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Michael’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 10 Aug 2008

Location: Isle of Wight, England

MapThe week after the football final was finally time to relax, and I didn’t get off the island the entire week – a trend that would follow for another whole week, definitely a record by a long way. So a relaxing week, generally catching up on everything that I had been neglecting at the end of the season. OK, so not everything, but a few things.

The weekend after the GF was the opening weekend of Cowes Week, and of the Olympics. I don’t know which had a bigger impact on my lifestyle! For one week a year Cowes actually becomes a lively place, hosting the world’s biggest sailing regatta. Instead of the pubs calling last orders at 1130 pm, they are more likely to stay open till 1 am, and there are a couple of clubs scattered around the town that operate for one week a year only and stay open till 2 am. This year even saw one of the pubs in Cowes turn into a strip club from 930 pm each evening with strippers brought in from Portsmouth.

So, the party started on the Friday night, and continued right through until the following Friday. Between drinking in the street (the thing to do during Cowes week) to going to these make shift clubs, there were parties every night. The street drinking thing is a key part to Cowes week, with all pubs serving beer in plastic cups (like at the footy) and people will buy in one pub and wander to the next with their beers. On the weekends I would finally get home around 230 am and sit in front of the TV watching the start of the live Olympic coverage for the day. I know on the first Friday night/Saturday morning I finally fell asleep on the couch at about 630 watching the men’s cycling road race.

On the Tuesday night, which was established as the GKN office night out, I was riding home from work as quick as I could to get a bit of sleep before the night out. I’d managed to stay out at the make shift club ‘Infernos’ until 2am on the Monday, so was feeling tired on Tuesday avo. Cruising home, at about 25mph (40km/hr) I was riding through a T-intersection where a van pulled out at the last second. I didn’t have time to hit the brakes and plowed right into the front drivers side quarter panel, was flipped onto the bonnet, face bouncing off the windscreen, and somehow bounced back onto the ground and landed on my feet. I was lucky that my feet came out of the straps on the pedals, and even luckier that I was wearing a helmet.

I stormed off the road, swearing rather loudly. Safe to say I was pretty upset with what happened. My left knee was scraped, shoulder and cheek both grazed. But before long I realized that it was my right thumb and left ankle causing the most pain. At first I declined going to the A&E (Accident & Emergency), but the guy that had pulled out offered to drive me and the bike there, then home afterwards. His main comment was “I thought you were going to turn left. I don’t know why, I just thought you were going to turn left…”. Still rather pissed off, and realizing now that my bike was stuffed as well, I simply responded “I don’t know why, but I didn’t think you wouldn’t bloody pull out”. After an hour at the A&E, I finally had some x-rays and they came back all clear. The usual warnings for head trauma were read to me, and I was sent on my merry way.

Anyway, bike was written off. Front wheel buckled, forks bent back into the frame, handle bars twisted, and the rear gear changer bracket was wrecked as well. Then the peripheral stuff like bike computer and light was destroyed as well. Not to mention any small cracks that may have been in the frame as well. At least I put some damage into his van too.

So that put a bit of a dampener on my Cowes Week, but I did still get out and hobble around to enjoy the festivities. The Wednesday night I really couldn’t pull myself together to go out for long, and managed to avoid going to the ‘Australia Day’ party. Scandia, the primary sponsor, are also the major sponsor of Geelong Week sailing and were holding a party to plug it with Aussie beer, champagne and Bundy Rum. I didn’t go there, yet just last week read that one of my favorite travel writers, Peter Moore, was there for research on his new book, “Blimey!”, about his trip round the UK to study for his UK citizenship test. Bummer, would have enjoyed meeting him…

The only night I didn’t actually make it out was the final Saturday. Mainly as the weather was awful, the real big party is the last Friday, or fireworks night, so the Saturday would have been a let down, and my body did need a rest. It was a mission of a week, but it only happens here once a year, so got to make the most of it.

Another thing that drained a bit of my time, and kept me busy during Cowes Week was my first ever endeavor at travel writing – outside the setting of this blog of course. I entered the TNT Magazine travel writing competition, basing the story on the trip Potter and I made to the Latvian bobsled track outside of Riga. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the finals, so that idea will be put on hold for the moment. Bummer….