I've been a cyclist all my life. My parents met through a cycling club. My childhood - well, maybe when I've worked through the associated traumas I'll write more about that some other time, but it involved being cold and wet a lot and going a lot of places none of my peers had ever heard of. I measured out my adolescence in gradually improving 10 mile time trial times. Through my twenties I tried and mostly failed at most sorts of racing, and organized a few races as well. I worked as a courier in London for a time. I revived my university club for a while, and managed to be British Universities' 100 mile time trial champion (against fairly modest opposition) before going and racing (at a very low level) in Italy for a short while. I didn't get around to getting a driving licence until a couple of years ago.

Then in 1994 or so I got a job in Brussels as a translator, and it all started to fall apart a bit (although I was one of the city's few cycle commuters for a while). With a sedentary job and then self-employment, plus a family to make at least a vague semblance of looking after, with the added distraction of the Internet (yes, that's YOU people), I didn't get out often enough to maintain a comfortable level of fitness, and besides there was suddenly a vast amount of bike racing on the telly to watch, races I'd only ever known from press reports in pre-Eurosport England. That wasn't all bad, because watching Flemish TV didn't half bring on my Dutch, which accounts for a fair proportion of our business these days. But it took cycling from an active to a passive pastime.

We moved back to the UK in 2003, not least because of the better educational provision here for my younger son Daniel, who has Down's Syndrome. I joined a local club and rode a few local cyclo-crosses very slowly, but still without really getting away from the computer enough.

This spring, a family friend of rather limited experience decided on the spur of the moment to see if he could move up from his 8-mile commute to do the End-to-End, Land's End to John O'Groats. Despite my scepticism, foul weather and a number of misadventures, he managed it in impressively good time, leaving me, the self-identified "cyclist" who had actually ridden a total of about 40 miles all year, mostly in 600 yard chunks doing the school run, somewhat bemused. And, it has to be said, challenged. On 21 May, the fifth anniversary of my father's death, I decided to put in to the management for permission to attempt a ride that would be both even more ill-prepared, and of course a bit longer: from my current home town of Nottingham to Rome . On the other hand, self employment does allow me a bit more flexibility, not least in choosing to go when the sun is shining and there isn't a headwind blowing. At least to start with. As long as I've mended all the computers that we managed to break in the interim first, anyway. So here I am. The bike's set up, and departure is scheduled for next Sunday, 10 am by the lions in the Market Square.

Oh, and this is of course not all for my benefit, so I am accepting, and indeed asking for, sponsorship on behalf of the Down's Syndrome Association, via my justgiving page.

I've pulled this writeup straight from my blog for the ride, which is thoroughly bad form really, but I thought under the circumstances it was a reasonable thing to do. Such updates as I can manage from out on the road will be on that blog page.

Does she need to get lost to find herself?

I'm sick of having increasingly more fun with her in an increasingly stable friendship. I'm sick of us being true best friends, without her seeing that as a wonderful opportunity to ramp back up into something else.

It's so frustrating that we're only growing closer, yet I don't ever see any true, real signs of her actually *liking* me again. (Rather, I do, but she never confirms them verbally, and worries herself that we're falling back into a boyfriend/girlfriend place but, "without the love." Charming.) I wonder how much she's trying to actively keep from that, or if she's just (convinced herself that she's) completely disinterested in me that way. I know sometimes people just aren't meant to be together like that, but I can't help but wonder what type of person she thinks she's meant to be with.

I can't help but wonder what sort of aspirations and ideas towards happiness and compatibility she fosters, and how I don't provide them.

We get along absolutely swimmingly. We talk every day. We spend more time together than with anyone else. We make each other laugh, day in and day out. Hell, we even sleep together with varying frequency. And yet, she refuses to accept that we'd be good together. It's like I've lost no matter what, and any progress I make is inconsequential, "destined for failure." How encouraging.

The worst part is that I feel paralyzed—like I can't discuss any of this with her. I can't sit her down and have a discussion, because it will end with the confirmation of my worst fears. How pathetic. I don't want things to officially end in any capacity, and despite having several months of what I consider to be unprecedented growth and stability in our relationship, I doubt she considers an end towards any mean. It's almost like she's found herself completely unwilling to consider anything with me, and while she's pulled no punches about making it clear the few times we've broached it, the amount of times where we've been truly thrilled to be around each other is just staggeringly telling, and something I refuse to give up the ghost on.

She's mentioned that she's just not "in love" with me, which I actually understand. I just wonder if perhaps our ideas of love are at different levels of maturity, such that I don't feel it necessary (or even likely) that two people will stay at a continuous high, buzzing state for each other for any reasonable amount of time. I think that true love and compatibility is instead found in the aftermath and the absolute lows between two individuals, and the level of tolerance, caring and dedication they still possess. I think that's a large part of what frustrates me. It's not as if we're incompatible for spending large swaths of time together. Or that we don't have "comfortable silences." Or that we don't have similar interests, read similar things, enjoy similar movies, discuss similar topics of conversation, have brilliantly compatible senses of humor and both totally get each other. Nope, we have all of that in spades.

Perfect, then, that we should simply ignore our unseemly, shiny potential, cast aside under the guise of a search for someone to be "in love" with. Oh, sweet Clementine, how sad that you don't realize you already are.

Sometimes, even the silly and downtrodden need a forum they can be ensured offers partial anonymity and perhaps a few guaranteed viewers, even if it's perhaps a bit emo; I was sick of writing into a private journal, sick of writing into the void. Punish accordingly.

The more I think about it, and the more I bike, drive and walk around Eugene the more it makes me think of Cambridge. The changeable weather (including trademark sudden squalls), the overall coolth (that's like warmth, but in reverse), the surfeit of green all around, the weirdoes (heh) and the high commerce + college + small town atmosphere all add up to that same feeling of constant low-grade euphoria and a feeling of unreality. I still can't really believe we're here, and the odd or wonderful (or wonderfully odd) things that happen daily only serve to reinforce that.

Or it could be post-moving glee. But I don't think so.

So we got in fairly late at night completely zombied out, and so had a total of about 5 hours the next morning to try and think about how our furniture was going to be laid out. When the movers (well, unloaders - technically we were the movers) came, we were still pondering this tricky proposition ... a few hours later things slotted in place. The problem was, they kept slotting - all of our boxes o' crap™ ended up on the porch, the patio, and the center of the living room. The plants at least survived the ride and are now thriving on the porch, reveling in the moisture.

The counter to this dismaying realization was the fact that we now did have a patio and a porch. After years of apartment living with zero external surfaces it shouldn't be surprising that this was a nice bonus - but it surprises us every day how pleasant it is to just sit on the porch and read a book while enjoying a glass of wine au naturel. Another week and we may have some music, even! The luxuries just keep adding up.

Our cottage is stupendously cute. It's a 1,000 sq.ft. hardwooded nook and crannied two-storied forested structure of almost proverbially quaint rusticness - it's almost as if we're camping, which only adds to the feeling of transitory anticipation we're enjoying (?). It's as if we're going to pack up and go "home" very soon - I guess as you get older the feeling of displacement takes longer and longer to dissipate ...

Unpacking has been going on the entire week, and will probably stretch into the next one. We've donated 6 bags of clothing, 5 items of furniture and a car before even packing the Penske truck, and it looks like we're going to give away (or toss some redundant fluff) even more stuff just to fit in the house. It's not that it's small, but after 5 years of stuffing stuff (HAHA) in random places, getting it all out in the open becomes a little tricky. Books are especially suffering, but with double-stacking we've managed to put them all up - I try to prevent myself from realizing that means we need twice as many bookshelves as we have ...

Anyway. Next entry, Eugene bits and work bits. This is such a different environment I'm not even sure where to start - but it is all improvements.

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