The best-laid plans

Nothing's ever easy, is it? | 26/6/2022

My attempts to get four wheels under me have - to use an apposite term - stalled.

I was never of the impression that it would be a straightforward matter, and I was quite happy to make progress in Baby Steps - and indeed, that's how things were for a good while, slow but sure.

But as my driving lessons continued, a disconnect developed between the instructor's teaching style, and my learning style.

Long story short: I have no problem with making mistakes, and with being told that I'm not getting something right. But I do have a problem with not being told what I'm actually doing wrong; and an even bigger problem with not being told what I need to do to fix the problem.

But that was the guy's self-proclaimed style - I had to figure it out for myself.

Even that would have been OK - but we got to the point of me doing what I was sure was right (my position in the lane, for example), and yet I was still apparently getting it wrong, and he still wouldn't tell me what the fucking problem was!  

The point of no return came at the end of a particularly disappointing, stressful, upsetting lesson (all my life I've been good at everything I've ever tried, pretty much straight away: I don't handle failure well at all) and I'd hit that point of silent, palpable, incandescent rage at how badly things had gone, and how little useful help I felt I'd been given.

It's a condition that most people immediately recognise when they see it in others, and know instinctively to be very circumspect and unprovocative in the presence of.

This guy's reaction? He fucking laughed. I was apoplectically angry, and he thought it was funny. My reaction to the day's travails was apparently amusing.

I'm not violent by nature, but I can say hand on heart that I've never, ever been closer to delivering serious damage on someone without it actually happening, than I was at that moment. 

But the worst problem of all is that the constant lack of clarity, help and positive feedback (all of which I need, and which I believe I should be able to expect) has completely robbed me of any last shred of self-confidence and faith in my own ability: as I suggest, I never expected to find the process trivially easy, but neither did I expect it to (and nor should it) have caused me the enormous amount of unhappiness, second-guessing and self-doubt that it has... 

On our way to the Lakes for what proved to be a very good day's photography, my buddy Mark suggested that I needed to think about changing instructors, and although at the time I wanted to stick it out - at least until the end of the course I'd paid for - I realised that unless I cancelled the last couple of lessons, there was a real possibility that things could go very wrong (in very different ways) for each of us: I was developing a real hostility towards this fella, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep a lid on it for much longer.

It wasn't worth being arrested for, so I pulled the plug on my lessons at the beginning of June - and it instantly felt like a smart move, so thanks, Mark!

I've been "decompressing" for the rest of the month, and as soon as my head is back in the game (not much longer, I reckon), I'll be reaching out for instructors who don't think that empathy is a kind of lung disease...

In the meantime, I've been looking at two wheels again: I'd still prefer an electric motorbike to a car, but a recent cruise around the online insurers is still a source of boundless frustration, with only one company being prepared to quote me for the bike I would want. Which is way too risky. 

I know - First World Problem, right? Money to spend, and I can't spend it...

I am getting closer to re-engaging with the idea of a holiday, though: my old favourite Landrace Cottage in Carlton Miniott is off the menu, given how irredeemably bad Woodlands was last time (and continues to be, it would seem), but a few days at The Bowes Incline just outside of Birtley might be an option: easy enough to get to (I could cycle there if I was sufficiently motivated) and within five minutes walk of Angel Of The North lakes, so I'd be able to wet a line.

I'd go in September, when the schools go back, and - given the venue's reputation for lots of rules, which apparently put people off (good!) - I shouldn't find it too hard to find a peg. 

Oh yeah: a couple of weeks ago I bought another e-bike - a totally rigid GT Grade Current flat bar gravel/commuter bike! 

GT Grade Current

Another (relatively) lightweight "semi-skimmed" affair, with a 250wh battery and 40nm Mahle Ebikemotion X35+ hub motor.

It's very different to what I'm used to - I've ridden full suspension since around 1998, and I assumed this little thing would kill me - but (once I'd swapped the saddle for a Charge Spoon and let a little bit of air out of the tires, which were pumped up road-bike hard) it's actually surprisingly compliant - the rear triangle stays have some give in them, and the carbon fork definitely damps some of the front-end chatter - so it's actually a lot of fun to ride on roads and surfaced trails.

If I was asked, I suppose I'd describe it as supple. I like it. 

I bought it primarily as a Beast Of Burden: I've ridden to my local club ponds with a day's worth of fishing tackle, on my Specialized Turbo Levo SL, and - brilliant bike though that is - full suspension is a pain to set up for load-carrying, especially using a seatpost-mounted rack, so I figured a hardtail (with a suspension fork) would be better. But I came across this at a local bike shop, had a quick ride, and it just ticked my boxes. So here we are.

Interestingly, after I did the trip on the Specialized, I got home and immediately thought "I'm not doing that again..." - and that was over a year ago - but after riding this to the pond last week, I'm already ready to do it again.  

Caught sod all, but at least I can get there..! 


Categories: Personal

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