I think it’s time to be upbeat again. It’s been a bit of weird time, but it looks like I’m moving on, at last.
I’ve done all the agency messing about. Registering one day, driving assessment another, site induction (for 2½ hours!) another, them checking my driver card, references, and criminal record. All done.
I start work on Monday.
After I passed the assessment they rang me up for availability for next week. I just said “all.” They asked what shifts I’d like. Huh? I just thought I’d be on nights. Days if at all possible. What start time window? Wow. OK, 07.00-10.00, ideally, but I’ll take owt.
They text me back with two shifts for the whole week within that window. I applied for other jobs, if they can’t get me shifts in peak there’s no point in me being there.
They text me again today, would you be willing to start at 05.00? I was willing to do nights, 05.00 is ungodly o’clock, but it’s still days. OK. They’ve given me 6 shifts for next week. Then text me back and asked if I wanted to work tomorrow. (No, because it was insufficient notice for my first shift. I’d got my mind set that I was starting Monday.)
Once I’ve done the job a few days and settled into it I’ll try and do 6 shifts/ 5 shifts (legal maximum) until the work runs out in January. This gig gives me some breathing space, has the potential to earn some decent cash, and it gets me back driving and working.
So that’s working out nicely. And after the 6 weeks of not working my foot is really loads better. I did that 2½ hours induction, walking about in my steel toecap boots, and it felt like I’d hurt the top of my foot again. It didn’t feel like the movement pain, more like a bruised feeling, but it was in the exact area of the ongoing problem. I’ve ordered some trainer style steel toe caps, to see if that stops it. Also, I forgot to say, the depot is about 2 or so miles from my front door. I will be pushbiking in to work, wearing my normal clothes and a big hi-viz coat, and won’t have to worry about getting all sweaty and needing a shower or getting changed before I can start.
Talking of cycling…
here is comes…
NEW BIKE! YAY!
I’ve got my cheapo road bike which I will still be using for riding to work and such
but the bike I’ve got on the turbo trainer just doesn’t cut the mustard.
It’s a great bike for it’s purpose, which is sitting upright and riding through mud, but I’ve moved on again. I’m going to clean it and get it on eBay. I am orientated towards triathlon now. I need to be lay low over the handlebars, which is not comfy, you have to practice to strengthen your body to hold the position. There is no point to sitting upright on the turbo and building big legs if my body won’t bend into shape on the day.
I didn’t want to go full-on tri bike to start. I did that last time, then found out the motor was rubbish.
Having a super-duper bike is worse than pointless if you aren’t good enough to ride it. It makes you look stupid as well as rubbish. “All the gear and no idea”. I wanted a road bike I could go out and ride, but one that I could also use for my race just by sticking some different handlebars on.
I was looking at a Canyon Aeroad, sleek, aero, brilliant spec, and gorgeous. And light. About 8kg as I recall. I want light as the Bolton Ironman is basically all uphill.
But they are 3 or 4 thousand for a second hand one. The cheapest I saw was a 2016 one for £1,600 and that didn’t have the aero wheels which are over a grand on their own.
Then I heard about the Boardman range. I had a Boardman road bike for my first triathlon. They are renowned for being lots of bang for your buck, but not so desirable.
I saw this.
A 2017, second hand, XS size and 7kg (!) bike with a great gearset (gears/ brakes, levers, crank) for £900. Still dear, but again I’m buying one bike that will go on the turbo, do long rides in the summer, and race. It’s all in one. I’d have to spend £400 just for a cheap bike for the turbo with the right amount of gears. The downsides are; second hand, (bit of an unknown) not in any way aero (which is throwing away free speed/ making riding 112 miles harder) and pure road bike position so a huge compromise trying to get it set up like a triathlon bike.
And then, while I was thinking in that price ballpark, I saw this:
It’s a 2019, brand new, XS, 8kg, aero, the updated version of the same great gearset, Boardman Elite Air 9.2, for £1,049.
I was torn. I asked some people on Twitter which is better for speed, (specifically involving hills) having a bike that’s a kilo lighter or aero. One guy, who has done the Bolton IM said “Comfortable is fast. You won’t notice the difference in weight. I’d get the aero one because it looks cooler.” Hahaha. Nice.
I cleared it with Wendy and got it.
I’ll not lie. I wasn’t excited. It was a tool to do the job, but it didn’t thrill me. Then it arrived. Wow. It looks so much better in the flesh. Instead of a boring white it’s a nice grey (which I expect they market as “silver”) the wheels look way more aero in real life than on the picture and it’s just a fantastic bike.
The more I found out about it the happier I got. This is the one they also sell as a triathlon bike. The seat post has four screw holes in the top so you can move the saddle forward into an aggressive triathlon position. The only difference between this model and the tri one is different handlebars. Then I re-read some reviews, the road one, I got, was retailing at a few quid short of £2,800! Mine was advertised as “New, ex display” and I’ve noticed a few, tiny, scuffs on the seat post and such, but you really have to look. What a bargain! The groupset by itself is from £700. In the sale. Wow.
I’m still in the process of finding the right settings (seat height, angle, position forward or back, getting my clip on aero bars right) but it’s an awesome bike. I did 1½ hours on the Trainer Road today and I still haven’t got it right. I’ve bought a longer stem already to give me more stretch to the handlebars. It seems whenever I get the right size frame on a road bike, it’s too short when I drop into aero. But I fixed my cheapo bike with a £10 (was is?) extension hopefully this will be the same. I’m also looking at aero bars already. It’s deep into off season, people are giving them away. There’s a set going, complete, for £23. That’s the aero bars for lying on, the normal bars for standing doing hill climbs, and it’s even got the brake levers and cables. For £23! It’s eBay so a bidding war could break out, but it’s got two days to go and nobody has bid on it yet.
Once I’ve got the full set up I can get a professional bike fit. Take the guess work out of it. Once the bike is set correctly to me, it’s up to me to get used to it.
Then it’s train, train, and train some more.
A few points. Even though my damned obsessive thing (pushbike, in this instance) was making my life a misery (up till gone midnight googling bikes, as soon as I got up in the morning 2 hours more searching) I cleared it with Wendy first. If she’d have thought we couldn’t have afforded it I wouldn’t have got it. There are limits even to my monumental self absorption . We’ve still got thousands in the bank, I haven’t just blow all our share/save money after getting myself sacked. Even if there’s absolutely zero work in January, we won’t go short. (The lady doth protest too much.)
Also, everyone refers to bike weight in kilos, which is why I’m using it, I’ve not converted to French.
In some fantastic news I nearly overlooked (you forget when it’s not wasting you) I really think I might be coming to the end of the plague weakness. I still get a bit weak, here and there, but it’s not the “lay down and inhale all the calories” weakness I was getting. I really hope I’m right on this. It’s only a few weeks ago I had got to the stage where I was resigned to it being for life, and I was thinking I might have to quit all my sports. The weakness now is just an echo. It’s irritating rather than debilitating. Fingers crossed. We still get the sore throat and such, but again, that’s just a bother, it doesn’t impinge on your life. Following on from that, I am actually holding down a diet! This is the first time I’ve lasted more than a few days. I used to be able to cut out sweets and just run off the excess calories. I was never slim, but I didn’t get too chunky. Nearly 3 months of no running and I’ve had to take action. It was impossible to maintain the diet when the plague struck, but now I’m managing to (slowly) lose weight. Huzzah!
So, it’s all change. And all good. I want more of this.
I had an idea about the bike position. I moved the arm rests forward by about 2 inches, adjusted the seat angle, yet again, and I think I’ve cracked it. It was just the bars/ arm rests being too near the saddle. I’ve found a reasonably comfortable position. Once my longer stem arrives that should sort it. Sadly half way through the workout the arm rest snapped off my old bolt-on tri bars, so I’ve had to raise the handlebars to a road bike position again until I can replace them. There is way too much weight thrown forward onto your arms otherwise.
I thought after yesterday’s ride, today’s looked easy.
All of it below my FTP (max sustainable power). Caught out again. It was 10 minute warm up, then 7x 10 minute blocks, all near my FTP, then 10 minutes warm down. It doesn’t sound like much, only 1½ hours ride, all below FTP. But the thing is there are no easy bits. On a turbo trainer you can’t freewheel or slack off to catch your breath. It’s constant, relentless effort. Following a training plan has made me realise why I never got better for my triathlons. Even though I was commuting 22 miles a day for over a year at one point. I was always putting in the same effort, which I thought was a good effort. It’s nothing like what the training plans expect of me. They don’t ask too much of me, but I never asked even half enough of myself. I was always leaving a ton in the tank. I’m still in the ‘building endurance and fitness’ stage of the first block, of the beginner level, of the training plan and already it’s pushing me harder than I pushed myself. Brilliant. I really think this could work for me (depending on me being able to train around whatever job I eventually get). Which is something else I have thought about, with these 05.00 starts, even if I did 12 hour shifts I could still fit in training before bed. Possibly, while this job lasts, this has worked out ideally, despite not being what I requested. If I’d have started at 09.00 it would have been too early (the turbo and my gasping for air can be noisy) for me to train at say 06.30 (at least without Wendy beating me to death with a rolled up Good Word, or whatever) and too late at say 22.00 for the neighbours.
The swimming baths are opening again on Wednesday, and it’s my 3 month test run on my dodgy hoof on the 10th. Realistically, I think it will be the next 3 month test run before I’m fully healed, but it’s worth a very gentle test. If a training plan can do this for bike strength and speed, I’m going to be all over the run and swim plans.
Right, I’ve waffled enough.
Time for some Dinos then I’m out of here.
And some kids asked to imagine life at 40 years old.
So, if you’ve made it past 40, well done.