Author: Buck

Maturity. It Was Good While It Lasted.

OK, so my sensible deconstruction of ‘buying new motorbike is essential. NOW!’ argument didn’t wash. To be fair, at least I’m sort of swapping motorbikes, not lashing out another two grand on top. And it’s sort of sensible. I was driving myself insane obsessing over that Triumph Daytona, which is, bottom line, a beautiful but wildly impractical bike.

Sports riding position (which I like, but is rarely comfortable, especially over distance). Zero storage capacity. And made to be revved straight to licence shredding speeds. It was very, very desirable, and I wanted it so bad, but I resisted. Just.

I was tempted again when I saw another impractical beauty, but this one would have been about £15K by the time I’d bought it blind from the States. A 1940s Harley.

If you were wondering what Wendy wants for Christmas, you can’t go wrong.

Then I saw a totally different bike. It’s a CBF1000 Honda , so you know it’s going to be quality, but the model had completely slipped under my radar. Take a Honda Fireblade (warpspeed race bike) engine, detune it, (so you have all the power in the bottom and the middle rather than at a gazzillion revs) and stick it in a tourer set up.

I should have taken some pictures. That was from the advert and it looked fine on my ‘phone, but it’s all grainy on here. The guy bought it last year and got it all set up for touring Ireland, but then Covid, so that’s not happening. It’s got virtually all the bits I would want to add. Taller screen with the wind calmer thing, progressive fork springs, new set of nicer sounding exhausts, crash bungs, and full, detachable, luggage. The only thing I might add are heated hand grips.

I was looking at the advert, with those boxes and the fairing,and thinking of my marathons. I could ride to the race, stash my lid, leather, boots and clothes, do the run and change back. I wouldn’t have to worry about borrowing Wendy’s car, or horrendous drives in traffic. Then I read the Motorcycle News reviews, which are absolutely glowing; because it’s a detuned race engine it is so unstressed it runs forever (while I was window shopping one came up that had done 161,000 miles). It’s got all the low down poke you could want. It’s supremely comfortable over distance. And it’s a 1000cc bike that delivers somewhere around 50mpg, with a 200 mile tank. My current 600cc bike, even after buying a power commander to make it run right, still only does about 30mpg. You are desperately looking for a petrol station at 100 miles. And the 1000 is cheaper than my current bike.

I cracked like an egg.

Wendy’s off work with stress so I seized the opportunity to get a lift to pick it up from Crewe. Wendy is not a confident driver outside of her familiar comfort zone, and is scared of motorways, so I said I’d drive us there, if I got the bike I’d follow her while she used her satnav to guide us back the main road, then I’d overtake and she could follow me home on the A roads. The bike was a steal so I got it and followed her. As soon as we set off I noticed the petrol gauge was in the red. Luckily we came across a garage almost immediately. I flashed Wendy madly, put my indicator on to let her know what I was doing, then pulled in to fill up. She carried on. Oh no. By the time I’d filled up she was long gone. Which meant she was out in the sticks, all on her own, stressed out of her face. On top of ongoing stress issues. I’d even left my ‘phone in the car with her so there was absolutely nothing I could do. Poor sausage. She made it home, which will probably boost her morale when she stops to think about it. She didn’t thank me.

I wasn’t in a much better state. I was lost in the wilds of Crewe with no ‘phone for satnav. I just kept going until I saw a sign for the motorway, then I was fine. The bike is great! I’d forgotten what it was like to look in your mirrors and see what kind of car is behind you. Usually it’s a vaguely car shaped blur. I couldn’t actually read the number plates behind me, but I could see they were there. I can’t even tell it’s a marked police car on the 600. And the power is really nice. Open it up and it flies forward. But get to a ton and it gets very vibey. Allegedly. That is kind of perfect. A 1000cc of power in comfort, right up to the automatic ban limit, then it’s unpleasant. Genius. Because I’ve not ridden in a while I forgot to put my ear defenders in, but the screen and wind calmer thing made it really quiet. And despite it blowing a gale head-on, I didn’t feel any wind buffeting. When the wind was hitting me from the side I was getting blown about a bit, but there’s no getting away from that short of a car. Now I really want some nice summer weather and an end of lockdown. If that short blast was anything to go by, this is going to be the comfiest bike ever!

To pay for it I’m selling my CBR600F. eBay is not the funnest of things, but there seems to be a good deal of interest. I hadn’t realised, with not riding it for 3 months, but the MOT ran out last year, so I’m getting it done tomorrow. Hopefully those showing interest will commit to giving me lots of money then.

I’ve been clearing the garden as preparation for laying the foundations for my new shed. It looked like a tip. Two dead bikes, bags, stuff out of my old shed strewn about or piled up. I decided to bit the bullet and get rid of Nath’s bike. I could have took it apart again and sold the new bits I’d fitted, but that would have been a slow process and I’d have still been left with a lot of the bike to get rid of. I just put it up for £80 to get shut. Some pensioner guy has bought it today to do as a hobby. If my 600 sells I’ll move my new bike on to the front, then put my project bike near the kitchen window, then the garden will look neat and tidy. I started digging out around the flags that were laid for the original shed today. It’s a good job I’ve got so long to do it. It’s taking forever.

The good news is the digging today has given me a sore back, but my shoulder is absolutely fine. I didn’t even think about it until Wendy asked. It gets a bit sore at work sometimes, but just a dull ache, nothing much. That could just be the muscle cramp thing I get on my shoulder when I get it cold.

Work is weird. It’s just a matter of perspective and attitude. I got three shifts last week and I’ve got three next week. Which is quite good for the time of year and seeing as the main depot is virtually closed down while they automate it. It’s the type of work though. I’m used to doing one or two runs, sometimes with a collection on the way back. These are loads of little runs. I had 6 drops yesterday. If it starts going wrong, and you start running late, that’s 6 more opportunities for it to get worse. And you are looking at the run sheet and thinking I’ve done all this and I’ve still got to tip here, run to Preston, load, run to Manchester, tip, then run back to base. I was getting well cheesed off with it. As I was driving back to base, and it was finally over, I was thinking, ‘ah well, at least huge hours are loads of money’. Then I realised I’d only done a 9 hours15 shift. That’s nothing in lorry driving. That’s a bit of an early dart. So it’s purely mental. The time is brief, the jobs are easy, but it seems awful. I don’t know why. I started looking for another job. Full time, long runs, preferably. Then I looked at the agency app for my shifts. Even though I’ve been off for 6 of them with a broken shoulder, they are still giving me the pay parity agency get at Royal Mail after 12 weeks. That’s £17 an hour! I’m going to have to suck it up, aren’t I? I’m not getting that kind of money elsewhere. (Apart from Home Bargains. When they finally start looking for drivers I will be all over that.) If Royal Mail offered me full time I’d rip their hand off. As would all the tons of other agency drivers there. And that’s the problem. So, for now, just try and adjust my attitude.

In other news I got my bike fit done.

To be honest, I’ve been grafting in the wrong position for so long I’m struggling with the new one. The guy knows all, and I’m sure it’s the right thing to do, but I seem to have lost a lot of power for now. He said to do rides at 80% of power while I adjust. Other sporting good news is that my wetsuit finally arrived from America. The advert said it looked like new. It really does! It doesn’t look like it’s ever been used. It’s a good quality one and a good fit. And cheap. For. The. Win!

I’ve been doing some Duolingo again.

The Spanish are mad as a box of frogs. A temporary truth? In English we call it an “election pledge”.

Also, the app appears to be American as it’s driving Wendy mad with English translations (from French) in American. It wasn’t bothering me, until I saw this

EXCUSE ME!

I liked this quote in a book I’m reading.

Right, some Dinos and I’m out of here. I’ve ranted enough.

And it’s been a bit nippy lately.

OK, that’s actually a bison in -35F in Yellowstone National Park. But similar.

Stay safe,

Later,

Buck.

Personal Growth. I Hate It.

I am being sensible. Which is no fun and not playing to my strengths at all.

I was totally bored a few days ago and started looking on eBay. Just window shopping things for my triathlon training. But that is a slippery slope. You are looking at power meter pedals for the pushbike, when you make one small typo typing in “power meter pedals” and you accidentally type “Triumph Daytona 675” into the search box. Happens almost constantly, I find. That was it then. Full-on obsessive mode. It’s the same gorgeous three cylinder engine I had in the Street Triple, but with a proper riding position, fairings, and a real world first gear. The one on the Street Triple was just for pulling wheelies. Unfortunately it did it when you weren’t expecting it, so that was a bit… interesting.

Anyway. I was in full-on obsessive mode, thrashing the internet day and night, trying to find the best possible bike for the money. Because they were first introduced in 2006 (which I still keep thinking is brand new, but is actually 15 years ago) they have come down to merely expensive. Starting at slightly under £4K. I asked about and several companies would give me £1,800 for my bike in part exchange.

One came up two days ago. 2006, great condition, 26K miles (quite high for a bike, but Triumph actually make good bikes these days) and red. Red bikes are faster. Basic science.

Just look at it!

I wrote the email asking how we should proceed, was the shop in lockdown, could I ride down and swap bikes?

It’s in Leicester, which google says is 2 hours away. And the BBC weather say it’s going to be -1C until 14.00 tomorrow, so a bit brisk for the ride.

Then I started thinking it over. I’ve not ridden my motorbike in over 3 months. (Admittedly 6 weeks were due to a broken shoulder, but still.) I work 2 miles away, so I pushbike in. If I get a job where I have to commute my Honda, with it’s topbox and heated handgrips, is much more practical (putting a topbox on the Daytona would be a crime against humanity), and there’s nothing wrong with my Honda, apart from a poor MPG. But Honda or Triumph I wouldn’t be riding it to my current job, it’s too cold just to go for fun rides, and any time I have for said fun rides I should be training. So I’d be spending £2,000 on a pretty ornament I’d not be riding.

I sent a second email saying I’d changed my mind. Wendy thinks it’s maturity catching up with me. More likely it’s the promised easing with age of my BPD. Recklessness and spending sprees are genuine symptoms. And when you can combine the two by buying a motorbike, well, that is just good time management in my books.

In other news, I had my check up with the doctor at the hospital and he was well pleased. He said I had full mobility already. I didn’t know I was in danger of losing it. He showed me the xray and said the bone was growing back. Which also surprised me, as I thought it had already grown back. I asked for a 6 week hold on my shed delivery when I broke my shoulder, so I was expecting them to be coming any day. To that end in the last few days I’ve emptied my shed, which involved picking that dirty great engine up, then disassembled the shed and carried it around the front of the house on my own. I was a bit worried my shoulder might snap again, but there’s only one way to find out. I asked the doctor and he said as long as I don’t lift anything extreme it should only break if I jar it again. Cool.

I emailed the shed people to let them know. They’ve given me a provisional delivery date of the 22nd.

Of March.

Hahahaha.

Risked busting my shoulder for nothing.

The good news about that is it got me started on what was an overwhelming job. When I ordered the shed l was thinking “new big shed, yay”. As the delivery date approached (I thought) I was looking at a shed full of stuff to be cleared, a shed to be dismantled and got rid of, the garden to be cleared and the foundations to be dug and laid. It was huge. I was doing little bits of jobs to get me started. I told our Lisa what I was doing and she asked what I was doing with my old shed. I was going to put it on Freecycle so someone would take it away. It turns out Lisa’s shed had rotted and fallen to bits so she wanted it. That was easy. So today she arranged for someone with a huge van to come and collect it. I borrowed Wendy’s car for the day and did two tip runs to clear all the garden rubbish. On the first run I noticed they allowed rubble so I took 3 bulging bags of concrete lumps (including one whole bag of cement that had got wet in the shed and set). That’s a lot better. Lisa had her partner put new support beams under the shed then I went round and helped them rebuild it. I’m not even starting to dig the foundations until Monday when it’s supposed to be 8 or 9C. I had to use a pickaxe to get the rubble out of the frozen ground today. I’m not in a rush now. I can take my time, when the garden isn’t frozen, and dig out the base. I will need to get a ton of sand and gravel, but I’ve got a wheelbarrow, I can take my time with small loads. If I can carry those shed sections around I can manage a wheelbarrow.

The bad news with Lisa is her appointment didn’t cure her. They’ve just told her to gradually double her painkiller dose. It’s supposed to act as cushioning on her nerves or something. Not just to suppress the pain, but to actually help to heal it. I hope so. It sounds odd to me. And I’ve watched every episode of House MD, so I think I’m qualified to have a medical opinion.

I’ve got most of my triathlon kit now. I’ve ordered a secondhand wetsuit from America (read great reviews, but the company don’t ship to the UK so couldn’t buy new) and some wetsuit socks and gloves. If I can’t go to the pool I can try the lake. I’m really hopeful that video will teach me how to swim properly. And in the lake I won’t have to worry about other swimmers getting in my way. My wide fit cycling shoes have arrived. They don’t do half sizes. I think the bigger pair is slightly too big, but the smaller pair definitely feels too small. I’m going for a bike fit on Monday, he’s going to measure my feet, set up my shoes, fit the bike to me, and possibly change my saddle. By the end of it I’ll know which shoes I’m sending back for a refund. And hopefully be completely out of pain on the bike. If there is any pain after it’s properly set up it’s just something I will have to get used to.

I stumbled across a really entertaining podcast the other day, some guy who’d emailed Trainer Road purely to say thank you for their triathlon plan getting him to the level where he had qualified for the final race of the year of Ironman. (Everyone competes in regional races and the winners in each category, in each race, get to compete in the final race.) The guy had qualified at IM Bolton, by coincidence. What I took from it is that he genuinely believed that Trainer Road tri plan had got him to the final. (As a side note, the final is in Kona, Hawaii. It’s known for it’s strong winds. He got there two week before the race to practice, went out on his bike, got blown off and broke his shoulder.)

Then a few days ago my running twitter was alive with everyone talking about their applications for the London marathon. It’s not a race I’ve ever fancied. But them all banging on about it, “Ooh, I hope I’ve got in this year”, then everyone putting their rejection emails up, made it desirable. I’m very suggestible. Is it any wonder I took up smoking? Anyway, I went from “I don’t want to do London”, to “what’s a Good For Age time?” (GFA is where they give you a priority place because you’ve earned it) to “Right! I’m getting a GFA place in next year’s London marathon!” In the space of a few hours. The devil is in the detail. For my age group I have to run a 3.12 marathon (my PB is 3.30) on a certified course, before the 4th of October. I looked. Because of Covid all the marathons have been moved to later in the year. Liverpool, Blackpool, Manchester are all about the 10th, or so of October.

Then I spotted the Loch Ness marathon. Which is one I already quite fancied just because of the genius of the logo.

And it’s on the 3rd of October! Perfect. That gives me 7½ months to go from not having run properly in 5½ months to taking 18 minutes off my marathon PB! OH YES! This is the kind of stupid challenge I live for! An hour after booking the marathon we were booked into a holiday chalet for the week.

I tried my foot on a slow 2 mile run and it was sore-ish, but nothing to write home about. So, with new goals in mind I changed my training plan to a triathlon one (which will give me marathon training and long distance bike work) and set to. It seem to be one day on the bike, one day running and swimming. It’s just really light base building stuff at the minute, so the most I’ve done is 4 miles. I ran for 3 miles today and my foot seem totally fine. I’m really hoping that a gradual, structured, training plan will avoid it flaring up again. I would hate to waste 5½ months of rest from running. But I can’t wait any longer. I have to fulfill my long held (Monday) plan to run London.

I’m having all that “work” nonsense impinge on my training from next week. I was a bit doubtful about my chances. I’ve been off 6 weeks, the main Royal Mail depot has been all but closed as they convert it to an automated plant, and I’d have thought work would be dead, so any shifts going would have already been allocated to the regulars. Nope. 3 shifts already for next week. They might ask me to do more. That will pay the bills. In an ideal world I’d get a full time job out of it, but I was talking to a lad who said he’d been on the agency 12 years before he got taken on. There is another job I’ve got my eye on. I’m hoping when we are all vaccinated businesses will start to grow again and they will be recruiting. They are on really good money and they treat the workers really well. Fingers crossed.

Right, a bit of Twitter and I’m going to bed.

Dinos

Bozo carried on the slaughter.

Sir Keir once again showed us what “effective opposition” looks like.

The Tory propaganda wing (BBC) tried to say Evil EU Destroying British Business.

Other whimsy

And a rather splendid shot from a running twitter chum

Right.

Later,

Buck.

Blue Passports

Wendy casually asked if I’d still like to retire to Cornwall the other day. Being who I am that promoted the prospect from under the radar to most important thing ever that need to be resolved immediately. I started thrashing the internet, but it was instantly apparent that wasn’t happening. Even that houses that have got weird stuff in the walls and mining subsidence warnings so were ineligible for a mortgage were starting at £100K. And that would be cash.

I shifted my attention abroad. Relatives in Spain and Bulgaria seem to be doing fine. We could get a flat in Spain, or a mansion in Bulgaria. Yay! I was getting all excited, planning our best options. Then I thought I’d better see if Bozo had managed to finalise anything about Brexit. He has. Put the plebs right back in their place. The people who have already settled abroad can carry on as normal, us who would like to do the same can forget it. Now you have to apply for a long term visa, prove you’ve got €34K in savings, and pay for your own private healthcare. As a pensioner. Ha! This news following on the heels of someone trying to stop Bozo from scrapping holiday pay as he takes a blowtorch to worker’s rights and regulations. Super. Thanks Gammon Brexiteers.

I know a lot of younger people were misguided by the empty “Take Back Control” slogan and the “£350 million a week to the NHS” lies, but statistically it was pensioners who were most rabidly Brexit. I read that between the vote and the implementation so many of them had died that it wouldn’t have passed if it had been called then. I also know that all the people I know personally of that generation were Remain. (As far as I know.) The sad thing was there was little to get excited about the Remain campaign, but a vague, jingoistic, racist dog whistle of hope in Leave. There was a cartoon, a fat cat rich person with 19 cookies, pointing at the starving underclass person with one cookie and saying to the working class person “Look out, that immigrant is stealing your cookie”. Statistically though, it’s hard not to feel a tad bitter that another door has been slammed behind the Boomer generation. Affordable/ council housing, free education, student grants, a benefits system that worked, worker’s rights, the NHS, and now the right to work and retire abroad. Ho hum. I just wish there was some way to opt back in.

So that’s not happening. We are one month into Brexit and it’s already a disaster. The government have been advising companies to set up businesses in the EU to get around the restrictions that they have overseen. I say overseen, you can’t call saying “ner, ner, Johnny Foreigner, we’re not listening” negotiating.

But. Blue Passports.

Swings and roundabouts, innit?

In better news, several good things have happened. I got an email this morning saying the wide fit triathlon shoes I was after in December are finally back in stock. They only have one pair of each size ( I don’t suppose that many men with small, wide, feet who do triathlon) so I’ve bought two sizes. Whichever is wrong I’ll send back. I’m happy about that because this is the only stockist in the country. That’s why I’ve been waiting since December. When they arrive I can see about a proper bike fit, get the bike set up to my exact body size. Then I can get my body used to it, confident it’s the right position. If the pro bike fit place is open in lockdown. As soon as it is, then.

The other news, which is splendid beyond belief, is my swimming. I’ve really tried with this in the past and got nowhere. I was looking for coaching that wasn’t stupid expensive, no. I joined an improver class at the leisure centre and it was rubbish and no help. I joined a tri club and a swimming club but both just left me to figure it out for myself. Last night, in boredom, I started looking on youtube and stumbled across *another* video on “Five Common Mistakes” in your swimming. I’ve watched loads of these and they just don’t work (for me). This one is different. It’s like it was made for me. (Apart from the 5th mistake which I don’t think I do.)

And the brilliant thing is, it explains how to fix them. Properly! I was nodding along, and agreeing with every “if your doing it wrong this will happen”, and I understood and can do the fixes. For instance, high elbow. I’ve heard it before, but I thought that was just for the recovery arm, the one out of the water sweeping forwards. He shows you a simple drill that makes doing it wrong impossible. And losing power on a wasted stroke every time you breath. I’ve said about that before. One in four strokes are completely wasted, just flap about with no pull. Here’s the fix. Then not lifting your head to breathe, here are some great drills.

I am actually looking forward to the pools opening (and my shoulder being signed off as fit). If I can master the basics then I’ll be gliding along on the surface, my legs won’t sink with every breath, slowing me down, I’ll be on top of my breathing so can just keep going, and using my back muscles not just me feeble arms in a correct stroke. Less work, more speed.

With the realisation that sticking to a demanding training plan works (thanks Trainer Road) and a video that actually addresses all my swimming problems and fixes them, I could really be on for my sub 10 for next year!

Someone posted a twee but true thing the other day. “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” That’s where I was in the past. I thought if I just stuck at it somehow I’d get better. But same training in, same results out.

Trainer Road finally beat on Saturday. It was the same workout I just scraped through last week. 10 minutes at, or slightly under FTP, 1 minutes break, then another ten minutes. Times three. So an hour and a half workout, with an hour of it at FTP. Tough. This week though they added 4 spikes of 30 seconds at 110% FTP per 10 minute block. It doesn’t sound much but it floods your legs with lactic acid and overloads your breathing, then you have to try and continue at a smidge under your max. I made it to the final 10 minute section but I just couldn’t go on.

It’s the first one that’s beaten me. And proof they are not under training me.

They say that you should ride the bike leg of your triathlon (for me, with my goals) at 77% of FTP. That means keeping that power up for 5 hours 15 minutes. Yesterday Trainer Road set my long (2 hour) ride at 90% FTP for 3x 30 minutes! Small breaks in the 30 minutes mainly for psychological reasons, but still, 1½ hours at 90%. The second set looked easier, instead of one break after 15 minutes, they had 2 breaks after 10. Yay! Got to the break, 30 seconds. Thanks a lot. Fully refreshed now. It’s my rest day today, then a week of really easy, boring rides to refresh my legs for next week which is the start of the new training cycle FTP test. I should be able to raise the bar again on that. I checked it out and the last two cycles have been base fitness, next week I start a build phase. That sounds equally promising and terrifying. It doesn’t look that much different. I’ll have to see.

Lisa’s still not right. She thought she was well enough for work, but just hoovering and shopping put her back again. Her appointment with the specialist is only a few days away, hopefully they can fix her.

My shoulder is pretty good. Still a big lump, but I’m hoping it’s good enough. Assuming it’s OK, I have a few questions for the doctor. Is the join as strong as before? Will it snap if I lift weights, or just if I smack it again? Can I swim? As soon as I find those out I can crack on with a bunch of jobs.

Right, that’s it. Rant over. I was just miffed about Brexit and excited about fixing my swimming at last.

Later,

Buck.