Category: Uncategorized

Three Bikes and Work.

My cunning plan to sell my old bike to pay for the new one hasn’t paid off yet. I suppose I’m the only idiot who buys motorbikes in the middle of winter in a lockdown. It didn’t sell on th’ebay, and after I’d listed it I realised they want 10% of your selling fee for listing it! Say, £240 to sell your bike! I’ve put it on Autotrader for 6 weeks for £32. And Gumtree for free. I put it through the MOT without a problem, but then had to cancel the insurance on it to transfer my no claims bonus to the new bike. I’ve moved my old bike into the garden and moved my new one round the front. Now I’ve just got to wait for lockddown to ease and the weather to warm so the old one will sell.

I took the new one out for a quick blast as it was unseasonably mild and sunny the other day.

It’s not the prettiest of bikes, but it’s amazingly capable. I’ve taken the boxes off the back until I need them, you just unlock them and press a button and they lift off. I did a dry run loading the boxes. I can fit my proper boots, bike leather and layers in the side boxes, my lid and waterproofs in the top box. I am set! Roll on my first marathon in May. That’s down in Milton Keynes so it will be a good test. It does the luggage thing, it seems economical and comfortable. There is great wind protection so it’s not noisy. And it is a hoot! Unlike it’s engine donor bike, the banzai Fireblade, you don’t feel you should be winding it up all the time and getting peak performance near the red. This is especially frustrating as second gear is good for 90, so you thrash through two gears then have to back off the fun or lose your license. This one doesn’t need winding up. Whatever gear you are in you can just open the throttle and the acceleration will sit you back in the saddle. I was on a twisty country lane, patiently sat behind two cars, there was a small straight so I pulled out and opened it up. The bike just exploded past them like they were in reverse. It took a lot of the fun out of it, in a way. I can’t wait to ride it properly.

My third bike from the title is my triathlon pushbike. All I wanted to do was tighten the gear shifter thing in the end of the handlebars. I took the shifter off, tightened the nut, put the shifter back on, the gears had gone really stiff. Took it off. Reassembled it. Nope. Looked it up on the internet, tried again. No. I finally got the shifter working but suddenly it felt like I had an extra few inches of cable. I’d lost all tension in the gear cable. I have no idea how. Both ends of the cable remained fixed at all times, yet suddenly the cable is totally slack. Lots of head scratching. I took it apart several more times. Somehow I got tension back but the gears shifters were stiff again. Then the cable on the other gear shifter, which I hadn’t even touched, went slack. Enough. I know when I’m beaten. When the laws of physics cease to apply I give in and take it to the bike shop. I took it in this morning.

I’ve been having a clear out. I realised I had tons of bike stuff that I’m never going to use. I was just going to shove it in bags and throw it in the shed, when that finally gets here, but then I wondered why. It’s not stuff I’m ever going to use. The road gear shifters which I’ve taken off for triathlon bar end shifters, cycling shoes that I bought that were supposed to be wide fit, but weren’t. Workshop manuals for a bunch of bikes I’ve sold. Rather than hoarding it all I decided to sell it. I didn’t know how much to put the gear shifters on sale for, ebay suggested £35 so I went with it. They sold for £163! That bike really was a bargain. It turns out just the gear shifters are £280- 350 new!

I’m happy with that. Of the 12 items listed only 3 didn’t sell. Most of them were a tenner or so, but I’ve cleared some room and made some money. It’s all good.

I’ve finally dug out the base for the shed. It should have been a lot easier but I’ve been hampered by the sabotaging of moronic younger me. I’ve been cursing him steadily. The amount of plastic, metal, plant pots, basically anything I couldn’t be bothered to take to the tip or throw in the bin, that has been stashed behind the shed! And so much rubble. Young me threw it all behind the shed. Then threw all garden waste on top. Eventually it formed a decent compost, layered through with every kind of rubbish. Which has meant digging it out has involved pulling out sheets of plastic, digging around logs, sorting half rotted plastic bag bits out of the soil and separating all the lumps of concrete. It’s taken forever. If I ever meet young me he’s getting such a punch.

Dug now. Then I started trying to flatten it out and realised there is a 2′ wide stretch that runs across it that is pure mud. You tamp it down and it oozes mud. In the end I used all three bags of rubble I’ve not yet taken to the tip to firm it up. It just kept sucking the rubble under the mud. I think I’ve done enough for now. Now I need to tie some string around some sticks, make sure the string is flat with a spirit level, roughly level the dirt, put down the ground sheet, then it’s get the sand down, the plastic tile things, the gravel, and then collapse. I’ve still got 3 weeks or so, so I can pace myself.

Work have ruined my decadent 3 days a week lifestyle by putting me on 4 days for two weeks. This is good as I’ve just found out that because I’ve only worked for 8 of the last 14 weeks, I’ve not qualified for the 12 weeks pay parity. Instead of the £17.54 I’ve been on it has gone down to £12 p/h for the next 4 weeks.

I was looking at the pay chart for Royal Mail and getting a bit miffed. Overtime, £2.50 extra an hour? No Bank Holiday pay? 6th Shift at standard overtime rate? No paid breaks?

At Booker it was time and a third for overtime, time and three quarters for 6th shift, double time and day in lieu for Bank Holidays, paid breaks.

Then I did the maths. Time and a third, or time and three quarters is all about working over your 45 hours, and it’s multiples of £12.57. For a flat week of 45 hours Booker was £565 (with paid breaks), Royal Mail would be £700 (after stopping 5 hours breaks). Oh. Right. Fair enough. Not that I can see myself getting taken on any time soon. There are tons of agency workers before me in the queue, and Royal Mail is dead man’s shoes.

But if I can get 4 shifts for now, then 5, then all the hours I want in peak period, it could comfortably pay the bills. And if the only other company who pay like this (Home Bargains) advertise, I can have a go at that.

I was talking to Lisa about it. She’s on flat rate £8 p/h even if she works Christmas Day. That is criminal. Not that she is working right now. She’s still off with sciatica.

Lisa has a vent pipe from her tumble dryer that she puts out the kitchen window. To do that she has to hop on to the table. She fell off and has broken two toes on her good foot! Oh Lisa! I told her to get her son to do it, he’s young and is used to hospitals from his brief career as a biker.

Wendy is still poorly ill. There’s no signs of the pills kicking in any time soon. Poor sausage. She’s worried that if she doesn’t get back to work they could sack her. I don’t think there’s any danger of that, but personally I’m not sure that would be a bad thing. If she wasn’t working there it would give her the stimulus to try something else. While I was working at Booker I kept looking but I doubt I’d have ever left. Wendy’s the same but more so. Seeing only the people who’s plans have crashed and burned, non-stop, every day, has made her a bit negative and very cautious. She is scared to leave a steady job, however bad it is for her. You can’t put a price on sanity and mental health. I’d prefer her to be a happy lollipop lady than a loony debt advisor. It’s just not worth it.

Right, some Dino’s and bedtime.

First though, our hero, the human rights lawyer, people’s champion, the saviour of the Labour Party, Sir Keir:

Later,

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.