September 2009 - Andy turns 40...
October 2009 - Andy sells his beloved R1....
November 2009 - Andy's new regime appears to be working...
Today is my favourite day of the year – the WINTER SOLSTICE. The shortest day, hurrah! Not that I'm counting the hours or anything but the actually moment of 'solstice' will occur at 17:47 this afternoon. From that point on, the days are getting longer and summer is coming, its official! Fantastic! Got about a foot of snow here at the minute but at least the sun’s out. And, of course Woolly and Greebs are deliriously happy and are spending every available minute rolling about in it.
Also, that bloody annoying Copenhagen climate summit is all over. Thank God. It was all getting a bit hard to bear (see last weeks entry below) with ‘climate change this’ and ‘climate change that’ every two sodding minutes. In the depths of my despair last week I had a T-shirt printed (right) but I haven’t actually plucked up the courage to wear it in public yet. I imagine it will be an excellent conversation starter…
Went to watch Avatar in 3D on Thursday night. It is a hugely spectacular film but it’s just too damn long – nearly 3 hours. The first bit is great as you’re still getting used to the amazing 3D of it all but the middle hour is a bit drawn out with the inevitable ‘love story’ and the last part is again absolutely staggering. Some of the scenes are literally breathtaking – some of my favourites were the trippy 3D forest shots with strange phosphorescent willow trees and fungi, plus swarms of luminous flying jellyfish things for good measure. Truly amazing. To be honest I’d like to have seen more of that and less of the silly-flying-about-on-dragons nonsense.
Another month of training gone reasonably well and I’m currently enjoying the rest week in my four week cycle. I’ll just do some swimming this week and perhaps a nice steady ride on weds afternoon, if the snow has gone that is. The weather played havoc with training last week but despite the wind, rain, fog, sub zero temps and snow I completed the week and only had to resort to the turbo on Friday. Some heroic rides to and from work though - you really feel dedicated and like you've really achieved something on days like that. It made the usual mind-numbing torture of the turbo trainer seem very appealing. In fact I quite enjoyed it, spinning furiously in the kitchen in the warm watching ‘The Weakest Link’ – Mmmm… lovely.
Soon be the summer. Wahey!
Enjoyed the Audax on Saturday. Whizzed around in about 4 hours but was bloody knackered afterwards. I seem to have been the only one daft enough to do it on a mountain bike (although some of the tracks were more suited to it). Hard work but I achieved my primary objective of smashing myself to pieces.
The Climategate shockwaves continue. There are a lot more people asking questions about the data and the science involved. Unfortunately, the ‘antis’ seem to be as bad as the AGW proponents when it comes to backing up their arguments only with data that suits their version of events. Very disappointing but not entirely unpredictable.
However, stuff seems to be emerging that suggests that not even the ‘raw data’ used for the models is actually ‘raw’. The climatologists ‘homogenise’ it prior to using it and then release it as raw data for everyone else to use. This is very worrying. Even more worrying is that rather than using whole data sets, only figures which fit with the AGW theory are being used – a common practice it seems. A couple of interesting articles HERE and HERE. Why aren’t people rioting in the streets? I just don’t get it.
To be honest, I’m beyond the point of giving a crap. I’m starting to despise a moronic ‘general public’ for not questioning any of this stuff, and despise (with a vengeance) ignorant journalists spouting ‘facts’ which are blatant lies so they can make a name for themselves. Plus all those politicians & scientists who continue to peddle this crap for their own ends. Finally, and by no means least, ‘expert’ sceptics who employ exactly the same tactics as Phil Jones, Michael Mann et al who present half the story and resort to personal attacks.
Just the mere words ‘climate change’ are now sufficient for me to change the channel or even leave the room. I am sick to death of all this unscientific brainwashing bullshit. Just fuck off you fucking fuckers…. Aaaaarrrggghhhh…..
And I’m feeling especially grumpy this morning…..
Crash. Big accident mushing on Friday night, the first bad one for a while actually. I decided to take the boys around Fritton in the dark seeing as it was a lovely moonlit evening. My ’spare’ scooter has special brackets that I can hang a couple of powerful spotlamps off, powered by a 12v alarm battery but I couldn’t be bothered to ferret around in the shed for it. So I opted for the usual scooter and a LED headtorch plus W & G’s LED glow-in-the-dark collars.
Within 20 seconds of setting off, I realised there was no way near enough light and we’d have to reconsider but then, WHACK, I hit a tree stump at 20 odd mph and that was that. Huge crash, eased only by lots and lots of soft leaves on the ground. I initially thought I’d broken my leg but it just turned out to be a bit ‘dead’ where the handlebars had whacked it. W & G were most hacked off that I ruined their mush as I limped back to the car with them, swearing.
Back at the van, I also realised my headtorch was smashed to bits. Even worse, I’d just bought new batteries for it too and I'd lost them….
But, my night vision was getting seriously tuned by this point (one of the few good points about being colour-blind - see here), especially in the moonlight and W & G were still up for it so I straightened the scooter out and we set off very gingerly along a route we know really well. I started off riding the brakes quite heavily to keep the speed down but then I sort of heard Obi Wan’s voice in my head urging me to use The Force…
"Use The Force," urged Greebs, "Reach out with your feelings..."
I couldn’t really see a lot but I knew W & G could with their Terminator style wolf-o-vision so I just released the brakes and put my faith in them. I just made sure I stayed absolutely dead behind Greeb’s glowing collar (he’s the most sensible in the harness) and let go of the brakes.
Wow. A strange mix of sheer terror and exhilaration followed. I could just about make out the trails with my night vision but not any sort of details, I could just hear the wind whistling past and the odd twig slapping me in the face. But the boys were running tits out, they could see everything in the dark, dodging side to side avoiding stuff on the ground I couldn’t even see (puddles mainly!) I just stayed glued to Greebs. It was quite possibly the most exciting mush we’ve ever had. A wonderful bit of bonding with the huskies too. Fantastic!
The next morning I was up really early and heard strange noises coming from the kitchen. I got downstairs just in time to catch a strange metamorphosis taking place – I caught most of it on video (click on the picture above). At last, everything becomes clear….
Cycling. Had another mini ‘week 2’ peak last week. Did a couple of 58 min rides to work without trying especially hard – and I can’t even blame a tailwind this time. Very pleasing indeed. Doing a 100km Audax on sat which I’m really looking forward to (Norfolk Nips 2). I’ve spent the last 3 months cycling predominantly in the dark on my own so it’ll be nice to have some company and daylight for a change!
Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at UEA steps down following the 'Climategate' emails story. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/01/climate-change-scientist-steps-down. I'm saying nothing... no, not a thing....
Back training again this week after my 'week 1' off. Boo. Actually, I’m quite glad to back on me bike. Enjoyed swimming last week though – blimey, not sure if it’s because I’m fitter or the fact that I’m a lot skinnier and slip through the water better, but I smashed my 8 month old 1 mile record first time out! And rode into work this morning in an hour dead, averaging just 125 bpm. That’s a pb by a long way. Suspect slight tailwind, hmmm…. Worst bit was getting in 20 mins early. Booo….
Talking of 'Wind Assisted' bike rides, I found this bizarre patent the other day when searching the database for some stuff at work. It was filed in 1977. No, no, stop laughing, it's a real patent - have a look yourself http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6880844.html
Interesting revelations over the internet last week too regarding Climate Change scientists. The server at the Climatic Research Unit at UEA got hacked and about 15 years worth of emails ended up in the public domain. Some of them could potentially be slightly embarrassing for the staff there as they hint at result fiddling and unfavourable information being buried. You can find every single one here (http://www.eastangliaemails.com/index.php) if you’re interested. To be fair, there is no mention of a hoax or a cover up but you do get a sense of a group of well-meaning people that believe so fanatically in what they are doing that they’ve completely lost any sense of objectivity. That’s not healthy.
I stress again that I’m not a loony conspiracy theorist, but I’m starting to get the impression that the wheels are beginning to come off the Climate Change train. I think someone needs to come up with some hard evidence FAST. I watched Question Time with amazement on Thursday where a couple of the panel, whilst discussing the CRU ‘leaks’, stated that they’d never believed a word of it and that there wasn’t a shred of evidence! Then, in a programme afterwards, Michael Portillo also publically expressed his doubts over the theory. That wouldn’t have happened a year or so ago! What's going on?? I would like to retell the story of a conversation I had with a member of the CRU when I was a student at UEA. The gentleman concerned still works there and I’ve seen his name mentioned in some of the leaked emails.
“Besides Andy,” he smiled, “there’s a absolute fortune to be made out of Armageddon, isn’t there?”
I’ll never forget it and a few people still don’t believe me, but in light of these new emails I feel slightly vindicated. It’s all starting to look a bit smelly. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategate-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/
Travelodge: Not a big fan of free advertising for companies but Travelodge had a mental sale last week, flogging rooms off next spring for £9 a night. As soon as the sale started I booked us on a week long tour of Britain using their cheapy rooms. Ok, not the best locations (most by motorways) but our adventure takes us to the Lakes via the Peak District to a few days in Edinburgh and then home via Lindisfarne and Whitby. All for £54. Yes, 54 quid for a week’s hotel accommodation. A blinding deal by any standard. Can’t wait!!
Wow. Just completed the best 4 week training cycle since getting back on my bike this time last year. Had a really hard final week 4 last week , half expecting to have to back off mid-week as I was bound to be totally shattered. But I managed it easily, in spite of a big volume of pretty hard going. Been blitzing to work and back averaging 135 to 140 bpm, taking about 1:20 each way, on a mountain bike with knobbly tyres. I’ve even been adding a few extra miles on to increase the volume more!
Was expecting it to be mid week this week before I recovered and the resting pulse bottomed back out again but I did a short recovery ride on Sunday (in the rain, again!!) and lay on the couch about 30 mins afterwards to find it settling back to the low 50’s fairly easily. Got up this morning and was almost sad to be driving in and not cycling.
But I must have a rest this week really. I’m planning to go swimming a 2 or 3 times and stay completely off the bike until sat or sun. Then I can have another big cycle just before xmas which should set me up nicely for the new year.
Spent most of the weekend redecorating the stairs and landing. Been meaning to do it for ages but only managed to find the enthusiasm recently. Bit sad in a way because our cat Blossom who died last year used to enjoy scratching the wallpaper off at the top of the stairs but now her little bit of feline graffiti has gone forever.
Bitter sweet few days really. All the good stuff like Sue getting on really well in her degree (girlie swot), my training STILL going really well, a really successful week on a new project at work etc all marred by a horrible incident when out mushing on Sunday. To cut a long story short, poor Greebs got started on by (yet another) out of control dog under the supervision of a little girl. Absolutely horrific dog fight ensued with blood and teeth everywhere. I also got myself bitten by the offending dog and needed hospital treatment and anti-biotics. I could rant on for ages but to cut a long story short, I’m getting increasingly pissed off with owners of out of control dogs that have spoiled many a mush / walk for us. It’s irresponsible and anti-social. I would love to let my dogs gallop free but I know full well they’d just be a boisterous nuisance so never do it. If you can’t keep your dog under close control, KEEP IT ON A LEAD. Apart from anything else, it’s the law. http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/dangerous/index.htm#3
On a lighter note on the nicer side of nature, got buzzed by the most enormous formation of geese cycling into work this morning. Felt a bit like one of Harris’ ‘Thousand Bomber Raids’, all of them in a wide V shape with a few stragglers honking and quacking desperately at the back. The theory on why they fly in a V is widely accepted as being for aerodynamic reasons – basically the trailing bird surfs the wake vortex of the bird in front. As a pilot, I’m not sure about this particular theory because tip vortices are very dirty and turbulent, in fact many an aeroplane has crashed as a result of a wake turbulence encounter. To get the effect described, the birds would have to be much closer, almost directly above and behind. There undoubtedly is an aerodynamic benefit - some sort of boundary layer effect from the turbulent air perhaps – but I’m not sure about the tip vortex one. From a practical point of view, it makes keeping a good scan and lookout much easier, after all that’s why air force pilots all over the world do it too. Plus, don’t forget that birds crap in flight. Directly below or behind could be disastrous…..
Left is a picture of the new track recycling machine we’ve been building at work. Fired it up for the first time last week and it works a treat. It blasts the rubber off scrap caterpillar tracks (like those found on minidiggers etc) and leaves rubber crumb and clean steel behind, both of which can then be reused. At present, these things end up in landfill so Andy saves a very tiny part of the planet yet again. Much, much easier than tyres and potentially more of a money spinner too!
Still piling in some good training miles into work and back - I already feel loads fitter than the summer.
Bit treacherous cycling in the dark though. I try to keep off the main roads as they're downright scary when everyone is in a blind rush to get home in the evening, so I use a lot of very rural back roads. Even with the mega set of lights I've got, it can be virtually impossible to spot every rock, hole, pile of horse crap, dead animal etc, especially as I'm going fairly briskly at the moment. Had a spill the other friday and whacked a rock, damaging the front tyre and rim and destroying my inner tube although it could have been much worse. So I've decided to retire the road bike for the winter now and switch to my mountain bike. Those big chunky tyres etc are much more stable in the bumpy, muddy conditions and I feel much safer. Probably better for you too - you don't really get anything for free riding an MTB with knobbly tyres, you have to work a little harder. Plus it's easier to hold a heart rate too. And it takes about 10 mins longer.
Temperature has dropped enough now, so getting out mushing with W & G on a regular basis. I can't ever remember them having such wildly differing 'form' at the start of the winter though. Woolly was going like he'd spent the summer chain smoking or something while Greebs was going like a rocket from the off. The gap is closing fast though and Woolly is slowly whipping himself into a bit of shape. Greebo is the speed merchant and regularly blows himself to pieces within 20 minutes, while Woolly hasn't got anywhere near Greebs top speed but tends to pace himself better. More often than not it's Woolly doing most of the work on the home stretch when Greebs is totally smashed. Woolly must think I'm a bit dim though - a trick he learned fairly earlier on was to j-u-s-t put enough weight on his line to take up the slack and fool me that he was actually pulling. Lazy boy. Still tries it every now and then though - Siberians can be too clever by half sometimes.
I'm off to the MPH Show at the NEC to man the BloodhoundSSC stand on thursday. The show car and everything will be there again, so come along!
Phew. Busy few days again, think I’m about due for a weekend off! Brilliant, brilliant time at the Manchester Science Festival again and I remembered my belt this time!
Finally heard back from the solicitors about my bike accident in the week. As expected, I’ve received a paltry offer from the driver’s insurers for my wrecked bike of about half the value. I suppose I’ll get a paltry settlement for my injuries and paltry loss of earnings compensation too. It’s bloody annoying all this – I’ve been left lying on my arse in the road, injured, wrecked bike and out of pocket, absolutely none of it my fault and yet I get treated so dreadfully by the legal ‘process’. I said this at the time, but if the driver had just apologised, just once, and owned up to making a mistake and offered to pay for the damage, I’d have let it go without all this nonsense. But she didn’t even bother to see if I was alright, in fact she sent a letter accusing me of making it all up and initially tried to lie to her insurance company, changing her position on the crossroads to make it look like my fault, changing the always put my faith in the adage that horrible people usually get what's coming to them eventually, so there's no point. When the fuss has died down, I’ll put her letter on here. Some humans really let themselves down sometimes. My boss calls them 'oxygen thieves'. I quite like that.
The motorist was confident that the police believed his story until...
Take more than that to put me off cycling though. Back on the bike again after my lazy few weeks off and enjoyed some lovely rides to work in the early morning mist and dew. Beautiful scenes watching the sun rise over the marshes, it almost makes getting up at stupid o’clock worth it!
Oh, and found this little thing in a corner of the museum in Manchester, an old Mainair Triflyer. Had to do a bit of a double take as I flew one of these 'museum pieces' on a check flight not so long back! Scariest few minutes of my life. When you've been used to flying microlights with a hundred horsepower that fly at 100mph, it's quite a shock to get into something 'retro' like this. I remember taking off and as soon as it got out of ground effect it stopped climbing. I had to do a few laps of the field I'd taken off from to get enough height to clear the trees around it, then I had to ridge soar a long line of poplars to get up to a couple of hundred feet! They were the days....
Great weekend. Really enjoyed my stint on the Bloodhound SSC stand in Manchester. Exhausting though. It’s made me realise more than ever what a powerful recruiting sergeant this could be for Science and Engineering in the UK. It’s going to be huge. I mean ginormous. I've been asked to look into the environmental side of the education programme for them which feels like a real honour.
I made it doubly difficult for myself though unfortunately by selecting a pair of trousers that I obviously hadn’t worn since losing all my flab and I spent most of the day pulling / holding them up. So I apologise to anyone at the show who was traumatised by the sight of my pants. I promise to wear a belt on Wednesday when I’m there again.
Even worse than that though is that a minibus full of kids saw me doing bonkers 'Air Drumming' to Led Zeppelin in the van whilst stuck in a traffic jam on the A1 on the way home and all thought it was highly amusing. Well, I was bored, I couldn't help it. How embarrassing. Anyway, I'm 40, I can get away with that sort of stuff now. I'll be embarrassing my step-kids at discos next...
Talking of skinny, I uncovered this photo on my uni mate John Swindell’s website. The photo is remarkable for two reasons (ok, three if you count the scary finishing line grimace!). The first is how thin I am! The second is that this is the only photo I’ve got of my faithful road bike getting used in anger. This is the same bike that got totalled in the collision with an asshole motorist in February, so it’s a bit sad. This was taken at the student hillclimb champs on Nick o’Pendle. Hillclimbing is even more of a daft pastime than time-trialling – I’m not a fan as you can tell from my expression.
Also, check out these sketches of the doggies that my step-daughter did. She obviously must have her mum's artisitic genes as I think she's captured them perfectly, in that caricature sort of way.
Bit dull this last couple of weeks really.
Sue’s really enjoying her art degree course and every available flat surface at Tyler Towers is rapidly filling up with sketches and other strange creations. Great to see her so excited about stuff. I'm hoping to get some of her stuff up on the interweb soon.
Had a bit of a shock the other day digging through my old cycling scrapbook and results sheets. In the mid-nineties, I rode the student track championships at the velodrome in Manchester (Bronze in team pursuit, that's all). Anyway, I found a familiar name at the same meeting, a young student from Heriot-Watt uni called Chris Hoy. I think I can remember my mate Adam pointing him out at the time but I'd completely forgotten about it until now. Fancy that.
Had a big 200 litre brew up of biodiesel ready for a lot of driving the next couple of weeks. Off up to Manchester at the weekend and the odd day over half term to do my ‘Science Ambassador’ bit at the Manchester Science Festival. I’m on the Bloodhound SSC stand in the Museum of Science and Industry. I’m really excited about it!
Given the dog scooter it’s annual rebuild & service. Always amazes me how bent it gets – I really must crash less often. Anyway, in fine fettle now and ready for some hardcore winter mushing as soon as it gets cold enough.
It’s the third one I built. The first two were lovingly zapped together like lightweight bike frames but they proved to be a bit fragile. MK1 is still used as a spare when Sue wants to come out for a mush so we can have a dog & scooter each. After a big crash a few years ago, Sue only likes to take Woolly out on his own now. Greebs is a bit too mental when he gets his harness on so he pulls me!
The MK2 was stolen but was almost beyond straightening anyway so I wasn’t too angry. The MK3 was built to be indestructible – thick box section, massively powerful disc brakes, huge chunky tyres and triple clamp suspension forks. Even Woolly and Greebs can’t break that one! Then again….
Sue aboard the MK2 on Gorleston Beach
Tears at the weekend. I’ve been keeping this quiet but I decided to sell my beloved R1 a few weeks ago. Thing is, I’ve barely used it for the last couple of years so it seemed a bit silly to keep it. I was going to sell it last autumn but decided against it, thinking I’d get out on it loads this summer. But it never happened.
I sold it on Friday to a bloke who lives in Lowestoft, so I imagine I’ll still see it around from time to time. Bit of a choker as we’ve had some serious fun and adventures on it the last few years but I think it’s gone to a good home.
To be honest, I’d got to the stage where I spent half my time worrying about losing my licence, the other half worrying about killing myself on it. I’d stopped getting that big buzz on it a long time ago which is silly considering that was the main reason I bought it! Ah well. Still, I've always got my VIDEOS to reminisce with...
Anyway, it’s freed up a bit of dosh for other stuff, like cycling gear.
My brother Dave being delivered to his wedding by yours truly on the R1. We looked a right pair riding up the M5 dressed like that!
Cycled into work this morning after taking 10 days off the bike. October is generally the ‘lazy’ month for cyclist so didn’t feel too guilty and the break has done me good. Really dark though and it will only get darker as the winter looms….
Once the clocks change, I'll probably go back to swimming a couple of times a week. Be interesting to see how my time for the mile has changed with all this cycling. Having said that, I might have a go at this. Looks good fun....
Blimey, another month gone.
Disappointing ride in yesterday’s CC Breckland 10. Had pinned my hopes on getting under 22 mins but felt flat as a fart on the day. To be honest, I was ready to go last week after an awesome week of training so it appears I literally peaked too soon. I had to rest most of last week because of a major resting pulse blip and am terrified I have slipped into the dreaded over-training. To be honest, I'm desperately hoping it IS over-training and not a reappearance of the dreaded syndrome that wrecked my cycling last time round. I have been putting a bit of a brave face on things but, to be honest, it's felt a little like I've been back in the grip of it since July. I'm desperately, desperately hoping I'm wrong but I don't think so. Arse.
I KNOW there’s a 21 minute ride in there this year and I have put too much pressure on myself to do it with potentially horrendous consequences. Ok, ok, 3 months ago I was content to get under 24 mins as that was my season’s target so I’m perhaps being a bit greedy.
Nothing went right really. For a start, I felt knackered when the alarm went off first thing. Resting heart rate was almost exactly the same as the ticking alarm clock, which isn't good. I knew I was tired 'cos I didn't get the usual buzz out of my deadly strong morning cup of coffee! Then I couldn't warm up or muster any enthusiasm for the ride. Then there was a healthy tailwind component on the way out which immediately meant the top gear of 53 x 13 on my cheapy screw-on was going to be useless for the quick bits. I’ve been meaning to change it for one with a 12 or even an 11 but haven’t got round to it. Will now though! I also totally forgot my plan, overcooked it and blew on the hard into wind / uphill parts at 6-7 miles. That was the end of the ride to be honest. Managed 22:40 which was almost identical to my PB, but everyone else who I normally finish with in the local club '10s' was 40-60 seconds quicker than me this time, so something is going seriously wrong again. I'm already regretting having that hard, hard week when I was on holiday - it seems to have pushed me right over the edge. I need to ease right off otherwise I'm going to end up making myself ill again. I've achieved my goal for this year, now I just need to chill out and let it go! The training is in my legs, I don't need to push any more.
I also think I’m underestimating the effects of boozing at the weekends on my training, recovery and sleep. Think I’m going to have to address this over the winter and next year if I want to get back to riding 20:somethings. I also need to find the time to get a long ride in every week. My body thrives on long, steady rides but I just don’t know how I’m going to fit it in. Must lose some weight too - I really feel it on those long drags. My BMI is down to 24.1 which is the heavy end of 'normal'. Another 5-6 kgs can come off without any problem.
Me, looking totally demotivated at 5.1 miles.
Nice new shoes though!
Next TT is on the 12th. I'll try and get some really steady recovery miles in and rest up a bit. I'll DNS unless I'm feeling much, much better and the resting HR comes back below 50.
Staggering ride by Nino Piccoli on Monday though – 18:40 something. I passed him in the van on the way home just before the turn and he must have been touching 40mph. Incredible stuff.
Chilled out with Sue and doggies in the garden all afternoon, making the most of what could be the last nice weekend of summer 2009. Woolly decided to help us out with a bit of digging while Greebs discovered a mouse which he chased under the back gate. He then sat Terminator style for about 4 hours, transfixed and staring at the gap under the gate, waiting for it to come back. It never did. I had far too much to drink again. No more booze for the next fortnight, that's a promise...
"I'll give you a hand," says Woolly
"I 'ate you Butler...."
Woke up with a sniffle and niggly sore throat - I seem to have caught a wee lurgy. Well, that explains a lot! I'm almost relieved....
Thought I'd throw in a spurious photo of Blakey just to cheer myself up....
Winter has arrived! Bloody hell, talk about flicking a switch. Not the best morning to opt for a steady recovery ride to work. 17 miles into a 25 knot gusting wind took 1 hr 20 mins. And I got soaked. Ah well, should get home a lot quicker....
Forgetting all about cycling for a week or two…. Although resting HR back down to 52 this morning. Still got bit of a sore throat (so has Sue) but a few days of very, very steady recovery rides to work have helped no end.
Anyway, there are many much more interesting distractions this time of year, such as making homemade wine! We’ve made all sorts over the years, our absolute favourite is probably rhubarb, although hawthorn was a pleasant surprise one year, oh, and rowanberry. And mead too!!! Mmmm... We’ve already been out gathering wild fruit once this year and are hoping to get out again on Sunday. Got a huge passiflora in the garden this year with enough flowers on it to potentially yield a couple of gallons of Passionfruit Wine! That’ll be a strange one! This is what I’ve got going so far:
The red ones at the front are rhubarb and beetroot – I read somewhere that beetroot is the next superfood so I thought I’d give it a go. Fantastic colour! Next two back are apple, made from our apple tree ‘Joyce’ in the garden. We also have a pear tree ‘Fred’. They were named after Sue’s aunt and Uncle who died a few years ago. Fred gave us the trees shortly before he died – they were his pride and joy – and we transplanted them into our garden.
Then at the back is one rhubarb, then a honeysuckle and rose petal furthest away.
Got a freezer full of random windfalls and I’ll get them going a bit later in the winter. Yummy!
If it stays nice and cool tomorrow, I'm hoping to get the hounds out for their first full-on mush since March!! Dead excited!!!
Busy 10 days both domestically and at work. Best bit was getting the van through the MOT first time without too much hassle. I bought it as ‘spares or repair’ a year or so ago for virtually nothing and all I did was fit a new windscreen, fit some bulbs , do a little bit of welding and it was as good as new (it’s only 9 years old). Only had a couple of little fiddly jobs to do on it this year, so really pleased! Another year of virtually free motoring! Hurrah!!
Had a fairly chilled out time trial on Saturday which I actually only decided to turn up for at the last minute. Two o’ clock start but I felt knackered when I got up so just decided to go out for a steady morning ride instead. After an hour or so though, I felt pretty good, so threw everything in the back of the van and had a go! Two weeks of soft pedalling hadn’t exactly done a lot for my form but everything felt good and I cracked 24 mins fairly easily, despite it being deceptively windy. I think everyone was expecting to come flying back from the turn with a tailwind but it never really happened.
I also got to try out my new team skinsuit which, despite being unbelievably difficult to get on the first time, looks the business. Sue was very diplomatic when I asked her if she was sure it wasn’t too small.
“Well,” she began, “You were hoping to lose a bit of weight over the winter, weren’t you?”
Ah well, I’ll shrink into it I suppose.
My last ride as a 'Senior'. I'm a 'Veteran' as from next week.....
Another busy week. Lots and lots of miles – in the car, not on the bike unfortunately. Paid a visit to the Recycling and Waste Management exhibition at the NEC mid week. Bit of a busman’s holiday really but, if you’re in the recycling game like I am, it’s a good place to get the gossip, see all the new gear & meet people. Had a particularly entertaining conversation with a Korean guy on his stand for recycled rubber products made from scrap car tyres.
“We take tyre and make shit,” he explained politely.
“We make shit. Big shit. Shit… ess aitch ee ee tee.”
“Yes sir, shit….”
An interesting day, plus it added a whole new dimension to my corny joke repertoire.
“How was the exhibition Andy?”
“Well, a load of rubbish really, ha… ha.. ha.. ha…”
Then on Sunday I retraced most of that journey to the Transport Museum in Coventry for the latest Bloodhound SSC 1K Club meeting. A really good day with my first ever sight of Thrust SSC and Thrust 2 which are on display there. Amazed how big SSC was – like a bus. As ever Andy Green and Richard Noble where on hand to give us the guided tour. Finally got chance to chat with Daniel Jubb, the Bloodhound SSC rocket guru. Again, I have an interest in what he does as his rocket runs on rubber and I recycle tyres for a living, so I was wondering if he’d consider trying the rocket on some of my recycled rubber. He promised that one day he’d try it. Well, we’ve got to get rid of the bloody stuff somehow!!
I’m off to London on Friday to a conference with the Rubber and PVC Society, desperately hoping it’s not a wind up. Seems strange that it’s in Soho though…. (Not really!)
Quiet week training – just too busy / tired. This week looks just as busy, what with the trip to London… oh, and my 40th birthday…..
Strange week. The rubber seminar in London was a bit of a let down, in fact the main guy I went to see didn’t show up. Never mind. However, Sue scived off college for the day and came with me. We parted at Big Ben and while I was talking rubber with my esteemed colleagues, she took a walk down the South Bank and popped in to the Tate Modern. And got told off by a security man. Nice one!
We spent the day getting about on the Clipper boats on the river. Limits where you can go a bit but much more fun than the Tube. We stood on the front and had a Di Caprio / Winslet ‘Titanic’ moment.
Thames Clipper - Much better view than the Tube...
There then followed an evening of very expensive pub crawling and taking strange ‘arty’ photographs. I took one using nothing but reflected light from a bald man's shiny head but he took exception to it and left. Ooopps. The long exposure swirly ones of the lights on the embankment are far out though.
We had a big fry-up to stave off our expensive hangovers and visited the 100%Design exhibition at Earls Court. I was hoping to make up for the lack-lustre rubber do at Westminster and peddle my wares. Had a few good enquiries. Then one of those awful five-sweaty-armpits-in-your-face Tube trips back to Liverpool Street and home. Bloody knackered. London – nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there. Always sooo glad to leave.
My birthday passed without too much drama – a quick pub crawl around Gorleston then home for a Chinese and gallons of homemade rhubarb wine. 40. Blimey. Still feel 19 though (although my knees might disagree…)
Still piling really good quality training miles in too. I’m managing a 34 mile round trip to work most days at various intensities without too much drama, in fact I hardly notice it now. It’s odd that I can do it in about 30 mins in the car but normally takes just less than an hour each way on the bike. It doesn’t feel like I’m going half as fast, if you see what I mean. Getting really dark in the evenings now so it’s imperative to get all the lights fitted this weekend. It would be a really nice ride if I wasn’t doing it at rush-hour every day. I’ve can manage about ¾ of it off the main roads but that ¼ on the A143 can get scary, especially over the dam at Haddiscoe. The crossroads at Belton where I got knocked off always makes me extra twitchy too…
Oh, and got under 13st for the time! 12 ½ by xmas?
A very busy week. Spent most of my spare time working on Sue’s car for the dreaded MOT. Nothing major, apart from a horrendous oil leak which required a retapping of one of the rocker cover holes, few emissions problems (stuck EGR valve, leaky turbo seals) and stuff like bulbs and wipers etc. Oh, and a new brake hose and tyre.
God, I hate the MOT every year. I make it worse for myself as I have to do it 3 times, one for Sue, one for the van and one for the bike. Fortunately, the bike always goes through without any problems and is almost enjoyable.
Sue’s Astra estate was bought as an ‘old banger’ just to keep us going for a month or two. That was 2 years ago! It’s actually turned out to be a nice little car and, for all my moaning, has gone through the last couple of MOT’s with little stress. Looks like we’ll get another year out of it too! Will try to take the MOT slightly more in my stride next time…
And the horrible hounds have surpassed themselves by eating my cycling aero helmet! It was wrapped up in a pillow case and left on the kitchen table so the boys must have thought it was one of my ‘Hide something nice inside the blanket’ games. Hooligans. Managed to repair the fibre glass and gel coat at work and it doesn’t look too bad. Good job I only paid a few quid off Ebay or I’d have been really pissed off. Greebs has a history of eating things he shouldn’t. HAVE A LOOK AT THIS...
The van broke down on the way to a time trial on weds evening and what with getting there late and stressed and in the rain, I was suffering from a slight lack of motivation. Did 25 something and amused the timekeepers with all my swearing and gasping as I crossed the finish line. Bloody stupid pastime…
Something in the fuel tank seems to have blocked a hose somewhere on the van. I reversed the pick up and return lines to the tank and it was fine and it got me home. Reconnected it properly and it’s running okay again, so whatever it was, it’s gone (for now….)
With all the dull stuff out the way, I had a fantastic few days of training, culminating with Sue escorting me on a ride to Norwich on Sunday. Wimped out a bit though and after a roast dinner and several pints, got the train home instead.
A ‘brisk’ ride on Saturday has got me very confused about the whole time trial thing. I rode just over 40 miles in 2 hours on my training bike without trying especially hard (mean heart rate was 145 bpm). Subjectively, it felt like a fairly easy pace so how can it be that on a better bike, wearing a skinsuit, with aerobars etc I can barely average 23-24 mph over a quarter of the distance, only to cross the finish line ‘breathing out of my arse’ as my brother put it (cheers Dave)? I know all about the drag ‘square law’ etc but something isn’t right? Is the position on the TT bike cramping my breathing? Restricting power output? Or am I simply starting too hard and blowing myself to bits, leaving myself with nothing but jelly legs and lactic acid to finish with?
My usual jokey answer to, “how did you do?” is, “about 8 miles too far!”. Perhaps that’s not a million miles from the truth. I’m suspecting that my actual output is several minutes behind what my heart monitor is telling me. I’m going to try and hold 10 beats below my normal pace for the first 5 – 6 mins next time and then arrive at the turn still 5 beats below. Then just see what happens on the way back. I know I’m not race fit yet and I always was rubbish at ‘10s’ but I should be going better than am!
23:27 last night! Wa-bloody-hey!!
Can’t tell you how chuffed I am. Quickish course but 6 roundabouts and a niggly crosswind. I stuck to the plan and rode well within myself to the turn and turned it up from there. Overdid it slightly and blew on a slight climb about 8 miles in, but well pleased. I think there could well be a 22 min ride in there this year, somewhere….
Oddly, the saddle on the TT bike felt far too low when I was warming up, despite it being set at the same height as my training bike. I put it up about a centimetre and it immediately felt much better. Don’t know if that was another reason I went quicker.
The two guys behind me on a tandem were 15 secs up on me at the turn but I finished about 20 seconds ahead of them. So I pulled out 35 seconds on the 5 miles home which makes me think the start was a bit too steady. Ah well, all part of the learning curve. If I stick to what I'm doing and stay healthy, I can beat that by the end of the season.
Blimey! What on earth is going on!! Almost enjoyed the ride and paced it fairly comfortably to be honest. Could I be looking at finishing the season with a '21'? It's a tantalising thought. Rapidly running out of events but there's a potential quick ride on bank holiday monday. Might do some special preparation for that one and give it a real go....
Some kind soul filmed the whole event. You can find it here. Fast forward to about 7 mins 20 secs and watch out for the fat bloke in black....
Just got back to work from 10 days holiday. Feel all refreshed and raring to go again. Well, that might be stretching it a bit.
We had planned to go camping in Somerset and then on to Cornwall but this is the first year we’ve not had a big campervan or caravan and the logistics of getting the camping gear, 3 people & two dogs comfortably into an Astra estate were daunting. Besides, everyone hates camping anyway, don’t they?
The weather has been so nice that we decided to stay at home – it seems daft driving for hundreds of miles when you live 2 mins walk from the beach! Think we all enjoyed it far more than the stress of camping. I’ve been given a VW Camper by Sue’s dad as a bit of a winter rebuild project and I’ve now got an incentive to get it sorted for next summer. It hasn’t run for about 5 years and has been slowly dissolving into rust at their house so it’s now up to me to save it! More soon....
We did have a nice weekend in Leicestershire though. I stopped at my mums and Sue and Sass camped at the nearby BAREFOOT dance festival. Not really my sort of thing. I spent the weekend out on my bike training around Charnwood Forest on some decent climbs and rolling terrain. Bloody hell, forgotten how hilly it is there! I rode myself to destruction one day, culminating in 3 ascents of Beacon Hill. I broke a spoke in the rear on the last one which I like to think was due to the awesome kilowatts going through the cogs, but it's more likely it's because the bike is cheap and I'm overweight...
Got an excellent week of training in back at home afterwards actually and seem to have bought my fitness and form on in leaps and bounds. Think it’s more to do with getting lots of rest and lazing around rather than the training to be honest.
"Old John", Bradgate Park
Woolly appears to be sooo desperate to find a bit of speed from somewhere that he's prepared to try anything....
31/8/2009 - Disappointing ride in the Bank Holiday '10' on the A11. 22:40 though, so not too awful....
Lance Armstrong gets his head kicked in by Contador on the climb to Verbier. Haw haw haw... Storming ride by Wiggo - now 3rd in the GC!
Sue's offer of a place at Norwich University of the Arts was made official. Now crapping ourselves about tuition fees, student loans etc. Looks like I'll have to do a bit of moonlighting down the docks with a pair of rubber gloves and vaseline...
Excellent week of training for me this week, topped off by some mend-bending intervals in the shed just now. Work & domestic stuff permitting, I'm hoping to ride a '10' on tues and thurs this week. The sub 24 minute ride is pretty much a formality on tues I reckon.
"Gertie wished she hadn't ignored the Met Office warnings about severe turbulence...."
Bonkers mush with Woolly & Greeb on sat at Winterton. No crashes or drama. Woolly, for a change, actually did his fair share for which he was handsomely rewarded at the FISHERMAN'S RETURN with beer and crisps.
Had a bit of an 'environmental disaster' in the van on the way home - sharp braking caused one of the veg oil containers I'd just picked up to fall over and absolutely bloody fill the passenger footwell with scampi fragranced oil. I cleaned most of it up but the rest has had today to ferment in the sun and I just can't wait to get in it and drive to work tomorrow...
I knew it! I bloody knew it! Sue tested positive for swine flu today. Off shortly to pick up her Tamiflu prescription. She's been poorly all week with exactly the same symptoms I had a week or two ago. That means I had it too - no wonder I was so bloody ill!
Rode two 10's this week and noticed the lack of training caused by the above Baconoid Influenzatron. Having said that I felt really good, just not fit enough. Clattered a huge pothole on the 'sporting' course around Hethel I rode last night and got the most horrific crack from my rear Spinergy wheel. Thought I was a goner but all seems okay. Still tantalisingly close to the 23 minute mark on tuesday but didn't do it. Me & bike felt good though so just a matter of time.
However, I would like to point out that I almost certainly rode the Open on the A11 at Wymondham with Swine Flu! 24:20 with Swine Flu! Blimey! Fortunately my spleen didn't burst etc.
All stocked up with Tamiflu but Sue is feeling much better without it. We'll keep it in stock for when H1N1 mutates into something slightly more dangerous. Sue went back to work today but I think she'll feel dreadful in another day or two like I did when the virus does its second lap. Glad we've both had it and got it out the way.
Was supposed to test ride the new R1 on saturday, the one with the Moto GP style 'crossplane' crankshaft. Got to the dealers only to be told I needed both parts of my licence, not just the plastic card. Slightly miffed as that's not normally the case but the salesman explained that it wouldn't be a problem as we were regular customers and had bought our last R1 from there etc etc. His manager then proceeded to talk about us in a very loud voice as if we weren't there declaring, "just because they shop here and have come on their bike, doesn't mean he's got a licence. He might be banned, or have been done for drinking and driving or riding with no insurance or anything...."
We couldn't leave the shop quick enough and we won't be going there ever again. Good manners cost nothing and a polite 'I'm really sorry, we really need to see both parts of your licence' would have sufficed. Incidentally, I have a clean driving licence. So Tinklers of Norwich - you are a shower of twats. Learn some manners and some customer service skills.
Still fuming, we headed home and as we passed another dealership CJ BALL IN NORWICH, Sue tapped me on the shoulder and said "Why don't we take the new Fireblade out instead?" So we did. And they were incredibly helpful and polite and couldn't do enough for us. And the Fireblade is a much nicer looking bike than the R1 anyway. And goes like a rocket! So there!
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