RICK JACKSON: Cycling trip that left me walking like John Wayne
The cycling season has well and truly begun and last weekend's classic Paris-Roubaix race inspired me to get the bike out of its winter mothballs.
Paris-Roubaix is an infamous one-day race in the cycling calendar because of its length and the amount of cobbled roads on the route from the north of the capital to Roubaix, near Lille and the Belgian border 200 miles away.
The cyclists are either covered in dust, or mud if it rains during the race.
Many fall on the rough cobbles, or get delayed when their bikes suffer mechanical problems.
There are many obstacles in this race and a rider really earns their stripes if they win.
With this is mind, my friend Graham and I devised a 30-mile route which would take in some of our fine countryside.
There is nothing more impressive than a peloton of professional riders, hurtling along at 35+mph on the flat.
Just as impressive is the amazing feats of stamina as they climb mountain after mountain, mile after mile, day after day during races such as the Tour de France.
Not quite as impressive is two middle-aged men dressed in Lycra on their race bikes, trying to emulate these amazing athletes.
We are what is known as MAMILs – Middle-Aged Men In Lycra.
But I couldn’t have cared less what we were called as we sped through Titchfield and Wickham, heading for Portsdown Hill.
The reward for the climb is the wonderful view from the top, with the rolling hills of rapeseed looking north and Portsmouth Harbour to the south.
Then a time trial along the busway into Gosport and home for an espresso and to check out performance on our mobile phone apps.
Half-an-hour later, Graham goes to leave.
I lift myself from the chair to say goodbye and am unable to straighten my back.
As I do, I’m in pain as I prolapse a disc again. My neck is also stiff with whiplash-type symptoms.
So I’ve spent this week walking like John Wayne who’s had an unfortunate accident in the trouser department.
SO PLEASED THAT I’VE FALLEN BACK IN LOVE WITH MACBOOK
I do love my gadgets, but I had fallen out of love with my MacBook after a recent update made it run slower than a snail in treacle.
Mac users normally scoff at Microsoft users and all the issues they have to put up with, especially when Windows 10 was downloaded.
The latest operating system for the MacBook is called Sierra and putting it on to my three-year-old machine made it virtually useless.
But I’ve fallen in love with it all over again after a visit to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Southampton’s West Quay.
After turning off the File Vault, the problem was quickly sorted.
The other positive was this help was provided free of charge.
Now that’s what I call service.
I OPENED THE DOOR AND SAID NO THANKS AS KINDLY AS I COULD
The doorbell rang at what was the worst possible moment.
My daughter had just settled for her afternoon nap after half-an-hour and I thought I would get 40 winks following a hectic morning at work.
I had just nodded off when the bell went.
But any thought of ignoring it went as both dogs started up with their usual barking.
The fear of the noise waking Holly meant I sprang out of bed and thundered down the stairs.
Half-way down, I slipped. After I crashed into the newel post, I assessed my injuries.
One hand burnt on the rail, the other gashed and a nasty bruise on my side.
I opened the door and declined a copy of Watchtower as kindly as I could.