New Bike!

A few weeks ago I said to a driver at work that I’d found a great route into work but it was cruel on my fancy bike taking it along the canal. He said I should get a gravel bike.

I googled one later. It seems it’s much like a road bike (or ‘racer’ as they were called when I was a yoof) but with a wider frame clearance to take fatter tyres, a more relaxed geometry, and a slightly higher crank (for clearance).

I had a look. Some of them were dearer than my tri bike. I only wanted a knock about commuter. I had a moan on Twitter and was told that gravel bikes were the latest trend, that’s why they were so expensive, I should look at Cyclocross (CX) bikes (the sport where idiots race through mud then carry their bikes at a run up hills that are too steep and muddy to ride) as it is basically the same thing, but not trendy, therefore loads cheaper.

In my usual obsessive way I went from never having heard of one to armchair expert in 24 hours. I decided the one with the best spec on the gears, brakes and brand name frame was the Giant TCX.

Then I thrashed eBay and Gumtree for a bike. The problem I had is Giant were most specific that my statuesque 5’ 6½” meant I had to get a Small. Hardly any to be had, and dear. One for £600+.

I saw one on Gumtree for £250, with better gears and spec than a £350 on eBay that still had a few days bidding left on it (so sure to go up a lot at the last minute).

It was in Bristol.

Of course it was.

He said it was in average condition. Everything worked but it had a few scratches. Sounds good to me.

I arranged to go and look at it on the Saturday, but then he pulled the advert on the Thursday. I was gutted. I did another thrash of the internet and confirmed I was going to have to pay a lot more for less spec.
I text him to confirm he’d sold it. He hadn’t! Yay! A lot of muppets had been hassling him over the bike so he’d just pulled the advert. He said they were giving him 20 questions about the scratches. “It’s a £200 bike”.

Hmmm, I’d been happy at £250. I said if it was the bike in the pic, and it all worked, I’d give him £230, consider it sold.

He said I could have it for £200!

It was a long, tedious drive, but the bike is perfect for me.

I’ve done some basic tinkering; cleaned years of built up oil off the chain and sprockets, lowered the seat, lowered the handlebars (put the stem under the spacers) fitted clip in pedals, adjusted the (disc) brakes so it now does stoppies, and pumped the tyres to their feeble max. On my tri bike the tyres are 23mm, 105psi front and 115psi rear. This is 40mm, 75psi and 85psi. So soft, wide, grippy tyres.

20190715_174948

Job’s a good ‘un.

Oh, the other thing about these bikes is they have fittings for attaching mudguards! (How did that become a notable design feature?) So I can stick some of them on as well.

I took it to work. I can ride the first 5 miles off road, through the park and along he canal path (above). Which just leaves the last 3.8 miles of quiet roads.That’s the other thing about CX bikes, they have the gearing and tyres and geometry to be capable on the road as well as off it.

It is liberating. My tri bike you have to wear the kit, go like stink, and look miserable. I wouldn’t dream of nipping to the shops on it. It’s just not the right tool for the job, and it’s so expensive I’d be too nervous someone would nick it.

On my CX I can ride to work, nip the shop, or ride to the leisure centre and leave it locked up outside. It’s just a no hassle, do anything and everything bike. And because it’s not a race bike, not on the road, and doesn’t have race tyres, or tri bars even, I don’t feel the pressure to be going as fast as I possibly can. I can enjoy cycling again. Especially as I can now ride away from traffic.

Today, as a final bit of training before next week’s Outlaw triathlon, I took it for a ride along the TransPennine Trail (TPT). It’s a route of canal paths and tracks linked occasionally by short blasts on very quiet roads that stretches from the West to the East coast. I wanted to ride to the top of the Pennines. By road, Google said it was 44 miles. HA!

It’s a great route. Very quiet and with enough challenging surfaces to keep you from getting bored.

However, the signposting is rubbish.

I’d been out hours, got lost a bunch of times, and only made it to Stockport Pyramid. Google said I had another 2 hours to go. Then I lost the trail completely, so I came home.

This is how well is was signposted:

Screenshot_2019-07-18 Garmin Connect

That red line (the route I took) should be a single line from top left to bottom, then up.

Still, the bike took everything the paths could throw at it. I’ll buy the official route map and do it again after my tri.

Last pic; lost again.

20190718_130810 (2)

Happy days!

Later,

Buck.

Unrealistic Expectations.

I’ve known for ages that I have unrealistic expectations. Whenever I come back from an injury I expect to be out of the blocks as fast and as fit as I was before. Usually injuring myself again in the process.

Today an idle reply to someone saying I was too hard on myself crystallised my position.

“I always have unrealistic expectations, then am miffed if I don’t achieve them first go. If I do achieve them I think I should have done it faster.”

Whaddayagonnado?

 

That’s not the point though, the point is I’ve changed my unrealistic expectations. I wanted to do a sub hour marathon and a sub 10 hour triathlon. Wendy has been going on about how mad I am to keep punishing myself in a sport I don’t enjoy. (I hate the swimming and the cycling really bores me. I like the running.)

My only reply is that it’s a big challenge. As she rightly points out, there are plenty of running challenges.

After mulling it over for a few days I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ve got the Outlaw triathlon in 24 days, after that I’m going to take a year off triathlon and concentrate on achieving my running goals. Which I will actually enjoy. So I’ve lined up a bunch of races. The Warrington half marathon (on my doorstep, rude not to) in September, the Chester marathon in October and the Manchester marathon in April. I’ve put in a holiday form, if I get it I’ll be doing the Crewe 20 mile run in September as well.

And…

*drum roll*

The Leeds Endure24 (24 hour running race) in July next year!

As soon as I get my tri done I’m going to get stuck into a running plan to get me up to speed for a sub 3 in Manchester, and I’m going to be building lots of miles for the 24.

Apparently about 15- 20 runners each year get the yellow ‘100 miles’ T-shirt. Guess what I’m expecting to do?

I can run 26 miles now, and for Ultra marathons (technically anything beyond 26.2 miles –a marathon- distance) there is a lot of walking/ running. It’s building up the stamina. I did the Ladybower 50 mile ultra in 2014, I’d only trained up to 40 miles so it hit me really hard after 40 miles in the race. I ended up walking most of the last 8 miles. I did it in 10.06. That was without the proper training. Also I’d been training run X minutes, walk Y. When I got there no-one was walking. So I ran it all until I couldn’t run any more. Always follow your training. My point is, 100 miles is do-able.  But I’m going to have to train right up to that distance.

The thing is, it’s a timed endurance race, there is no set distance, it’s as many 5 mile laps as you can finish in 24 hours. There’s only me putting an arbitrary distance on it.

That’s where I am. Somewhere between terror and excitement.

I don’t want to mess up my sub 3 chances with the 24 training, but if I can juggle both, that will tick a lot of my ambitions. Sub 30, ultra, 100 miler, 24 hour.

The speed and stamina will be transferable to tri when I’m done.

If you’re going to have a challenge, make it an awesome one!

 

In other news, Wendy’s insurance over doubled with her provider if she wanted to renew. We got it elsewhere. Today I got a text off the bank saying you’re overdrawn, we’re ripping you off. WHAT!? Went on to the bank website, we paid the £800 for Wendy’s new insurance a week or so ago, her old provider have taken out £1600 to renew. Without asking. Super. Wendy was on the ‘phone to the them twice tonight, both times they claimed they would send an email for her to sign to to confirm she was cancelling the policy. Both times they didn’t. They said it’s going to be 5- 10 working days until they repay it. Super. It wasn’t a direct debit, they just had my card details from when I paid for it last time, took it out without asking.

They said to Wendy that she should tell them about bank charges, but it’s not the point.

Apart from that irritation, all is well.

Later,

Buck.

T-35

Eek! 35 days until the Outlaw triathlon!

My training hasn’t really recovered from that 6 weeks of lurgy.

I’m back up to marathon distance with my runs, I’ve done a few decent rides of 60 – 70 miles but no 100 milers, and my swim is still rubbish, done about 1½ miles.

On the positives, for years I’ve been trying to find a quiet route cycling route. If you want to ride 50 miles in any direction you are going to be on main roads at some point. A while ago it occurred to me that all around Warrington are quiet country lanes. I spent a two days sorting out a loop last week, then found an app where I could plot it out and save it (as something called a GPX file) then I had to find out how to transfer the GPX to my bike PC. I took it for a test ride, the bike PC acting like a satnav on my course, and apart from one busy crossing (which I later realised I can eliminate by doing the loop in reverse) it worked like a charm. 34 miles, mostly really quiet roads, with a few hills. I did two laps, (the second by memory) it’s akin to the Outlaw course. Mostly flat, wind to contend with, a few hills that obviously get repeated.

Screenshot_2019-06-21 Sports route planner UK Runners, walkers, cyclists - map your routes

That is the best training thing in ages. You really don’t want to get on your bike when you know you’ve got to ride around town centre or motorway roundabouts.

 

The other positive is my running.

A few times lately I’ve said “I think I’ll beat my Personal Best (PB) at X distance” and have.

Looking at it, I’ve battered my PB in every category, since May.

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Garmin Connect

Also, which it doesn’t record as a run distance, I beat my 10 miles PB on the tenth of June. 

I was recommending my running pack to two women on Twitter who wanted to run into work carrying clothes and makeup, they said their bags were killing them. I was used to pack running in the army before I got mine. Everything bouncing up and down and rubbing. By the end you’re all bruised with loads of friction burns. I got my pack for a 50 mile (ultra) I was running. It was a revelation. It just works. No pain, no bouncing, no webbing burns. Anyway, I recommended it, then got a bit nervous. Was it as good as I remembered?

I ran to work and and back (18 miles) to time myself then did a pack run on my last day at work. Carrying a full uniform, a change of running gear (for coming home) a flask, rations and ‘phone. My first pack run in years and years, and my first ever double run day. I liked it. Good training. I’ll be doing that again. And the pack worked a treat.

 

I still suck at swimming.

 

I’m looking to get through this year’s Outlaw, eat my humble pie, then I’m concentrating on getting my sub 3 hour speed for next April’s Manchester marathon. I’m also going to apply for a place in the Berlin marathon for next year. I’ve bought a book, Advanced Marathoning”, that walks you through the science, explains why you have to do what they tell you to do, then sets out a training plan. Apparently it’s gold.

 

In other news, I’ve been suffering with big energy crashes and just feeling weak after work so I’ve changed my diet to wholegrain bread, muesli, eggs, and such (instead of jam on white toast with loads of butter for breakfast and dinner) to try and develop slow release, steady energy instead of spikes and crashes.

The other great news is work have let me swop to a rotating 4 days shift pattern. I have the option to work my days off to make up my hours, but if they batter me with long shifts and I can’t train, I can take 4 days off at a time! At my works, overtime, at time and a half, is paid after 45 hours and your sixth shift is time and three quarters. So rather than working 5 days a week, I can make more money working 4 days one week, then 6 days the next. Then have 4 days off. I’ll have to see how it goes but it sounds perfect.

I’ve just swapped, I finished my last last shift on Thursday, start my new rota on Wednesday, 5 days off!

That’s not going to happen again, so I’ve taken all 5 off to train. So Thursday I did my pack run commute, Friday I did the dentist, then slacked off, Saturday I did a 68 mile test of my cycle route, today, Sunday, I set a new PB for a half marathon. Monday, Tuesday, while everyone’s at work and school, I’ll catch up on my swimming (and riding and running.

In a bit of live action blogging, just had a bad turn. I’m sat here with the window open, typing this. I heard a bunch of kids outside, not doing anything, just being loud and excitable, (it’s 22.37hrs) and I started panicking. In a few seconds it had snowballed in my head to gangs of kids running riot every night, trashing stuff and making life a misery. My stomach started knotting and I felt like I was losing it again.

I turned out the light and poked my head out of the window, it’s a bunch of Asian kids playing cricket in someone’s garden. Aaaaaaannnddddd, relax. 

I’d forgotten all about that flavour of loony. The mind is a strange and fragile thing. Wendy and I are often forced to reflect on the truth of the cliché that if you’ve not got your health (physical or mental) you’ve got nothing. 

None of the above training would be worth a carrot if I was to go loony again. And life would be a misery.

One of the white neighbours has just shouted to ask them to keep the noise down, the kids apologised and are being quite. Bless ‘em.

Right, I’m off to bed.

Later,

Buck.

PS I’ve forced myself back to the swimming. On Monday I did a 2.2 mile swim in 1 hour 40. Terrible time, but the race cut off is 2.4 miles in 2 hours, so at least now I know I shouldn’t fail on the swim.

Today I tried for a half triathlon but it all went a bit pear shaped. Wanted a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run. I left it too late for the swimming, only had 40 minutes in the pool, did a mile. It was cool and raining for the ride, but I was thinking like a runner, that it would be too hot for a waterproof, so I set off in the drizzle in just a thin, long sleeved top over my tri suit. By the time I’d done the first lap of 36.74 miles I was soaked, cold and miserable, so I sacked it off. I did the run at least.

It was good training, no matter what.

Wendy’s trying to get me to drop triathlon and concentrate on getting a fast marathon. She know how much I hate swimming and how much cycling bores me. But if I was good at it, perhaps I wouldn’t. There was a spell on that big swim where I actually found a rhythm, got my stroke right, and was gliding along. I was still slow, but I wasn’t fighting the water.

Hmmm.

Training Break

I saw a picture a while back, under “Britain’s Best Cycling Routes”, somewhere up in the wilds of Scotland.

Stitched Panorama

It’s supposed to be the UK’s toughest ascent, and just look at the roads! Empty, sweeping, awesome.

Sadly it’s in the middle of nowhere, the holiday accommodation I could find was either fully booked or rich people only, and when I asked a native it seems the pictures are totally misleading, it’s famous and a mecca for caravans and such. Imagine wobbling up a couple of miles of leg burning ascent while caravans and mobile homes are trying to pass you and each other! 

Anyway, nowhere to stay, so no. But the seed had been planted. Top of Scotland, hills, great roads, sparsely populated, little traffic.

I tried a bunch of places but they were all booked, finally got a caravan in Nairn. Great. Booked it.

Where’s Nairn?

Oh.

6½ hours drive away. Way, way, up in the Highlands.

That was our last stay in a caravan. We got up there and it was sunny and warm, as you could hope in June, then it started raining and turned cold.

It turns out we’ve been to that neck of the woods twice previously, so we’d already seen the tourist sites.

I feel bad for Wendy. She says it was alright, but the only thing for her to do there was walk and eat. And huddle by the fire.

I had a good training session. Killer hills, gorgeous, empty, back roads, great running and cycling.

Poor Wendy, though.

Next holiday is somewhere that’s got holiday stuff to do. And has brick walls and double glazing.

Here’s a few snaps.

20190602_152917

20190607_110058 (2)

20190602_10361520190607_093358

And look at this, Microsoft have finally dumbed their photo editing thing down enough that I can use it!

Pole ruining snap, then gone!

20190607_093508

Untitled

Voodoo, I tell you! Still not the best of pics, but the tech impresses me greatly.

 

And here’s a video of Wendy down on the farm. 4 hours in Scotland and she went native.

https://youtu.be/zzX-tDZfRvQ

The video of her ploughing fields in her high heeled, slingback wellies didn’t load.

That’s about it.

Great training, rubbish holiday for Wendy. *sad face*

Next time.

Later,

Buck.

PS, Wendy started feeling ill on Friday afternoon, said she was going to pack her kit for the morning drive home in case she didn’t feel good enough later. If we were doing nothing, why waste all of Saturday driving back? We had the idea at 16.30, 17.02 we were packed, caravan cleaned, car loaded, bike stripped and bagged, and out of there.  And it lashed it down all the way home. Started to aquaplane twice, bit of focusing trip back. (Should mention that Wendy started to feel OK again as soon as we hit the road.) Which meant today I was free to pick up my bike panel from the spray painter, cut the hole in it and fit it, with crash bungs. My bike looks groovy again.

20190505_074632

20190608_175928

All the bottom red panel had snapped off below and in front of the crash bung. so all that black sideways V and the grey fins were missing. The panel I sourced was purple, so he’s done a good job of matching the colour.

There is no Tri?

do-yoda

Just reviewing. I did a blog on the 4th of May, saying I was finally clear of that evil bug. I’d made several false starts at training, only to be too weak to continue.

Since then I’ve done a bunch of rides on the Sufferfest, but on the easier setting, to get my fitness back. I did a few fast runs then decided to run a marathon. I did it, but it was so, so bad. I actually quit several times. I thought, ‘Right, just get to the next mile marker and I’m turning around, I just can’t carry on.’ Then I carried on. It was a triumph of bloody mindedness and grit, but I just wasn’t ready for it.

As usual I’d been starting swimming. Tomorrow. OK, the next day. I hate swimming and I’m really bad at it so I have a huge aversion to overcome.

Then, at the beginning of last week, I looked up when a TV series was returning (Stranger Things). The 4th of July. I thought, ‘Great, that’s only a month away…., hang on, my triathlon is the end of July! AAAAAGGGHHH!’.

I’ve done about 4 or 5 swims since my last triathlon, no long rides, and even my run fitness took a battering from that 6 weeks of terminal man-flu. And I had 9 weeks to get to 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, 26.2 mile run.

PANIC!

Oh, and work have been stitching me up with long shifts again. Super.

So this week I’ve done 3 swims, 2 Sufferfest sessions and a few runs. I worked out a target-work-backwards plan. Then thrashed it. As usual. By the end of this week I was supposed to be up to 50 lengths of the pool. First swim I did 52 (in 40 minutes), second 62, third and hour, which I think was about 80 lengths or 1.2 miles. (I wiped the data before I had chance to confirm, but it was roughly that.)

Today I thought I’d see where I was by doing a half.

Being a Saturday there was no lane swim or adults only, so I had to go to an open swim session. I got half an hour’s swim, 42 lengths (2/3rds of a mile) before all the parents and toddlers piled in and I had to quit. Then I did a hilly 62 miles on my bike. 3,156 feet of elevation. Some of them were killer steep, I did 43mph in an aero tuck down one hill (then had to slog back up). I need to do that run again and again. The hills killed me. I had nothing.

I wobbled back in the pitiful time of 3 hours 47.

Then I went out for the run. 13.1 miles. The first two miles I was quite happy. 8 minute miles, not too painful. Then it hit me hard. I was desperate to quit. I slowed the pace and ground it out. It was miserable. I was looking back at the period on the bike where I had nothing as golden pinnacle of joy.

I did it in 1.57.

The point is, the swim was barely getting wet before I had to quit, and the the other two times you can’t just double for my tri time (which would be bad enough) I had nothing. I couldn’t have kept up that pitiful pace for the second half. It took everything I had to finish the half marathon without quitting. I was in a world of misery. I think I’d have been walking if I thought I had to do another 13 miles.

So that’s where I am. With 8 weeks to go.

Trying to draw positives from a nightmare-ish world of pain and fail:

I’ve set the bar today. OK, it was at ground level, but now I know where I am.

I’ve started swimming. The last three triathlons I was going once or twice a week. From what I’ve read consistency is the key, so I’ve worked out late (8pm- 10pm) swim sessions for 5 nights a week. If I concentrate on form doing shorter sessions 40 minutes to an hour, and do one long session a week, I should crack that. Maybe improve my time.

I totally need to work on hills on the bike. I think a lot of it was down to trying to do huge hills while still in an aero tuck, sat down. Sit up, pull on the bars, stand up!

The run should be my strength. I’ll just have to concentrate on putting in some miles.

In other triathlon news, I treated myself to an all singing, all dancing, Garmin 735xt, triathlon watch. Counts your lengths in the pool, GPS for outdoor swimming, monitors your bike sensor to tell you power, speed distance, heart rate, etc, and the same on the run. And it has a 15 or so hour (with GPS on, which really drains batteries) battery life. More than enough for my tri. Last year I bought a Timex Ironman watch. Iron distance tri-s have a cut off of 16 hours. The battery died half way through my run. 

I got it as an early present for my birthday, two weeks ago. I took it for two swim sessions, I didn’t even use the swim features, it was just sitting on my wrist as a watch, after the second session it started buzzing, then turning itself off. By the next day it was dead.

I’ve returned it for a swap, but if it happens again I’m getting a refund.

Total downer, it’s an great watch.

Right, I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of today.

Later,

Buck.

Change and about.

It’s been a strange time.

Work are introducing spy cameras into the trucks, against the express wish of every driver there. I got into a principled huff and have been looking for other jobs. I applied online to Royal Mail, Chorley, but didn’t make it past their online personality test thing. Then I saw two other jobs that looked OK. I applied for them, and got invitations to go further, but then I found reviews. It’s not just Amazon that do online reviews anymore. These were from actual drivers, past and present. The first job is a total lie, with terrible kit and long hours, being treated like dirt. The second, which looked on the advert to be local drops, loading and unloading your own trailer, good money, and most importantly only 8 hour shifts, was nothing of the sort. Long, long shifts, bullying culture, treated like crap, admittedly the money is still good.

I was getting a bit low but I think I’m bouncing back. It’s not that my job is ideal, but it’s still SO much better than the alternatives. I’ll keep my eyes open, if Royal Mail, Warrington, advertise I’ll be all over that, but I’m not leaving my job for a worse one. I mentioned that I was looking for other work to a trainer at work today. Because of the spy cameras, but also because I never know when I’m going home. He had a good suggestion. Ask to be trained as a shunter. They are the drivers who stay in the yard all day, moving trailers around. A tedious job but one with fixed hours. I could be on the good money I am on now and know when I was going home. And it would remove the other, otherwise unavoidable, irritant in my job; traffic.

It’s certainly worth an ask.

 

Another downer is my bike. I bought the red one because it did everything the black on did and had great bodywork so looked fantastic. I got to work a few days ago and noticed half of a fairing panel was missing. It’s completely inexplicable. If it had been a full panel I would have thought it had fallen off or been nicked, but half was left behind as though it had snapped off. but there were five bolts holding the snapped off bit in place. I haven’t crashed it or dropped it, there is no plastic debris at ours, so not kids vandalising it. It makes no sense. Gutted though.

20190505_074632

I spent hours searching for a replacement fairing panel. It’s a 24 year old bike, and apparently left hand side ones are most sought after from people getting it wrong with the sidestand and dropping it. Found one, tried to buy it but eBay said there was an error, so I went back and tried again but it had sold. I found another panel and bought that. Then eBay sent me an invoice for the first one. It was a glitch, it had sold to me. Super. Still, I couldn’t get either panel in red, so one will do while I get the nicer one sprayed.

 

In training news I’m pretty sure the wellness has taken this time. I’ve had about 3 false starts since the lurgy where I thought I was all well, did a bit of really tough, very poor, training, only to be weak and useless a few days later.

I did two workouts on the bike, the first followed by and 18 mile run, then tonight managed my first attempt at a fast run session in about 6 weeks.

I’ve had sports watch envy for a while. I got the Timex Ironman watch last year, when you turn the GPS on it drains the battery, the same with every watch, but the so-called Ironman watch died completely half way through my marathon at the end of my tri last year. The cut off point for Iron distance tri-s is 16 hours, I finished in 13.17, and the battery was dead long before that. Not a lot of use then. Since then I’ve been using my old, brick-sized Garmin watch for runs and the Timex as normal watch.

Wendy was asking me what I wanted for my birthday, so I’ve upgraded and got myself a Garmin triathlon watch. The battery is supposed to be good for 15 hours plus with GPS on and other data devices streaming to it.

20190509_190225 (2)

It arrived today so I forced myself to go for a run to try it out.

You can set it with 4 data metrics on display or one big one per page. That is ideal for me. I need readers now, so 4 little readouts are no good to me unless I want to run in glasses. The one big display is clearly legible.

My old Garmin took a few minutes to find the satellites, so if I’d been on the bike I was cooling off waiting to start running. The Timex sometimes couldn’t find the satellites at all.  My funky new watch I pressed the run button, it instantly connected! Ace.

I monitors your heart rate on your wrist to an acceptable degree, but comes with a chest strap heart rate monitor for exact results.  So far this afternoon/ evening, my lowest resting heart rate has been 47bpm. I’ll be interested to see what I score overnight!

The grooviest thing though, is when I uploaded the run data. SO MANY METRICS! ALL THE STATS!

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running(1)

Usual stuff, route, elevation, pace.

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running(2)

 

Heart rate. But then, Stride Length, Run Cadence, Vertical Ratio, Ground Contact Time Balance…

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running

It goes on. Steps Per Minute, Heart Rate As Percent Of Max,  Average Vertical Oscillation…

I don’t even know what half of this is, or how I could possibly improve it, but it’s FUN!

As someone said on one of the reviews I was obsessively reading whilst trying to decide which model was best for me, “Why do we need all these stats and data? Because it’s like catnip to a triathlete.”

Or words to that effect.

I almost forgot in the new watch excitement, after struggling for a few weeks to stay under 8.30 m/m I did that short run tonight, but decided to try and be quick. I managed two miles under 7 m/m! That’s more like it!  At someone’s suggestion on Twitter, I’ve bought a highly recommended book that people rate to get you under the 3 hour marathon. I’ll start on that tomorrow.

 

Right, just a quick catch up.

Later,

Buck.

Finally!

I don’t want to speak too soon, I’ve made several false starts recently, but I think I’m finally free of that bug.

It’s taken forever. For the last 3 weeks I’ve thought I was over it, gone out for a few training sessions, then felt as weak as a Southerners cup of tea.

It’s been dire. Also, there’s the knock on effect of losing your mojo. While you are training and pushing yourself you are determined to be better the next time. After you’ve spent a while being lazy you know how bad it’s going to be getting going again and you start avoiding it.

After my last blog, lamenting how utterly terrible everything was, I’m back to optimistic today.

I’ve had to switch off the 4DP setting on the Sufferfest (cycling training app thing) that is tailored to my exact strengths and weaknesses (well, weaknesses and slightly less weakness) until I can get my fitness back.

It’s still set to my maximum sustainable effort, so it beasts me, just not quite as much.  Last week when I was feeling OK I did the longest session on there,1 hour 40 minutes of mixed sets. It was too much really, my knee felt like a balloon afterwards.

Today I was cunning and just did a nice easy 45 minute session. Warm up, 1 minute hard, 1 minute rest. I can do this! Then again. By the third time I was thinking I was going to have to quit. But Sufferfest are sly. They give you just enough time to recover so you think ‘OK, I’ll just do one more’ and keep going. 11 of them. Half way through they said “This is one of the most intense workouts you can do, treat it as such”.

Nice, easy, 45 minutes my fat, lazy arse!

Then after the 11 sessions it got hard.

15 seconds of high revs, high power, sprint. Then 15 second rest. Times 20. It doesn’t sound much, but there is no time to recover. Again, they are cunning, you can just about stop gasping then the next 15 seconds starts and you think ‘Anyone can do 15 seconds!’ so you push it out, even though you are still dying.

My admiration for the trainers at Sufferfest is total. They are evil,sadistic geniuses. The clue is in the name, I suppose. Their genius is in torturing you to the exact level where you push at your absolute maximum, but can finish without quitting. It really is where the Iron Crosses grow.

So I slogged through that. And it was terrible. But I did it.

Then I went out for a run. The last few weeks that has been slow and painful and maximum effort just to keep going. Today the first 4 miles were a joy. I just set my legs to running, and they kept it up, at a modest pace, with metronomic ease. That was a double joy as after the sufferfest being so hard I thought my legs would be shot. By about 9 miles my calves started really cramping. I think that’s going so hard on the bike after a bit of a lay off. I kept it going and managed 18 miles. Not too shabby for a tester, recovery run.

My calves are still aching and set, but I’m back in the game!

 

In other news, I’ve started looking for another job. Work is getting me down. They’re introducing spy cameras into the cabs, that are active even when you are on your break. It’s not so much the cameras as the principle. They know the drivers don’t want them, we voted for strike action rather have them, and they just don’t care. The thing that really gets me down about my job though is never knowing when I’m going to be coming home. I just assumed that was the case for all lorry driver jobs. Then I saw the Royal Mail were advertising. I thought they only took on through the agency. Loads more money, and short shifts. But nights. Then I saw Aldi were recruiting. Nights, sadly, but 8 hour shifts, doing local runs to the stores then unloading yourself. They say you only spend 40% of your time driving. Most drivers are fat and lazy and would hate that. I reckon that would suit me. Even on nights. If you’re doing locals it’s less time on closed motorways, you’re not falling asleep driving long distances, and you have a fair idea of your finish time. That all sounds good. Also it’s only a 40 hour week and it’s more money per hour. If I can get in, get my feet under the table, then look to transfer to days if any jobs come up, it would be perfect. I’ve applied, got through the first sift, and have an interview in a couple of weeks. See how it goes.

 

I’ve sold my black VFR750, only got my new (24 year old!) red VFR750 now. One bike.

Like. A. Caveman.

 

I’ve started a running/ triathlon/ cycling/  motorbikes account on Twitter. My old account has become enmired in politics. All the fun, whimsy and interesting stuff has been drowned in polemic vitriol. My new account has left me with watch envy though. I bought the Timex Ironman watch for my Iron distance tri last year. My Garmin GPS watch was good but old and only really good for a marathon or so before the battery died. Anyway, you buy a watch that’s specifically branded ‘Ironman’, you expect it to do the business. I started it at the start of the race (naturally) fully charged, and it died half way through the marathon at the end. My overall time was 13.35 or something, the cut off time for the race is 16 hours. An Ironman watch that won’t do Iron distance. Super. All the runners and tri people on Twitter have been showing off their swanky watches. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks and Wendy was asking me what I want, so I’ve bought an upgrade Garmin! Yay! Supposed to be good for 15 hours or so with the GPS on. More than enough time for me. And it finds satellites in no time. My old Garmin, bless it’s long service heart, leaves me standing around for 5 minutes, cooling down and setting from the bike, before I can start my run.

So that’s where I am.

If I don’t feel weak and I can get back to training I still hope to achieve my goal for this year, which is an hour off last year’s tri. I have 3 months to make it so.

I so hope that’s it. That I’m back to normal now.

Right, bed time.

Later.

Buck.

Excuses, not results.

After my upbeat last post, it all went horribly wrong again.

I started feeling weak again. I did some runs but I couldn’t maintain any sort of pace and it was so, so hard just to keep going. I endured it for a week, I did 3 runs, then decided I’d had enough. I wondered if it might be the anti-inflammatory pills the doctor gave me, so I stopped taking them. 2 days later my foot was hurting from the inflamed tendons again, so I knew the pills had rinsed out of my system. I tried to do the Sufferfest.

As I’ve said, I had just really raised the bar, so all my workouts were a lot harder and they’d moved me on to endurance blocks because that’s my most glaring weakness. Then I was ghastly ill for 3 weeks and lost all my fitness.

Before I was ill I was doing sprint workouts, which actually played to my ‘strength’ (such as it is). My sustainable limit is about 200 Watts. The sprint workouts would have you me riding for 20 seconds to 2 minutes at anything up to 320W, then easy for 30 seconds or whatever, then the next big one.

I aced that on the fitness test just before I got ill, with them saying I have “exceptional” sprint to [utterly pitiful]sustainable level power.

Rather than kill myself as I’m trying to make up for a lost month’s training, I decided to do the sprint workout again, rather than the endurance blocks.

Ha! Sufferfest were on to me.

I started the routine with a graded warm up, then in to the sprints, “hold 679W for 30 seconds”

What?! Seriously, WHAT?!

I didn’t have my glasses on so thought I must have misread it, my power being around 200W and all, but no, 679W.

It looks like I’m going to have to build my fitness up on the other training thing, where it’s not tailored to you specifically, before I can start back properly.

The long and short of it being I had to quit, wearing my lungs as scarf, halfway through the workout. I just couldn’t. To try and redeem myself a little I went out for a run. I was only going to do 6 miles, but after the first mile, on traumatised legs, at 8.20 I realised I had loads more in the tank, so I put it under 8 m/m and held it there, comfortably. (It’s a relative term. I mean I wasn’t having to claw back every mile from 8.30 or whatever, I just kept going and stayed under 8.) I was impressing myself after the last bunch of runs not even being able to stay at 8, so kept going for 5 miles, then turned around and smashed the negative split.

10 miles, on thrashed legs, after an 8.20 first mile, and I averaged 7.41. I’ll well take that.

I was buzzing. I thought I was all well again and not too far behind on my training.

Sigh.

The next day I was weak again, then sneezing and nose streaming, eyes running. It’s just not fair. I think it was some sort of hay fever, Mr Google said there was “pollen bomb” as we went from nippy 5C to a four day weekend of 25C. I took some anti-histamines and I dried up within hours. That’s odd, I used to get an itchy nose and sneezy, but I don’t remember ever having full-on hay fever.

Today I’m just suffering from tiredness, (not much sleep, then up at 04.20 for a course), fatness and laziness.

That’s the thing, the more training you do the more you want to do, the less you do the harder it becomes to motivate yourself to start.

Tomorrow is my day off. I am writing all this down now to try and vanquish this incredible run (over a month) of being poorly ill, and refocus my chi. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, and, so far, I’m not feeling ill.

 

In other news, I’ve put my black VFR750 motorbike up for sale and got a bid on it, so hopefully that’s sold. Which will leave me with just one motorbike.

Like. A. Caveman.

Tomorrow it all gets real.

Crack on.

Buck.

All Coming Up Roses.

My last blog was all poorliness and bikes.

I hit my nadir on Sunday morning when I had to admit defeat and not do the Manchester marathon. I hadn’t done any training at all for 3 weeks and I was still feeling weak. It started to clear on Sunday afternoon. Obviously.

I went for a test run and managed to do 10 miles at a modest but forced pace. Even though I was still a bit ill, and it was so, so hard, it was a joy to be out doing a bit. I’d been going stir crazy doing nothing for 3 weeks.

I got back on the pushbike torture training thing (The Sufferfest) the next day and didn’t die.

So, I’m back in the game. Yay!

 

I took my bike to the garage as I said. I trust the mechanic as he’s always got too much work on so he doesn’t make up jobs to boost his money. A few times he’s told me what to do and sent me away to do it myself. Anyway, he took the bike for a test ride and said the engine was “sweet” and agreed it was a steal for the price. I got him to do the full service, down to the valve clearances. On another bike I’d probably have a go, but these have gear driven cams, so you have to get a series of cogs all meshed exactly right. Put one back slightly out of position and you’ve got a dead bike.

Actually, I may have been fed a scare story, looking at it, I reckon that’s do-able.

1986-Honda-VFR750F-Engine

I might get a cheap engine and have a mooch.

While I was looking for an example picture I came across a gear driven Ducati. That is art.

Duke

Would not want to drop a cog and have to reset that!

That’s all beside the point. I took it to the mechanic and got a proper job done.

I picked it up today. He’s sorted out the front brake, changed the brake and clutch fluids, replaced 4 valve shims and done the valve clearances, apart from annual changing of oil and such, that’s me for 15,000 miles.

On the ride home from buying it I was worried that my other bike was quicker to rev up and sprint off than this new one. On the ride home from the garage I nipped past some slow cars and hit the power band. Off like a scalded cat! That was a hoot.

I’ve been waiting all week for some crash bungs to arrive so the mechanic could fit them.

(These are crash bungs, by the way. Just to protect your fairings and engine from getting smashed to bits when you come off.) (Just rereading this before posting it. Other people might say “if” you come off, lol.)

IMG_20170711_181837_LI

It’s not a big job, take your fairing off, mark them, drill a big hole in them, put them back and fit your crash bungs. It’s just I didn’t want to ruin my lovely fairings by getting it wrong. The whole point of this new bike is that it does everything the other one does, but looks pretty at the same time.

I picked my bike up this morning and, as usual,  the crash bungs arrived at dinner time. Typical. I decided to have a go. It was a nerve-racking affair but I’ve done it! The bungs are fitted and their is no visible damage to my fairings! Huzzah!

Also today I was telling the mechanic about my plans to pull the wheels off, strip them right down, then get them powder coated (an alternative to painting where some voodoo stuff is sprayed on then baked into tough loveliness) he said they weren’t that bad and suggested a touch up pot of paint to blend the chips into the same colour as the rest of the wheel. OK. £6 and an hour or so of messing about has got to be worth a shot. If I’m still not happy the first step of powder coating is blasting all the old paint off, so I’ve only lost £6.

I’ll see what it looks like tomorrow, when it’s properly dried.

Well, that’s it. We are both recovering. I did 4 days training on the trot (been busy with my bikes today) and my new bike is peach. Happy days!

20190412_123730 (2)

Now that is a picture!

VFR750s are like shoes. A boy can never have too many. (Try telling that to Wendy!)

20190412_123719 (2)

(Red ones are faster. Scientific fact.)

20190412_123751 (2)

Right. I’m off to bed. Redeem myself with a marathon in the morning. Give it a go, at least.

Later,

Buck.

Bikes and poorliness.

That’s about all that’s going on right now.

Luke was dying with a beastly cold that laid him up for weeks. He was bored of being ill at home so came around and gave it to Wendy and me. Which is nice.

Wendy’s been off work for nearly two weeks with it. She’s gone back now but she’s still as rough as rats.

I’ve not been so bad, just weak and feeling lousy. I did a 20 mile run 18 days ago, not done a hand’s turn of training since. I’ve got the Manchester marathon on Sunday. I’m doubtful I’ll even be starting.

 

The rest has all been about the bikes.

I put my FireBlade up for sale on eBay.

20180803_111538 (2)

*sigh*

It’s the most amazing bike I’ve ever ridden, but it’s just too, too much. 90mph in second gear (of 6.)

You spend all your time struggling to stay out of automatic ban territory (100mph+), it takes all the fun out of it. In an amazing turn of events, I put the bike up for sale, 2 hours later it had sold! No hassle, no insulting offers! Unheard of.

Also I’ve sold my saxes as part of my triathlon training. Cut out all distractions from your focus on your goal. While they were there I was always tempted to go back and waste more time on something I’m never going to be able to do.

I’ve finally got on top of the crash damage on my winter bike. I had to strip and clean the carbs in my latest ordeal. But now it seems to be running OK, finally.

20190222_12355820190321_105114

Nothing but trouble, but I’ve got it sorted. Now I want shut.

I was on the verge of buying an Suzuki SV650, a slow (123mph) naked (to slow me down some more) and cheap V twin, that also handles well and is great fun. So, a Harley.  But better in every way. And way cheaper.

Sv650

As I say I was on the verge of getting a really low mileage one for under £2K when I read a long term review of them. It seems they are all I thought, but built to a budget. The reason it’s all so shiny and pretty is because it’s not been ridden in winter. They are rustbuckets in waiting.

No good for me. I want one bike, that’ll do everything, that I can ride all year.

So I’ve bought another VFR750. Exactly the same as my winter bike, but not rusty and horrible.

 

s-l400-2

s-l400-3

It’s in the bike shop now having a once over to see that the engine is fine. If so I’m getting it a total service (big job, setting the valve clearances and shims, but once it’s done it’s good for 15,000 miles.)

Then I’m getting the paint on the wheels re-done and redoing the forks myself. Then maybe a respray. That’s it then. One bike, all shiny and lovely, one set of bills, all year round useable and I have to work at it a bit to get banned. I can use my winter bike while I get all that sorted, then sell it. It’s just passed it’s MOT, so it’s saleable.

Sorry to drone on about bikes, but that’s all I can do or get excited about at the moment.

I’m just waiting for this beastliness to be over so I can get back to training.

Oh, nearly forgot. I went to the doctor over my shoulder. It’s still sore if I lie on it or rotate it. Not terrible, but the other one doesn’t hurt, so there’s something not right. It’s been months since the crash.

The doctor did some tests on me, said nothing was broken, then sent me for an ultra sound. The woman doing it said there was no damage. I thought it was just like my mam said, it takes longer to heal when you’re older. I went back to the doctors for the test results, feeling like a fraud, but he poked me in the shoulder, asking if it hurt. Yes, YES! It seems something (a sack, I think he said) is inflamed and rubbing a nerve or something. He’s put me on anti-inflammatory pills and put me down for a steroid injection. That’s service, for a bit of a sore shoulder. 

Right, I’m off to feel sorry for myself.

Later,

Buck.