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Lessons.

I’ve learnt some valuable lessons in the last week.

For a start, my plans are useless in the face of reality. I had planned to sell the Honda VFR750 and part-exchange my Triumph Sprint for a Triumph Street Triple (Striple) at a bike shop. I thought they’d be able to give me a good price for mine as they’d already inflated the price of the Striple. Ha! They offered me £1,700 for my bike. Not even.

So, change of plan, sell both bikes privately and buy a Striple.

I tarted them up, got them listed, thinking one would sell then, buy the Striple, sell the other.

Suddenly I had two people interested in the bikes. Typical, but I could always push-bike for a few days.

A guy came around to see my Triumph while I was at work. I left it chained to the house and left the key with Wendy so he could start it up and see there was nothing wrong with it.

Apparently he did. Then stopped it. Then started it again. After a few goes it wouldn’t start again. I  got home to a dead bike. I thought he’d drained the battery, my initial google said that it’s a big ol’ engine and it drains batteries. Fair enough, I ordered a new battery, while I put the current one on charge. The next day it still wouldn’t run. And it was making a horrible noise. Like something was rattling around in the engine.

I did a lot more google research and found the early 1050cc engines were known to have a flaw, this disc that only allows the starter motor assembly to spin one way. Called the sprag clutch. I found a video of a 1050 with sprag clutch issues and it was the exact sound. The guy who sold it to me knew the sprag was going and sold it on quick. I’d never even heard of a sprag clutch so he got me good.

I had to tell the guy who wanted it that it wasn’t for sale, then text the guy who wanted the Honda and tell him the same as I needed it for work.

I found a video on replacing the sprag clutch, which helpfully listed the parts you’d need and their numbers so I could order them off the Triumph site.

£385 for the parts.

£16 for a workshop manual.

£40 for a battery.

Oh yes, the pain keeps coming.

Today was my day off so I thought I’d strip the bike down. Then I got an email saying my battery and bits were arriving today. Bonus.

It was fiddly getting the fairing off, and a royal pain trying to prize the engine covers off without using any force, but the job itself was suspiciously straight forward.

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Stripped it down to there, and didn’t need to go any further.

As the guy on the video said, Triumph have never stated that the replacement is and upgrade, or recalled and refitted what they knew was a faulty part, but look at how beefed up the “not upgraded” part is:

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I should have taken a picture from the other side. There are roller bearings lining the sprag clutches. Presumably it’s for that you are paying the extortionate fee.

Anyway, I was ripped off by Triumph and the guy who sold me the bike, but we are where we are. The job had to be done. The good news is it all went back together and started first time.

This was me starting it up, very nervously:

https://youtu.be/LZl4dAXuH68

I turned it off and on a few times to test it, no horrible noise, all working fine.

Yay!

While I was freezing my arse off and filthy anyway, I had a look at the Honda as well. One of the pipes was cool on tickover. I’d stripped and cleaned, then changed, the slow jets about 3 times. Awful job, you have to strip loads off just to get at the carbs. Today I checked the plugs. Which made no sense, but I thought I’d rule it out. I put new spark plugs in, fired it up and the other pipe was cold. Huh? I screwed the HT leads more firmly into the the spark plug caps, and… Bob’s your uncle. Hot pipes. The amount of work I did on the carbs… Ah well. Working now.

So I’ve relisted the bikes tonight.

 

I have seen the bike I want. I was getting my head turned by the newer models with ABS. And the upgraded suspension and brakes of the R models. But you start adding thousands of pounds to the price. And the thing is these are naked bikes. The engine is going to take a battering from salt and grit over winter. They won’t stay pristine for long if you use them. And with my riding skills, am I really going to benefit from fancy pants suspension and sharper brakes?

I took a step back from licking the window of the latest and dearest Striples and looked for a “cheap” one I can still enjoy.

Look at this:

Striple 1

Striple

2009, 16K miles, I’ve been through all it’s MOTs online, it’s never failed one, and only had two advisories on one of them a few years ago. The current owner has had it for 3 years, doing 2K a year!  It’s had the valves done (a big and expensive job) and has an alarm fitted.

And the 675 Striples don’t have the sprag clutch issue.

The only downside is it’s not red. It’s already been proven that red ones are faster. Basic science.

It’s 173 miles away. Obviously. They are never local. It’s the law. And Wendy can’t drive me. Again.

I’m thinking of trading her in for a car with a tow hook and bike trailer.

If someone would just buy mine before this one sells it would be happy days.

 

In other, non obsessing-over-Triumphs news, I’ve taken a week off running to try and rest the tendons on the top of my foot. They are a lot better but the still won’t heal. I can tell as soon as I start moving they are going to flare up again.

There. 3 non-bike sentences. Variety is the spice of blogs.

Later,

Buck.

Zen And The Art Of Lorry Driving.

There is a book called Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s supposed to be expressing spiritual enlightenment through observation of ordinary life with a motorbike. It’s twee, home spun, anecdotal, badly written rubbish.

So, a perfect template for this blog.

It’s just I’ve been trying to make small, but fundamental, changes to my driving attitude. Which has made me reflect on what is wrong in the first place.

The mistakes:

Do not try and impose your will on the universe.

Accept the situation as it is, do not say “should/ shouldn’t”. They should be doing 50mph/ indicate, they shouldn’t get in front of me then brake…

We probably all know someone who spends their life perpetually angry and/or upset because the arbitrary rules they impose on life aren’t respected by people or events. This is bad.

 

Ego.

It’s not about me. Remove self from the equation.  When someone dives into the minimum safe gap you’ve left to the vehicle in front, don’t take it as an insult. Don’t risk crashing thinking “you’re not pushing in in front of ME.”

If you remove self, it’s not a personal challenge or a slight, it’s just the gap has been decreased so you need to roll off the throttle for a few seconds until it opens again. Over the course of a whole day it’s unlikely you’re going to lose more than a minute or two but everyone gets home alive and keeps their job. Also, if you accept, and expect, people pushing in you don’t get yourself into a state about it.

You can either spend the whole day angry and tense or relaxed.

The external situation remains virtually the same, but you can choose how you react to it. Instead of being a victim of external forces you are a passive observer of them. Taking control of the situation by not trying to take control.

 

It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely the way to go.

Of course none of this applies to motorbikes. I swear, I didn’t even know what road rage was until I got a car licence. On a bike slow traffic is just a mobile chicane. Traffic jams are a stationary chicane. No-one cuts me up or holds me up. They may try to kill me with oblivious U turns in front of me, or pulling out without looking, or changing lanes as I’m overtaking, but that doesn’t give me rage, just wakes me up.

You see what you’ve done now? You’ve got me on to motorbikes.

After my initial reservations, I now concede the Triumph is the better bike. ABS brakes, bigger engine, and now I’m getting used to the gearbox, oodles of ‘go’ on tap. I think I was shifting up too quickly. It has a huge spread of speed for each gear. If you want to accelerate, on the slip road joining the motorway for instance, leave it in each gear longer and it will fly. And although I’ve only had it a few days, it has out-cornered my lovely VFR. I set a new PB through a really tight turn and my foot touched down (still on the footpeg). That pretty impressive. Not for my lack lustre riding skills, but that it could instil that much confidence in the grip and handling in such a short time.

When I rode it home I was thinking I was going to have to spend another £260 on a set of tyres. Nope. These will do just fine.

The Triumph is just better.

My reservation now is that it’s too good. There’s too much top end. It’s good for 160mph, but anything over 100 is an automatic ban. 

I was messing with the VFR today. One jet is still blocked, I’ve ordered a new jet. I’ve got to spend a day stripping it down again, but at least then I know it’s in perfect working order. My thinking at the moment is to sell the VFR when I’ve sorted it.

I spent a few hours cleaning the road muck and accumulated cleggy oil of it (from the chain) with a rag and a toothbrush. Then gave it a good wash and polish.

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Looking too nice to sell.

But the Triumph looks pretty too.

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Hmm, looking at them together I see the similarities. Red, (obvs) single sided swing arm, high level exhaust.

Anyway, my vague plan is sell the VFR, then, later on, trade the Triumph Sprint ST for a Triumph Street Triple. It’s a 675cc, naked (no fairing) triple instead of the 1050cc, faired, triple.

That way it’s a lot less top end and you feel every mph because you are being blasted by the wind with no protection from the fairing. That should totally slow me down. It’s a Triumph triple and it handles just as well, so I can still have all the fun, just without the licence shredding top end. This one hits the ton with two gears left. Allegedly.

Amazingly impressed with Triumph though. Who knew?

Later,

Buck.

A Triumph?

I’ve been window shopping bikes for a while now. I know, I know. I love my VFR750 and it’s wonderful and will run for ever, etc, but the grass is always greener.

I was looking at bikes I’ve had before and for which I have a nostalgic fondness. In spite of the actual performance of some of the bikes. But they are all old, old bikes now. My VFR is 25 years old this year.

Then I was looking at the new (-ish) Triumphs. They do a rather nice naked (no fairings) 675cc triple. And the odd thing is, they are really up there on the reviews. Class leading, indeed.

Street triple 2

The downside being they are hugely popular and a premium marque, so expensive. That one is second hand and £4,800.

All the talk is of the distinctiveness of the triple engine. Not revvy like an inline 4, lumpy like a parallel twin, or thumpy like a V twin. Lots of torque, fast, and responsive. With a unique triple character.

I was very sceptical. I thought MotorCycle News (MCN) were just being jingoistic fanboys. The Triumphs I remember were basically semi-mobile teach-yourself-engineering devices. With additional muscle building from pushing it home. But every review, UK, US, Aus, all say the same.

That’s a hell of a turn up for the books.

So, I kept searching the ads, picking my ideal bike,then not buying it because it was too expensive. And I do love my VFR.

Then my lovely VFR spluttered a bit and wasn’t running on all cylinders. Just for a few hundred yards, but then you’re conscious of it. It’s been getting more tricky to start for a while but I put it off as getting at the carbs on a V4 is a bit of an ordeal. Once it’s got to not running on all four you have to do something.

I stripped it down on my day off. Fairings off, seat off, tank off, airbox off, disconnect the carbs then prise them out, take the bottoms off the carbs remove the jets, clean, poke and replace.

Put like that it sounds like a really easy job. So not.  Two of my jets were completely blocked and were really hard to clear. Then just pop it back together again. It took me over 5 hours sat outside in the freezing cold.

I was miffed.

All that faffing about to poke a bit of wire down four jets. Enough is enough.

I hit the internet again, thinking about getting a newer VFR, I love mine, so a newer one, with fuel injection and ABS would be brilliant.

I sourced several. A bit over budget but not by the vast margin of the Street Triple. Then I cross referenced them with MCN reviews. To my amazement they said the VFR800 was good, but the Triumph Sprint ST (Sports Tourer) was in every way better.

A Triumph.

Better. Than. A. Honda.

The VFR is legend. The Best Bike Ever Built. The yardstick. The class leader in ST.

And the Triumph is in every way better.

Wow.

Then I saw it was a 1050cc triple. The magic word, “triple”. WANT! WANT! WANT!

I went on to that sultry temptress eBay, and had a look.

Someone selling a 2005 Triumph Sprint 1050 ST, fuel injection, ABS, 15,000 miles, for £2,500 or best offer.

This was all in the same day and evening as I’d been hassled by my carbs. In a rush of blood to the head I offered £2,300 for it. It looked such a good bike, so low miles, I wanted to click “buy it now” at full price, but I thought I’d try and haggle.

I got up in the morning, cooler head about to prevail, and got an email:  “offer accepted.”

Oh. Whoops.

So Wendy is now the proud co-owner of a Triumph.

She’s totally overjoyed.

Down inside.

Deep, deep, down inside.

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Those are all pictures from the advert. I’ve not actually seen it in daylight yet. Picked it up at night, stupid o’clock start for work, late finish.

I had a massive ordeal going to pick it up yesterday. A bus, 3 trains, and a £21 taxi. Not even as far down as Brum. Wendy needs to get over her fear of motorways. To be fair, after I’d added another hour to my journey time by going to the wrong train station, she did offer to run me, but it would have been too much of a learning curve for her. The M6 is always a nightmare, then unlit country roads, and her longest drive…

Anyhow, I digress.

I picked it up, then followed the taxi driver’s (very bad) advice. What should have been a 80 odd mile journey was 120. And it was so bitterly cold. Several hours of pure frozen.

I’ll give it a while to accustom myself to a new bike and get used to this one for what it is, before I commit to a review of it. But first impressions are; the engine is smooth. So, so smooth. The power is there and it just builds. It doesn’t thump, or scream, or hit mad power bands. It’s like turning a dimmer switch. I’m not sure I like it. It might just be that I have to adjust my riding to how the bike works.

The reviews talk of 160mph top end, footpeg to footpeg cornering, and total comfort for touring. Hence Sports Tourer. I’ll give it a while to adjust to it.

If I don’t take to it, I just have to wait for some warmth and sunshine. When the fair weather bikers get out of their Volvos I can make a few bob on this one.

Rejoice! For the time being we are a two bike family again. Wendy is ordering pink leathers as we speak.

Later,

Buck.

Happy Days!

I’ve completed day 26 of my run streak today. A minimum of 2 miles every day. I will accept 1 mile at a desperate push, but so far I’ve stuck to a minimum of 2.

The idea is that running every day is the quickest way to regain my fitness, stamina and, hopefully, strengthen my weak running muscles that caused the IBTS.

Before I got the IBTS I was trying to go for a sub 3 hour marathon, and I was fairly fit, so I was knocking out lots of PBs. More or less at will. I went for a 10 mile one and near killed myself. I got it, but when I checked back it was only a few seconds faster than when I was run streaking. So, I know it’s the way to go.

I’ve gone from 3 months of injury and a really gentle and tentative start on January the first, to making my ‘long’ run a half marathon (13.1 miles) last week. About 4 miles in to that run I was having self doubt. “Can’t do it! It’s too far!” Today I set out to do a 15 mile run and I felt so good I was going to do 18 miles. My knee started hurting though, so I settled for turning round at 8 miles. My knee held up on the way back, but it was lucky I turned when I did, as the wind was in my face on the way back and I flagged badly. The last 3 miles were tough. Another 2 miles would have been too much.

But the good news is I set out to do 15, did 16, and my knee held.

A nice easy 2 miles tomorrow.

Another positive is some people make it their running goal to do a thousand miles in a year, I’ve started off from tiny runs, there’s another 5 days of this month, and I’m currently on 133 miles. As always, everything is subject to injury, but so far, so good.

In other running news, I’ve been doing one run of hills. This involves running through the pitch black park, over several bridges with steps, one of which is unlit, and doing hill repetitions on a steep bridge that crossed the Mersey, but goes nowhere, so there’s no traffic on it. Also dark.

It turns out the Mersey bridge, running up one side, down the other, then back again, is .4 of a mile. 2½ miles (with 4 bridges) to get there, then hill reps. My second go at that route, this week, I got there then did 3 miles of hill reps.

I’m going to need one for the 24 hour run anyway, but I’ve got a head torch for the dark training.

Some loud!

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I got a cheap, generic one from Decathlon, but it was rubbish. Hard plastic with no padding so it digs into your head. I asked my running chums on Twitter and everyone recommended this brand (LED Lenser). Also, if I don’t like the headband thing, it comes with a chest strap.

That’s my plan now. Hill runs, speed runs, long runs. With easy runs in between. Which reminds me, I started back at the running finding it tough to get under 8.30 m/m. On a 2 mile run this week I warmed up on the first mile then sprinted back. It was incredibly tough, but I got a 6.50. I only need to maintain 6.47 for a sub 3.

I’m not thinking sub 3 at the moment. I’m going to build everything, but aim to put 2 miles per week on my long run. Train more for the 24 hour race. Once I’ve got that out of the way my fitness should be able to cope with trying to go fast.

Yes, back to boring running blogs.

Later,

Buck.

I’M BACK!

It’s only as I sat down to start this that I realised I’ve not done a blog for 3 months.

I’d just done the Chester marathon, set a new PB, but failed at my target. And it was hilly, which I didn’t remember from last time and for which I hadn’t trained.

Turns out missing my target was the least of my worries. Trying to slog up the hills then sprint down the other side to make up time absolutely battered my knees and gave me Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IBTS –now I’m wondering where the T comes from-), which is a tendon (T?) that runs down the leg past the knee. It gets inflamed by “too much, too soon”, or unaccustomed hills etc. I thought I’d shrug it off, but it laid me up for best part of 3 months. I kept going back to it, doing a run or two, then it would flare up again.

As of the first of January, my new year’s resolutions, I’ve been on a run streak (run every day) and 2 sets of exercises specifically designed to strengthen the weak muscles that cause the knee into excessive lateral motion. They are horrible. I’ve avoided strength training these last 9 years because it’s awful and tedious. Needs must.

I’ve even had to be sensible about the running. I usually return to running with a 10 mile run. I tried a few 5s, before breaking again, in the 3 months I was out of the game. This time I started with a 3.3 mile circuit, covering my watch so I wasn’t going for a time, and just plodded it out.

Then I slowly built it up. Like some kind of sane person. After a fortnight, with my ‘long’ run at 6 miles, I cracked and did a 10 mile run. My knee didn’t break so I thought I was alright. Then I started to let it slip. They say hard run one day, easy the next, never back to back. I did the 10 mile (long, by current standards) then a hill run, then another fast one. And my knee flared up. Panic! Back to 2 miles easy, 5 miles easy, 5 miles easy. My knee forgave me, so today I did a test run of a half marathon (13.1 miles). And it held! YAY!

As I was going ‘long’ I didn’t batter the pace or put hills in to it, but as a steady run, it showed my knee will work. So now it’s back to easy day tomorrow, maybe a hill day, easy day, fast day, easy, etc, and keep up with the IBTS exercises. Fingers crossed I am back in the game. Realistically my sub 3 hour marathon isn’t happening for at least the first half of this year. *sigh*

 

The other reason I’ve been absent was the politics thing. I put all my time into flagging up St Jezza and the Glorious Socialist Worker’s Utopia on the thrice damned Facebook, and then I was too devastated to think straight for a while. Luckily, just after the rigged election, Wendy was kind enough to share her norovirus (winter vomiting bug) with me, which focused my mind on more immediate matters and got me through the 7 stages of grief.

I was desperately looking for foreign driving jobs for a while, to try to escape the Reich, but I’m at exactly the wrong age. 55 is the cut-off, I’m 53, by the time I’d got my feet under the table to apply for citizenship I’d be too old. Now I’m settled into waiting out. The only thing that might change is if Scotland look like getting a second independence referendum, I’ll relocate to our Livingstone branch.

For now the only thing is to stay and fight for the continuation of the socialist dream in Labour. And watch as the Brexit turkeys get their Christmas.

Poole, Dorset. 19,000 Tory majority, 72% Leave, have just had the towns only A&E closed.

Grimsby, similar, now begging for a Brexit exemption.

The same week as the election the Tories sold the first NHS hospital to the yanks. And our Defence company. Today the fourth biggest US bank has issued a loan to a UK social housing group. As soon as they miss a payment, there goes the social housing stock.

In the Financial Times today, a top business geezer was saying that Brexit will mean UK workers rights can now be scrapped. There was something a few days ago, holiday pay, fixed hours contracts, sick pay, etc, may soon be a memory.

There is only so many times you can say “We told you so” before it loses all meaning. But that’s not going to stop me.

I’m not down about it anymore. It is what it is. Try and stay left in Labour, wait for the unmitigated disaster that is Brexit, make damn sure the Tories own it, then try again.

 

For me, for now, I’m happy with today. I’ve run a half marathon, sorted my sticking front brake on my motorbike, and changed my ‘phone and broadband contracts for better (and cheaper) ones. And believe me, that was quite an achievement. The company’s website was working perfectly until I hit “want to leave”, then, by some crazy coincidence, it all went horribly wrong. Took me forever. But I won. Ha!

 

I’ve asked work to go back on to a full time contract at work. It’s not the 4 on/ 4 off I thought I was getting. I wanted to work 6 (4 plus 2 overtime) one week, one day off, then 4, with 4 days off. I can’t do it on this shift pattern and I’m having to book extra days in work anyway, so I might as well get my shifts back.

 

So, I’m doing what little I can on the big stage and working on my stuff on the small stage. And now I’m back to running I’m feeling better about life in general anyway.

More boring run stuff will doubtless be forthcoming. Sorry.

Later,

Buck.

Chester Marathon.

I actually learned my lesson this time! I got all my kit ready last night. I did a trial pack of my helmet and whatever kit I could fit into my backpack. I ended up sawing down an old, cheapo, pair of boots so they would fit in my bag, to save me from riding to the race in trainers. They must be 10 years old, fake leather bike boots. Basically steel toecap wellies. I’d forgotten I still had them. Anyway; improvise, adapt, overcome.

So last night I went to bed knowing all was set for this morning.  The race didn’t start until 09.00, I set out out 07.00. Which meant a fairly stress-free ride to the race, even though it was raining and the satnav took me a way I wasn’t expecting. The first car park was so full it wasn’t even letting people in, but due to my new strategy of leaving myself sufficient time, I just turned around and found another one. Took off my bike kit, sauntered to the bag drop, and had 40 minutes or so to wait for the race.

The difference to the stressfest of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was incredible. So that was a success.

The rest, not so much.

As I never stop saying, I want to go sub 3 hours for the marathon. My best to date was 3.41:40.

Today, seeing as I’ve been doing a bit of speed training and such, I really wanted to get down to 3.15.

I set off just behind the 3.15 pacer. (They have pacers who run around holding a sign with the speed they are going to finish.) It was all going swimmingly. The pacers seemed to be too fast, they would charge along at 7.09m/m pace, then slow down just before the end of the mile to come in at the right time of 7.30. So it seemed to me, anyway. The good thing was it wasn’t bothering me. I was thinking of staying with them, fast and slow, until the half way mark and then carrying on at the fast pace. Then we started hitting hills. Stupidly, I’ve been doing my training down the canal and on a local 10 mile road lap that has one slight hill. The hills just smashed my legs. I tried easing up on the pace going up, then sprinting to catch up with pace markers downhill.

I was holding the pace for the first 10 miles but the hills just kept coming and my legs were wasted. At 13 miles I got the psychological boost of the halfway point which in my mind is turning towards home, so picked up the pace again. But the next mile there were more hills and my legs had set. I was still fighting up until about mile 20 when I just couldn’t get back up to speed. If it had been a training run I would have quit by then. As it was I just had to shuffle on. The last few miles were misery. They scored about a ‘3 stone twins, no anaesthetic childbirth’ on the suffering scale. Still more hills.

I was staggering into the last mile when the 3.30 pacer ran past me! I drew on everything I had and chased him for the whole mile. I finished in 3.30:33.

The negatives, obviously, are that I crashed and burned due to no hill training. Also, that I should have know that it was a hilly course and prepared. It runs from Chester into Wales, of course it’s going to be hilly! Not sure how I missed that. I’ve run it before. Apparently I forgot.

The positives: preparation and allowing yourself extra time is totally the way to go. I beat my PB by 11.07, (which was set on a flat course) and death doesn’t seem as bad now.

I’ve just got an email with my stats from the marathon. I finished 51 out of 347 in my age/ sex group. (Male 50- 54). I’ve done the maths (well, a calculator has) and that puts me in the top 15% for my category. 14.7% , to be exact. It’s no excuse for crashing that badly, but it shows that it was a tough course, and absolutely not one to be chasing PB.

I might do it next year, but if so it will be as a fun run.

The other bit of good news, as I’m this done in, is I asked for an extra shift at work for tomorrow, but they’ve knocked me back, so I’ve got an unexpected day off to recover. I’ll do a small, gentle, recovery run (jog) to try and break my legs up and get them working again.

I’m off next Sunday, if I’ve recovered I’ll do a flat marathon around here and see what my real time is.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Later,

Buck.

General.

Just a catch up.

I had a low patch a few weeks ago. I was worried I was coming down with loony again, happily it was just a blip, but it’s always a wake up call. However well you’re doing in life, job, training, personal goals, if you go loony it all counts for nothing. 

They say that running is actually good for your mental health. It de-stresses you, focuses your mind on the task in hand (suffering and trying not to die, I assume) and releases endorphins, which are painkillers and a natural “high”.

I should be immune from loon. Yay!

My run of race misfortune has hit the superstitious third event. The Outlaw triathlon cancelled the bike session so a year’s training was wasted as it wasn’t a tri. I set off late and got lost so managed to miss the South Cheshire 20 (mile race). Then, 6 days before the Warrington half marathon, I got an email saying they’d cancelled it, due to ‘safety concerns’. They said they were trying to rearrange it and we’d hear the details the next week. That was a fortnight ago, still no offer of a refund, free entry into next year’s race, or a new race date for this year.

My next race is Chester marathon in a week. Let’s see how that goes. I’m predicting asteroid strike.

 

While I was low I was window shopping for another bike. Apparently that’s part of my (BPD) condition, that I enjoy the thrill of shopping. The fact that I couldn’t get excited about it and even after I’d tracked down the bike I should get and was thinking “what’s the point?” is telling in itself.

I was thinking of an ‘adventure bike’.

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They’re big, supposedly robust, go-anywhere motorbikes. Usually bedecked with big stainless steel looking box panniers. The thing about them is, when you put a different screen on them, they create a bubble of quiet to ride in, and due to the sit up and beg riding position, they are supposed to be all day comfortable.

I forgot to say, what prompted me to look, beyond trying to find my happy place, was I’ve started getting tinnitus. Not the usual background whistle when it’s quiet, but a quite loud sound that alters pitch, making it harder to ignore. I really don’t want that to get any worse. I bought a new, so-tight-it-makes-your-eyes-bulge helmet but I was still getting motorway wind noise so I was panicking a bit.

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At least I shouldn’t get run over while I’m going deaf!

Someone on twitter said he’d fitted his adventure bike with this fancy screen to get the bubble of quiet I’ve just described.

Then it struck me, my gorgeous VFR750 is a sports/ tourer. Why buy another bike when mine is designed to be a comfy tourer? That also goes like stink, if you want.

I got the fancy screen my twitter mate was on about.

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The idea of it is that it has a bit of a lip so it pushes the air to the top of your helmet, and the funny second screen thing smoothes the air turbulence so there’s a lot less noise.

That worked a lot. The other thing is the sit up and beg position. I bought some risers. They are just collars that fit under your handlebars and lift them the maximum permissible height within the fairing (only 2cm but it’s supposed to make a big difference). And a comfier seat. I was going to get a gel pad insert, but the same guy on twitter said someone had done his seat. Apparently gel pads leak eventually and aren’t as good as they sound. What this guy does is strip out the cheapo, but fairly adequate foam the manufacturers fit, replace it with super-duper luxury foam, and fits a better, grippier, seat cover.

I’ve only got it back today, but the work looks quality. I’ll take it for a bit of a test ride tomorrow.

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Oh, I also bought a cheapo, £10, Chinese, ‘phone holder. It attaches to the handlebars and holds your mobile so you can use it as a satnav. I don’t want to get lost ever again, it’s irritating. Especially if it means you miss your race.

So that’s my bike all sorted, now I just need a day of reasonable weather to do a long distance test ride. We’re in the monsoon season at the moment, so not ideal.

Which is handy, as Wendy finally gave up asking the housing association if they were painting the exterior doors or if we should do it. Months she’s been asking. Not even for them to do the job, just to know if they were or if we should. Anyway, she gave up and we painted the doors. The paint says 16 hours between coats, in the dry. We put the first coat on, it dried, then it’s chucked it down for 8 days. Super. The forecast is for rain for the next fortnight. Super duper. I expect we’ll give them the second coat around June.

It was a double blow as the seat guy, who does a ‘while you wait’ service is based right at the bottom of Surrey, near Brighton. I looked at it. A 500 mile round trip, but was put off by the M25 (London ring road) section. That is awful at any time. Also he said on the ‘phone it was ‘first come, first served’ and it took a few hours to do the job. If I’d have ridden down and not got seen I’d have been miffed.

So I sent it by post, just got it back, 10 days later. Which meant a week of cycling to work. In the rain. It’s hardly rained for months. Until 1: we paint the doors 2: I send my seat motorbike seat away 3: I want to do a long ride to test my new motorbike set up.

Sigh.

And, after all that, I think a lot of the tinnitus was caused by earwax build up, not being deafened! We’ve been habitually using ear plugs for good sleep. It seems, obviously in retrospect, that they compact the earwax and prevent it’s natural movement out of the ears. I’ve been putting olive oil in my lugs, as per the NHS website recommendation, and it seems to be a lot better. If so, I’m still glad I got the screen and all that, better to have a false alarm prompt me into preventative measures than being stuck with damage limitation.

 

In other medical news, I’ve had a red patch on my face for about a year or so. If I don’t keep it slathered in skin cream it immediately dries out and flakes. Last week I started getting it, or something similar, on my forehead. Flaking like mad, itching, and a bit tender. I gave up and went to the doctors before my whole face fell off.

She said it’s a kind of dermatitis. Apply this cream for a fortnight, job’s a good ‘un. Huh. I’ve been using it two days and my forehead is already tons better.

While I was there I said about my loss of taste and smell. She’s given me a referral to the Ears, Nose and Throat specialist, but said that could take months, in the meantime she’s arranging an MRI to determine if there’s any obvious nerve damage. I’m not sure how that would show up or how I damaged it (with a killer cold, 2½ years ago) but at least she’s throwing everything at it. She said if it’s nerve damage then it’s permanent, but if not they can try and sort it.

 

In my training I’ve been following that Advanced Marathoning book’s plan. I’m on a taper fortnight now, for next Sunday’s marathon. I’ve never done a taper before. I’ll be interested to see how I do. My PB at the mo is 3.40:53. That was an average pace of 8.26 m/m.

I’m going to set off at 7.15 and try to keep it under 7.30. I’ve no idea if I can sustain that. If I could it would be roughly 3.15. I’m going to have to really try for that. I’ve got to be sub 3 for April.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how much fitness and stamina I’ve built. A PB is a PB but I really want a significant gain.

Right, I’ve rambled enough.

My next blog better be epic!

Later,

Buck.

Smashing It!

A bit of good news. It’s just a run but it has me buzzing.

I have two days off so I thought I’d test myself. A good, middle distance that I often run is 10 miles. I decided to do a Personal Best (PB).

I said (on my running account on Twitter) “Think I’ll do a 10 mile PB today. If the wind isn’t too bad. Neighbour’s gate has been banging. Hmmmm. It’ll be good training just making the attempt. Hahaha, way to backpedal in the space of 280 characters!”

I wanted to do 6.48 m/m pace, but was willing to settle for 7.00. My PB being 1.11:12, average of 7.07 m/m.

I set off at a reasonable pace, 6.47, then slowed slightly as I got into the wind, 7.01, then 7.05.  Then I got into a nearly 2 mile stretch that always funnels the wind and it was killer. I was beasting myself to try and get my pace down from 7.40. I clawed it back to 7.30 then 7.26.

In those two miles I knew I’d lost it. I couldn’t make up a minute of lost time. I was nearly killing myself just to keep a bad time, I had nothing left to pick up the pace for the way back. The nagging voice in your head that is always telling you to stop was shouting “YOU CAN’T DO IT!  MIGHT AS WELL JOG THE REST!”

I ignored it and pushed on, just to try and get a good time, if not PB.

At 5 miles I turned around, legs burnt out and lungs on fire, and suddenly the wind wasn’t stopping me!

6.58, for no more effort! I can do this! 6.52, 6.52, 7.00, 6.58!

I did it in 1.10:42, average pace 7.03!

A new 10 mile PB and a 10K PB along the way!

I get people telling me (rightly) I’m too negative about my achievements, but I am honestly chuffed to bits with this one. Not so much the time as the not quitting, and giving it everything, even when I knew it was a lost cause. I usually just accept a PB and think I should have done better. This one means something. Again, not the time, I fully intended to smash that next time out, but in those conditions…

I don’t know. I don’t think I’m expressing it very well.

Let me just say that was my best ever run and I’m pleased, possibly even proud.

Also, it’s given me a real boost in my confidence. If I can do 10 miles in those conditions, at 7.03, it’s not too much of a stretch to run 13.1 at 6.48, surely?  (My intermediate goal of a sub 1.30 half marathon.)

Anywho,

later,

Buck.

Enough!

I booked a day off work for today to run the South Cheshire 20 (a local 20 mile race near Crewe.)

I swapped the weeks on my training plan so my long run would be a 20 miler instead of 16.

I started to look into it late yesterday afternoon. I am not big on planning and preparation. Just before bed I looked up where it was on Google maps, wrote out the landmarks I’d need (Jct 16 M6, A500, first exit Shavington, left opposite some pub, right at crossroads, left.)

I set off this morning a bit late. I still reckoned I had about 20 or so minutes to park my bike, change, pick up my race number and amble to the start line.

I got to the pub turning but they’d renamed it from the one on Google maps, so I rode past, just to make sure it wasn’t around the corner.  It wasn’t. As I was running late I thought I’d just follow the road around and cut across to pick up my lost route.

I ended up riding around Crewe. At 09.25 (race started at 09.30) I was lost in Chorlton.

Then I had to ride home. I wasn’t really layered up for a nearly 2 hour ride. I was expecting 40 minutes there, run and shower, 40 minutes back, all toasty.

By the time I got home I was freezing, miffed, and really angry with myself.

This isn’t the first time. The whole of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was a stressed out nightmare, trying to put my wetsuit on 3 minutes before the start of the race, missing the start, etc.

Well, no more. I’ve had enough. I know I’m a last minute, wing it, sort, so in future I’m going to sort everything first and give myself plenty of spare time. If I’d have had another 10 or 15 minutes this morning I could have turned around and gone back to the pub, or pulled over, checked maps and rerouted.

If I have to stand around for 30 minutes before races, at least I’ll be relaxed getting there, and I’ll be there in time to actually do the race.

 

I regrouped and went for a run on my own. I’ve got a bunch of run routes locally. Some really nice ones down the canal (flat as a pancake, obviously) and a 10 mile road route which is also basically flat.

I decided to punish/ redeem myself with a hilly 20 mile run towards Frodsham. There are the rolling hills along Walton drag, and some proper steep hills further on.

I set off to try and do a good pace. Not even. It was blowing a gale and those hills! I managed the 20 miles but it was pitifully slow and painful. (8.28 m/m average.) Something else that’s going to change, I’m incorporating hill runs into my training.

 

That’s the fail out of the way. Oh, apart from one other thing.

I was sat, minding my own business in the front room. Bike locked up on the pavement outside the front room window.

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As you can see someone had parked across the way from us. Wendy didn’t have the room to swing into a parking slot, so instead of just parking the car diagonally across both our parking bays, she reversed in. STRAIGHT INTO MY BIKE!

My bike rocked back, I thought she’s smashed all my fairings for sure. They are difficult to source and way dear to have resprayed. I ran out, but thanks to the angle, she’s just hit the footpeg. No damage to the bike. She’s put a dint in her car, but that’s just karma for attacking my bike. The divorce lawyers are sorting that out.

That’s definitely all the fail.

 

The good news is my foot is holding up, even with the increased mileage and speed required for my new training plan. And I don’t have to buy new shoes or do anything tricky or expensive, just slacken the laces as far as they’ll go and job’s a good ‘un. (And apply lots of ibuprofen gel and wear a compression bandage full time, but that’s no big deal.)

The new training plan I’m following, (from the Advanced Marathoning book) is tough and demanding but I think I’m already seeing results.

My mid-long run this week was 15 miles at marathon target pace (6.48 m/m) +10- 20%. Roughly 7.30- 8.10. I wanted to be hold it to 7.30, obviously. I did the first 8 miles in 1 hour and 1 second, almost exactly 7.30. I faded a bit after that but still kept it going. Averaged at 7.36 for the 15, a new PB, and only 7 seconds off my half marathon PB on the way. I’ve jumped into the plan halfway through as I want some results before the Chester marathon next month, but then I can start the plan from scratch and work up to the Manchester marathon in April.

Oh, and I found the pictures from the Outlaw online.

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Cracking the flags, as you can see. The thing that surprised me was my face looks skinny. I still think of myself as a bit chunky.

While I was digging through my pictures I found these, which make me laugh.

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Dog

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Right, that’s enough.

Later,

Buck.

Decision Made

I’ve quit triathlon. For the third, and possibly last, time.

I’m going to sell my fancy pushbike.

I was deliberating and torturing myself over it. I really wanted to get the benchmark sub 10 hours, but I can’t get past my loathing of the swim. And my biking isn’t much better. I could do the biking in the shed on Sufferfest, … stop it!  Decision made. I’ve done 3 and 2/3rds triathlons just going for a finish, if I can’t go for benchmark there is no point in forcing myself to do stuff I hate.

I’m over it. Moved on. … Mostly.

 

So now it’s the running. Which I enjoy. It is a constant, direct challenge. And it’s relatively short. A 3 hour run is a long training run (20+ miles) whereas on the bike it’s only a short ride (about 45 miles) and in the pool it means I’ve drowned.

 

I’ve been suffering from pulled tendons on the top of my left foot (extensor tendonitis, Doctor Google informs me) since January, but it hasn’t got any worse so I’ve ignored it and carried on.

I had a week’s rest before my tri then ran the marathon on race day (Sunday).

The next week I had the Monday off to rest, and the Wednesday (as I did a 14 hour shift, with an hour’s commute). I still put in a 54 miles running week.

I threw everything at it. Previously when I was trying for speed work I’d built up to 5 miles, holding as near as I could get to my target pace of 6.48 m/m. I’ve been reading a book that says most of the tiredness and resistance to speed is your mind trying to pace your energy, not your body tiring. So, 4 days after my tri/bi marathon, I went flat out for 5 miles.

I got a PB (Personal Best) for 5K and 5 miles. Not too shabby.

I did some 8 mile runs then a double pack run day to work, 17+ miles round trip, and an 18 mile long run.

 

It was a good week. But, as usual, it was too much, too soon. My foot got a lot worse. I had to give in and rest it for 6 days. In that time I read up on extensor tendonitis. The big contributory factor everyone agreed on was too tight footwear, causing the tendons to rub as your foot flexes. I’ve been in the habit of lacing my boots tight since the army. The leather shapes around your foot and becomes like a foot glove. In theory. Also, I have to buy motion control trainers as I overpronate (my foot rolls inwards when I run) which I assumed would mean they had to be tight to do the controlling of motion thing.

It’s worth a shot. So for the last 6 days my motorbike boots and work boots have been as slack as I could make them (and I’ve been using ibuprofen gel and a compression bandage, obviously). Today my foot was the best it’s been in months so I decided to do a test run.

I slackened off my trainers and set out to do a 10 mile PB. I was aiming at 7m/m for the 10 miles. I set off at a cracking pace, I was running at 6.47 and it wasn’t killing me. I’d like to say “comfortable”, but there’s only so far you can stretch the definition. Then I turned the corner into the wind. Like running into the back of a bus. I tried to keep on pressing on with my time but it was no use. I settled for completing the 10 miles.

The great news is that my foot was fine afterwards! It’s had time to set and get a bit sore since, but nothing bad. I’m hoping I’ve cracked it. I will be so happy if it’s mainly the footwear and I can work around it.

I’ll try another run tomorrow to confirm it.  With any luck it’s manageable damage and I can keep on training. With a heap of luck it’s just the footwear and I can train and it will get better. We’ll see. The good news is it can’t be that bad if 6 day’s rest more or less cures it.

The exciting thing for me now is the Warrington half marathon in 5 weeks. It’s a bit short notice but as I’ve got a base of 5 miles at the right pace, it’s possible, if I actually have more in the bag right now, that I could get up to a 1.30 half. That would be awesome.

That’s probably not going to happen in time. But it’s certainly a benchmark goal.

 

In other news, Wendy asked me to go for a ride in the car with her as there was a funny sound. She only did about 2 miles. When we got back the nearside rear brake disc was too hot to touch. And has a scratches scored in it. Oops. I Googled it and it seems it’s a common fault. Rust builds up in the barrel around the brake piston and it eventually seizes. They said it’s probably going to need a new brake caliper. Less than ideal, but at least she caught it before it did any serious damage.

 

The other thing is; another handle has snapped on the windows of our house. The one in the bathroom has been broken for at least a year, longer in the spare room. I’ve been putting it off and swapping bits around as I’ve not idea where to start with model of double glazed windows and fittings and such. Tonight I had to do another one and I’d had enough. I hit eBay to start the process of working out what I needed.

They are a universal fit. Any of them will work. D’oh!

I’ve ordered 4 handles, with the bar that fits in them, the screws to attach them, their own keys, and postage and package for £11. All in.

Years.

*bangs head off keyboard*

 

I forgot to say; it’s a huge weight off my mind now I’ve quit. I was hating the training but badly wanted the result, then I felt I’d made a commitment and I had to follow it though. Now I’m focusing on running, and I’ve moved on, it all feels good again. If my foot doesn’t get any worse I am going to batter this!

Later,

Buck.

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