doesn't have the sorts of climbs one would find in France, Italy or Spain but surely there are some tough climbs which aren't getting a look in and which could make it more exciting. Aren't there?

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