Archive for March, 2011

Buck the truck?

Woo-hoo! Finally a development!

Obviously not with my works, who are the biggest bunch of knobs in the history of ever.

Our Robyn (my niece) said to apply to Jack Richards (hauliers) for some weekend work last year. At the time she was dating the son of one of the transport managers, so believed he would look upon my application favourably.

Anyway, my works said I couldn’t work my weekends off for anyone else, I was still thinking I might get taken on as a driver with our works and I didn’t want to risk giving up a full time job for occasional casual weekends.

When my works finally came clean with me (that they were never going to let me drive for them) I immediately started applying for anything and everything. Robyn gave me the number of the chap again. I didn’t want to ring him cold and say “Give me a job, your lad’s ex said I could drive for you”, so I went online. They had no jobs advertised but there was a standard application form. I thought it would do no harm to fill it in anyway. I was honest on it, putting that I had my licenses but no experience.

That was a few weeks ago. Out of the blue last Friday I noticed I had a missed call and message on my ‘phone from Jack Richards!

I rang them back on my break at work and arranged an interview.

I went for it yesterday straight from work.

The chap was almost apologetic about the job, and kept saying things like “you go away and talk it over with your missus, if you want to go ahead call me back”, and such. 

The deal is; I drive with someone in the cab teaching me the job, for a week unpaid (which sounds frighteningly familiar!) then at the end of the week I go out for an assessment with the chap who conducted the interview. If I pass I get taken on,(with allowance made for my working my week’s notice) initially on three months probation.

This is the best offer I’ve had. As he suggested I’ve booked a week off work as holidays. He was saying to do it so I would have money at the end of the week but I think it is so I will still have a job to go back to if I fail the assessment.

Both reasons work for me.

The job I’ve said I would do (see under ‘anything, any hours, any contract’) is tramping. He said if I get taken on I would serve my probation without nights out while I got the hang of it, then after the three months move on to tramping. This would entail picking up my own truck (apparently the cabs are big enough to stand up in, so quite roomy!) setting off on say, the Monday, pick up, drop off until out of driving hours (9 or 10 hours a day, 90 over a fortnight, but much longer days as the waiting around and breaks don’t count towards your hours) then pull over and sleep in the bed in the back of the cab. Get up and repeat, possibly until Friday or Saturday when I return to the yard.

Not ideal, but as it’s the only offer I’ve got I’ll gladly take it.

Here’s a minute of advertising from Volvo on the latest model, shouldn’t be too different as the trucks in the fleet are all less than four years old.

Even in this idealised video it looks like I’m going to quickly go stir-crazy!

If I do get this job it raises serious questions about my ability to train for my Ironman. Are you allowed to leave your truck and bugger off for several hours running? How do you get cleaned up when you get back? (Assuming I don’t get lost and lose my truck!) 

 

The only other news is that I’ve been put back in de-kit at work. Permanent 6-2, one weekend off in four.  Ho hum.

Later,

Buck.

Distance riding.

I seized the moment today and set out to try to do a full length ride.

To set the scene; my previous longest ride was 56 miles, which I did twice. Both times nearly killed me. They say when you are comfortable with a distance increase it by no more than ten per cent. I laugh in the face of such scientifically proven training methods!

As it’s my weekend off (yay!), it was quite warm, sunny and not too windy I went for it. I looked for somewhere ‘there-and-back’ so I would have a definite goal (and no option but to persevere when I was knackered). Morecambe fit the bill. 56 miles, the requisite 112 round trip.

I had a few delays, not least of which was sleeping in until ten! On 2-10 shift I’ve been getting up at 6.20 to go swimming. I only managed to do it twice last week (for shame!) but it still knackered me, hence the lie in today.

I finished faffing about and got on the road at about 11.35. Loads of cereal bars, nut and raisins and energy gels stashed about my person.

To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I’d been expecting. I was planning on a 7½ hour ride, but by 3 hours 14 I still hadn’t hit my turn off the A6 (I’d missed it, it turns out. Not like me to get lost! *facepalm*) and my arse was in a world of pain. Also I was thinking of it getting dark by the time I got back (I didn’t have lights) so I turned around at the Lancaster university and set off back.

All was still going reasonably well (I had to put my coat on, a really cold wind was cutting through my cycling shirt) my arse/ shoulders/ small of back were killing, but my legs were still working. Those energy gels are great. I tried one in the kitchen at home when I first got them. A thick, snotty gel that is awful to try to swallow. I had to squeeze it into my mouth, get a mouthful of water and swallow it like a tablet. After 60 miles on a push bike it goes down like water! Gel, squeeze, gulp.

Anyway, my point about them was that I didn’t suffer from an energy crash, where you just flop. You haven’t the energy to stand up, let alone exercise. And then you have to somehow force yourself to carry on for however long it takes. I live in fear of that crash, and didn’t get it!

I did, however crash as in fall off my bike. Twice. Bloody cleats! Those fancy toe-clip things that lock your foot to the pedal. They are a bastard to get out of!

Also I got a puncture in Preston. I took my time to repair it, seeing as I’d failed in my target (and I thought my speed must have been crap to not have hit my turn off). Twenty minutes. I had to wrestle with the new tyre, then work out how to get the inner tube out, (the valve can’t be extracted from one side of the tyre, it’s too big. You have to take both sides of the tyre away from the rim to free it.) Then I ‘phoned Wendy to let her know what was happening while I gave the puncture repair plaster time to stick.

 

I finally made it back to Warrington. The first thing I did (after eating tuna and getting a brew) was check out my distance on Google maps. 102 miles round trip! I was level with Morecambe, but had missed the turning. Not too shabby. That was 6 hours 35 minutes (if you take off the puncture time).

Nearly there then on distance riding. I was nearly there on the marathon before I buggered my knee, and my swimming is getting better. I managed to put in an extra 13 lengths in the hour of swimming I get.

Now just to string it all together.

Holy crap!

Still, I’m not doing it because it’s easy but because it’s hard. A giant triathlon for mankind.

Now I’m going to go to bed and not stir. Tomorrow I might feel human again.

Later,

Buck.

Old things, new ways.

I’m back to plotting my gardening again, this time on an industrial scale. Jo has pointed out an allotment website. A good job too. The first thing I was planning on doing was rotorvating the whole plot. Apparently this is very bad. You chop up all the roots of the nasty bugger weeds and make a dozen of each. Less than great.

What one chap on the site advised was to spray the whole area with ‘Roundup’ (a weedkiller that kills the roots so it can’t grow back) wait up to 28 days for the plants to fully wither and die, then rotorvate.

Blank slate to start with then.

Monty Don was back on Gardeners World last night, a synchronicity that bodes well for my endeavour. I’ve rushed out today and got the weedkiller, also a set of first and second early potatoes and a bag each of red and white onions. They are tichy, but I’ve popped them in trays like Monty said, and hopefully they will have rooted and be ready to plant out in a month when I’ve rotorvated.

I’ve also ordered a bunch of seeds online (lettuce, blight resistant tomatoes, leeks, mange tout, cauliflower, broccoli, more onions – bugger, forgot I’d ordered them- cabbage, carrot, rocket, and two kinds of beans). With the seeds I have from last year that should be enough to be getting on with.

Plus I have 3 different blueberry bushes, 2 types of apple trees, 2 pear trees, a cherry tree, strawberries, a blackberry and a redberry already growing in the garden that could do with transplanting.

I might keep the cherry at the very least, depending on whether it puts on a good bloom this year. I bought the Warrington Guardian this week, to take advantage of all those people who say ‘shed, free, if you take it down and take it away’. Ha! Not one! Tight bastards. Still, I’m in no rush, cant even garden for a month.

Also when I produced my gym membership card (to get the discount for the allotment) it turns out they worded the letter wrong. If you are entitled to discounted gym membership (as you are on a qualifying benefit) then you are entitled to discount. ie, not me.

That’s one thing. Gardening, but large.

 

As work have screwed me over royally and nobody will give me a sniff at a driving job without experience, I’ve had to contact the army again.

I am set for a one day refresher on the 2nd of April and if I can get the time off work, the last part of my basic training will be from the 28th of May.

Ho-fecking-hum.

Get that done and dusted then it’s the trade training section (conversion to army driving) and I should be ready to play.

I’m thinking now that if I just get to my unit and put some hours driving in I will be able to blag the rest in civvy street.

“Of course I’ve done 180 days driving, I’ve been in the T.A. for 18 months, just ask them. If you contact my boss; HRH the Queen, I’m sure she’ll give you a sterling reference. Tell her Buck sent you, she owes me one from the first Gulf war.”

Maybe I’ll get back into it when I get to play soldiers again, but at the minute I’m not looking at a tour of duty. I’m too firmly entrenched in civvy mode. Constantly having someone on your back organizing every minute of your day just doesn’t appeal at the minute. OK, so there’s the fun of getting shot at and bombed, but still…

 

Some thing I have learned in the last week that have amused me are;

‘Backpfeifengeseicht’, a German word (pronounced Back-fife-an-gez- eekt) that translates as ‘face in need of a slap’. (Though some say ‘face in need of a fist! Either way, Germans are cool.)

There are no words to express the awesomeness of that! Someone posted it on Twitter as ‘Words we need in the English language’. I have committed it to memory.

Another I learnt off one of the lads at work; ‘koo-eh-re-vah bra-tah’ which is Polish for ‘fucking job!’

You can tell he works where I do!

 

Then there’s the training. My knee is still not right and my job doesn’t afford it much rest. I really don’t want to run and make it worse again until it’s fully recovered. I’ll just have to swim everyday and make sure I do lots of long rides to make up for it. Now I’ve had to add press-up and sit-ups to my daily exercise to get fit for the army. Plus I could do with putting in lots of tabbing (speed marching) with a heavy pack on. The last certainly won’t be happening until my knee is good again.

 

Never a minute, is there?

Later,

Buck.

Irony. I haz it.

Yes, I know that was an awful title. It’s in the style of those cutesy cat posters with the  allegedly heart-warmingly humorous slogans. 

Search under lolzcats or some such, I’m not going to defile my blog with an example.

 

Now that’s a classy opening; a wandering digression before I’ve even started a topic from which to stray. I’m tired, leave me alone!

To start again; wouldn’t you know it?

I am massively overcommitted. I am supposed to be running 6 days a week, cycling most days (commuting to work, plus ‘proper’ rides) and swimming as often as I can get to the pool. Also I’ve gone back to my sax practise after a month or so avoiding it. The longer I left it the harder it got to pick up. Finally got back to it, now I have to keep it up. With work as well it’s difficult to ring-fence a few hours for sleeping!

 

I was doing swimmingly with my running and had made up my fitness and endurance after the treadmill debacle. I ran a poor 20 miles, then three days later a better one, shortly after I ran a fair good one, but hurt my knee a bit. The next day I went out and did a quick (for me) 10 mile run just to keep my hand in. When I woke up the next morning my knee felt the size of a balloon. It wasn’t all that visibly swollen, but it felt it. It took me two weeks to get it well enough to go out for another run. I did an ‘easy’ 10 miles, and buggered it again!

I was getting worried as well as pissed off. I can’t afford to miss all this training time. I had a look on the Runners World website and apparently it’s ‘runners knee’. It’s where the knee bones aren’t travelling smoothly in their socket, so they grind the protective cartilage between the bones. Caused by over-pronation  (rolling the foot inwards whilst running, which I do and for which I have special trainers) not developing the inner thigh muscles (running develops the hamstrings and such which pull your leg out of shape, the thigh muscles hold it in place. Working on it.) and over training. The training programme said one big run, rest lots of little runs, not big run, rest big run.

So it’s ice pack, ibuprofen, rest and thigh exercises.

 

So that’s where I stand. Trying to do 5 hours of swimming when I’m on 2-10, about 6 hours running per week, 6 hours sax and about 20 hours riding. Plus 40 hours work.

So where’s the irony?

The council have finally offered me an allotment!

I’ve been on the waiting list for years. So long I’d kind of forgotten about it. Now, when I don’t have a spare minute where I shouldn’t be doing some training they finally offer it me.

New camera 010

As you can see, it need a bit of TLC.

It’s not a bad plot, 31 yards by 4. So it’s not too vast, but room enough to grow quite a bit. The allotment rules are no fences or livestock, so it’s all out in the open, no horrible shady bits. They have a rotorvator on site that you can use.

Also, because I have membership with Warrington Leisure, I get my rent and deposit at half price!

Ooh, also, that photo’ was taken with our new camera. Very pleased with it.

Here’s one of Wendy looking skinny;

New camera 006

and after this;

!cid_IMG0123A

A dye that worked;

New camera 002

An our orchid with its new flowers

New camera 008

Later,

Buck.

Road rage

I saw  a link to this on Twitter.

Obviously my first reaction was one of jaw-dropping disbelief. Then I read a bit about it.

It seems some chap was following for two blocks, repeatedly trying to get past the cyclists who ignored him. The cyclists were on some sort of protest/ demonstration about how their world view of a cyclist utopia was the only valid one.

There are further reports that the driver was trying to get a kid to a hospital, but that sounds too convenient and is only a side issue anyway.

The real issue is; was it wrong?

 

Oh sure, the law says the car driver was a bit over zealous, but think about it.

I have been dwelling on it overnight. I thought of the two cyclist tootling along side by side, holding me and other traffic up, not giving a fuck until I nearly clipped one and screamed “HOW MUCH ROOM DO YOU FUCKING WANT!”, at them. Then they learned some manners.

I thought of the coffin-dodger car drivers who fanny around at 25mph, and how I’d love to smash them off the road. Or the gaggle of women (usually women, though not exclusively) who stand in the middle of the isle at Asda and chat when you are trying to shop. And how you just wish you had an axe so you could cut a bloody swathe through their ignorance.

It’s about common courtesy and the barest hint of consideration for others. It’s just good manners.

My conclusion therefore, is that crazed car driver is just doing what everyone would like to do. The cyclists wanted direct action and by fuck they got it.

I think maybe he is some sort of modern hero. An example to which we can all  aspire.

 

You are probably thinking I wouldn’t be saying that if some car driving twat ran me over, and you would be right. Because I would not be sat in the middle of the road deliberately pissing people off, therefore would have done nothing to warrant it.

Feel free to disagree or start a ‘psycho car driver for emperor of the planet’ page on Facebook.

 

Later,

Buck.