Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

This BBC story is quite vague, but Nottingham’s ring road was closed for several hours after a cyclist was in collision with a motorcycle on 21 April. The cyclist died. It was chaos on the roads (yet again). In this update, where the cyclist is named, the BBC has a caption which says:

The ring road has some of the heaviest rush hour traffic in Nottingham.

It also has cycle paths either side, to keep cyclists and traffic away from each other for precisely this reason.Middleton Boulevard

There are no details about what actually happened in this case. However, it is worth noting that a lot of cyclists choose to ignore the cycle paths (except at red lights), many opting instead to purposely cause hold ups just to show that they “have a right to use the roads” (and they DO do that – I used to ride with a group of them). The number doing this has increased dramatically this year, and many of the guilty parties appear to be older people, predominantly male, who have just acquired their bikes.

As is typical, in the old monkey-see-monkey-do manner, they will have witnessed those “cool” Spandex Boys with their testosterone issues doing it and – without realising their own lack of skills – have decided they’ll have some of that as well.

The simple fact is that if you stay on a cycle path that was built especially for you to keep you out of traffic, and use crossings properly like other soft-bodied specimens (i.e. pedestrians), your chances of being involved in a collision with a motor vehicle on a major road during rush hour are virtually nil. Of course, pigs might fly, and if you therefore choose to ignore the cycle paths and attempt to ride amongst the traffic during said rush hour, your chances of getting hit rise astronomically.

I really do hope that there’s some sort of afterlife, because I cannot otherwise see how “being right” about cycling on busy roads instead of the adjacent cycle paths is of any use to you at all if you’re lying on a cold slab in a morgue.

These comments are general, by the way, and are in no way intended to address whatever happened in that original tragic incident on the ring road. Judging by the location of the white bicycle that’s been placed there, the cyclist was using the crossing.

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It’s been a while since any new rat stories cropped up, but the original article I wrote about giant rats remains popular. So this latest item on the BBC website made me smile.

It talks of a race of super-rats which once lived in the Caribbean…

…some of which grew to the size of cats.

I think they must have forgotten about the ones in Bradford, which were – according to the natives – the size of a Fiat 500. The Caribbean ones were mere mice by comparison.

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You have to hear this to believe it. Some dolt in Essex actually called 999 to summon an ambulance to a “hit and run” involving a squirrel.

This guy making the call from Epping Forest is the new front-runner for the 2015 Darwin Awards.

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Sitting in the car all day can be bad for your health. Apart from the more obvious risks like lack of exercise, the matter of dehydration is easily overlooked.Dehydration image

Although I never had anything like it as a child, these days I get early season hay fever symptoms (it’s the tree blossom). Nothing too serious, but itchy eyes and a tickly throat – the latter of which always seems to be worse when the air is dry, and which I can also trigger if I have the aircon on for too long. To try and do something about it I recently started drinking water during the day. Now anyone who does a job like this will know that you normally try to avoid drinking too much of anything so that you don’t end up having to take a leak every five minutes, and that was me to a “T”. I would often start work at 10am and finish at 8pm, sneaking in a couple of McDonalds’ white coffees along the way, and apart from the inevitable need to offload these at some point, I’d wait until I got home before drinking a load of tea.

It seems fairly obvious looking back, but when you’re only drinking things that make you wee even more, and especially in the warmer weather, dehydration is likely to be an issue. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that my tickly throat cleared up completely almost immediately I began drinking water. It should come as even less of a surprise to hear me point out that after the first half litre water is boring.

A quick Google revealed myriad rehydration drinks. What I was after was a make-your-own flavouring I could buy in bulk, and since I was expelling minerals as well as fluids every time I took a whiz, replacing them using isotonic drinks made sense. What didn’t make sense were the prices – the typical cost of 500g of isotonic powder (ten servings) is around £10 – and although I found one particular brand at about a quarter of the price (and with 20% extra for free), it turned out this was a special offer. With every Spandex Boy in the country on to the case, they’d sold out when I tried to get some more.

So, long story short, I decided to make my own. After some research (and trial and error), here’s a recipe for an isotonic rehydration drink (it makes 400g, one 40g serving is dissolved in 500mls of water):

Maltodextrin 80g
Glucose 199g
Fructose 100g
Citric Acid 5g
Malic Acid 1.5g
Sodium Citrate 2g
Sodium Chloride 5.36g
Potassium Chloride 1.15g
Flavouring 6g

Making it is simple: just put all the ingredients in a food processor and make sure it is fully mixed. Then store it in an airtight jar and use as required. I also add a pinch of food colouring powder during mixing, but the amount used is too small to quantify.

Based on the prices I paid for all the ingredients, this mixture costs £4 per kg (25 servings). Compare that to at least £15 per kg (unless you can get it on short-lived special offer) for commercial mixes.

I bought the sugars from Bulk Powders (you need to buy the 5kg pack to get the lowest price).

I obtained Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate, and Potassium Chloride from various sellers on eBay and Amazon (make sure you get food grade material). I’ve got tons of fine sea salt (sodium chloride) at home, but you can get that from just about anywhere. And the concentrated flavourings (by far the most expensive ingredient in terms of contribution to overall cost) can also be had from various online sellers. Remember that the larger pack size you choose, the lower the cost.

Ordinary kitchen scales (measuring to 1g) are fine for weighing out the sugars, but you may want to get a more accurate balance for the other ingredients. You can get small scales which weigh up to 500g with 0.1g resolution on eBay for about £15 (they look like CD jewel cases), and they’re accurate enough. Don’t even think about the tiny ones which supposedly weigh to 0.01g and cost a few pounds, because they are crap.

I buy 12 x 500ml packs of spring water from Asda for about £2.00 and add my powder to those. At 17p a bottle, each finished drink works out at around 33p. It’s worth noting that if you didn’t flavour the blend, it would only cost about £2.80 per kg, and each completed drink would cost about 28p (this is the base price). With commercial powders, each drink comes in at around £1.20!

You can adjust the recipe if you want longer term energy supply by cutting down the glucose and fructose (keep the ratio at 2:1), and increasing the maltodextrin. It’ll be less sweet, since maltodextrin isn’t sweet, but your body has to break this down into glucose by itself. You could also replace it with sucrose (cane sugar), which is sweet. And you may want to increase or decrease the amount of flavour slightly depending on what strength you buy. Just make sure everything adds up to 400g. Each 40g serving delivers 258mg of sodium and 60mg of Potassium.

It tastes rather good. I had a few fun issues to start with. First of all, it tastes very bland without any acidification, and – as I discovered – the level of Citric Acid doesn’t need to be as high as it is in the fresh fruit (my first try had eight times more acid and it gave me wicked indigestion). The acid has to be buffered using Citrate. And Malic Acid rounds off the flavour dramatically. Once I researched the formulation of soft drinks and built in the ingredients listed on several commercial packs, everything came together perfectly.

On a final note, the acids and the citrate have E numbers associated with them. You will find lots of nonsense on the internet about how that is bad. It isn’t. Citric Acid is made from natural ingredients, and sodium citrate is made from it. Malic Acid occurs naturally, although the manufacture of it commercially is via a synthetic process.

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Another one that annoys me. I was just finishing a lesson with a pupil and we were turning left on to Bluecoat Street from Huntingdon Street. We’d already had one white van cut us up within the last few metres.White Van SG57 UCD

Anyway, we were waiting second in the queue, and as we moved off at the lights this prick in one of those crappy white vans with windows – reg. no. SG57 UCD – just flung himself across in front of us. He then drove off at significant speed in 20mph zones (doing at least 35mph), and since people like this often have more than one skeleton in their closet, maybe the police might want a word with him. It would be nice to think they’d pull him over on a regular basis just to keep him on his toes, but you can only live in hope!

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TickWell done Sarah, who passed yesterday with 10 driver faults. It was her second test with me, but her eighth attempt overall!

Sarah’s biggest problem has been her nerves – she had been prescribed beta blockers and I made sure she took them for her test. She can drive, but she easily gets distracted by making things too complicated or overthinking them (as we walked into the test centre she asked which way she should drive to go out of the car park – I just said not to drive through a wall, because there was only one way in or out, and we’d just used it). On both her tests, I got texts late the previous evening asking things that weren’t important.

To be honest, I think the reason she hadn’t passed previously is that she’d had instructors who merely pandered to her nerves instead of trying to deal with them. I focused on the fact that she could drive, and built her confidence up from there.

Another milestone is that this was the first time I have had anyone in floods of tears – and I mean hard tears – because they passed. It meant that much to her. And she admitted that the possibility of passing, this time or in any future test, had not occurred to her.

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TickWell done Misha, who passed at the end of last month with just two driver faults. Misha is a professional carer who works those God-awful hours carers often do, and being able to drive is going to make a big difference to him. He plans to start looking for a better job in nursing.

It was hard for him, because his current job is so poorly paid, and it was only because a relative paid for the test that he could afford to even take it. A satisfying result for both of us.

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TickWell done Ayesha, who passed a few weeks ago with just two driver faults. It wasn’t her first test, but it was certainly a very good performance. We finally cracked her intermittent problem with roundabouts (intermittent in that it only ever happened on test).

It was her third test with me, but she’d failed four times before that – always involving a roundabout somewhere. The biggest problem was getting her to acknowledge that whatever her brain told her to do automatically was wrong, and that she needed to think more. I finally got through!

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I’ve not done one of these for a while, but today has been particularly bad for morons on the road and I had my registration plate file open in my graphics programme from that last story.LD61 JOJ - Red BMW

One of my pet hates is when people use the wrong lanes to cut ahead of everyone else and avoid queuing, especially when it’s only a small queue. LD61 JOJ – a Red BMW – did it this morning at the Nottingham Knight roundabout, and then shot off down the A60 at speed. He was initially going to queue properly – for all of 45 seconds – in the correct lane, but then his BMW brain kicked in (it’s a small thing about the size of a peanut, a few centimetres above the anus). So he cut sharply out and used one of the left-turn only lanes, then cut sharply back over on the roundabout.FD09 KTP - Black Saloon

A dangerous one, this. On the approach to the roundabouts at the junction of Mansfield Road and Gregory Boulevard this dickhead in the black saloon, reg. no. FD09 KTP, overtook my pupil (who wasn’t driving slowly) a few car lengths before the give way line. I saw him approach at speed, cut sharply out, and then speed past. He also sped around the two roundabouts and went back up Mansfield Road – so as well as being a dickhead, he was also a crap navigator.SW61 KGV - Black Peugeot 107

Another one of my pet hates – people texting when they have already demonstrated that they can’t drive in the first place. This black Peugeot 107, advertising Martin & Co (a local letting agent), overtook a pupil on  South Sherwood Street near Trinity Square. I’d already noticed that the driver was distracted when it was behind us, but when it cut sharply back in because it had used the wrong lane to gain advantage, I pointed out to my pupil that the driver was doing something in her lap (we could see her chav hair bun going up and down). She had no idea what was going on around her, and she continued to concentrate on whatever she was doing while stopped at subsequent lights on both Bluecoat Street and Woodborough Road. Come to think of it, she may not have been advertising Martin & Co – she may have been working for them, and was trying to navigate to a location.

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On a lesson this afternoon, we were driving up Woodborough Road and – surprise, surprise – there were road works. They were controlled by manual STOP/GO signs.Black vehicle BF53 SSK

Anyway, we were approaching them and several cars had already gone through. The signs were set to GO, and had been for some time. But some swarthy looking prat in a black sedan, reg. no. BF53 SSK, decided that he had some sort of special privileges and came through, causing us to brake. The signs were still set to GO as we left the road works area, so the big red STOP on his side would have been clear to all but the most stupid of people.

Judging from his appearance, the car he was driving, and the way he was driving it, the police might want to pull this twat over if they get a chance, because those kind of people tend to have other skeletons they’d rather keep hidden in the closet.

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