Foo Fighters

Oh the irony: yes its over a year since Dave broke his leg and my one chance of seeing the Foos disappeared in front of my eyes and about 100million people on Youtube, but some things don’t get any less painful…

Speaking of painful, the shoulder operation has been an apparent success: I seem to have more movement with less pain so hopefully its going in the right direction. But I can tell you its not been a bowl of cherries – the immediate aftermath was pretty uncomfortable and lots of painkillers didn’t make a massive difference. The procedure is called Sub-Acromial Decompression which I’ve heard is referred to as SAD – and I can personally confirm this is an appropriate acronym!

But that’s all behind me now, with the exception of regular visits to the sadist that is the physio. Apparently what he does to me is all for my own good – I’m yet to  be convinced.

He did, however, say I could get back on the bike and for the last couple of weeks I’ve eased myself back into the saddle – yippee!! I can’t tell you how much I’d missed it. Certainly my waistline has too so that’s another reason for getting back to laying down the miles and burning the calories. You know it makes sense!

And it all coincided with the annual London to Brighton off-road event coming past my front door. I had hoped to participate this year and actually raise funds but obviously the surgery had put paid to that. But now I have another goal – to take part, finish and to raise some money for the British Hear Foundation who organise the whole thing.

I’ve got a whole year ahead of me to train and get ready and possibly tempt you all to donate a little towards my efforts. I promise I wont be overbearing about it!

And that leads me to this post’s tune: its all about Next Year!

Happy cycling (or whatever you’re doing!)

 

 

Curiosity Killed The Cat

It’s been a while since my last post (I’ll get to that shortly) but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out and about on the bike. I’ve also spent time looking at/following some other blogs and had some follows in return – so welcome to all those folks: I hope you like what you find here!

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I’ve had to give up on my intended participation in this years London to Brighton Off-Road event. After making it the full distance last year I was really looking forward to doing it and raising lots of cash for the British Heart Foundation

The reason is that I’ve got to have surgery on my shoulder that I landed on when I went over the handlebars of my bike. Yes, it was my embarrassing accident when I’d just bought the bike and made it all of 50yds before taking a spill…. After 18mths, X-rays, MRI scan and a steroid injection, they’ve told me that there is nothing else for it.

Subacromial impingement they call it: googling it mentions rotator cuffs and all sorts of things that I’ve only ever heard referred to with NFL quarterbacks! I’m sure they wouldnt have to wait that long…

So mid-June is when its planned and apparently I’m looking at three months rehab which blows my chances of training for the ride. I’m just keeping everything crossed that I can go out for some gentle rides over the summer or I’m going to a) feel cooped up and b) probably suffer an expanding waistline.

Neither is a great prospect eh?

So for now I’m enjoying the riding I can do and hoping to try some new routes over the next few weeks and then will have to keep my fingers crossed that I’m a quick healer!

And, if you’re of a mind, don’t let my non-participation stop you from making a donation – the BHF are a very worthy cause.

Now to the music – I was thinking of Chumbawamba (“I get knocked down but I get up again”) but I didn’t get knocked down as such. So Curiosity’s Down to Earth seemed more appropriate. Enjoy an 80’s belter, and Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot’s dancing! A classic!

 

 

Queen… or The Buggles?

A picture paints a thousand words, right? So after a year or so of writing all these lovely words (in my humble opinion of course) I saw some videos on line of people filming their exploits: bungee jumping; surfing; and cycling. Some of them were run of the mill, some of them pretty damn awesome.

And that reminded me of when I’ve been out on the bike and seen something that simply can’t be explained in a way that anyone listening will fully appreciate.

For example, last year I was in Richmond Park when I came across 3 deer blocking the path. I got to within 2 metres of the beasts with their massive (and scary!) antlers. They let me get that close! The deer then wandered off and I was free to carry on but I’d never normally try to get so close to them.

The trouble is that those words don’t convey just how amazing that experience was.

So, after seeing other people’s films and getting some money for Christmas, I decided to lash it all on a Gopro and use it to record my rides and maybe more. Now I’m not expecting to get a “You’ve Been Framed” moment on each and every ride – although getting just one, along with the £250 would be most welcome – but you never know what I might capture on film.

And if I get run over by a car it might be helpful to prove my undoubted innocence!

Last week, after spending much time trying to work out the instructions, I finally got out on the bike with the Gopro attached but realised that a 90minute ride isnt exactly the most riveting viewing. So I “edited”the footage into something slightly more interesting and I hope you find it a bit entertaining!

And you may notice I’ve set up a YouTube channel – please subscribe to keep up to date with anything I might upload!

 

And now for the music! Two songs came to mind so I thought I’d give you both! Enjoy.

Fleetwood Mac

Brrrr. Cold isn’t it?

Up till the last week or so we’ve been spoilt so far this winter in the UK, as its been quite mild weather compared to the average year. Unfortunately for some people this has brought lots of rain and flooding as I mentioned in my last post. Having had that happen two years ago in the area that I live I can certainly sympathise.

This weather has, as I said before, discouraged me from hitting the trails due to the mud and associated clean up that would be needed.

Now finally we’ve had a dry spell and tomorrow I’m hoping that I can finally get back out! Yippeeee!

Hang on a second though. Dry weather in winter = cold. And if you’re on a bike that means pretty damn cold. I’ve seen other guys out and about in the past couple of days and some of them look like they may as well be wearing a sleeping bag!

Needless to say, if it’s that cold then don’t expect me to be joining their ranks. That’s just too much commitment for me. I admire their spirit but I like central heating too much.

In preparation I’ve got a bit of a checklist prepared: winter gloves; lip salve; Buff snood (also very useful if you want to look like a pirate!!); and even tights (padded of course). I’m telling you: I’m not getting cold for no-one!

So there we are, I’m ready and set. All I need now is the opportunity and I’ll be off for my first ride of 2016. I’m feeling guilty that its been so long but can’t wait to burn some calories. My waistline needs to reduce. My heart, lungs and legs need a workout. And I need some endorphins. All in all its a no-brainer.

Just keep your fingers crossed for me that my motivation doesn’t desert me. Thanks!

Now for the tune: OK its called “Don’t Stop” but the next words are “thinking about tomorrow.” You see what I did there?

 

 

Frank Turner

Well hello there…. Been a while hasn’t it?

I can imagine that, just like a lot of other bloggers, I’m making something of the fact that it’s a new year and therefore its time to get back to the website. If that’s the case then I apologise for not being particularly original. But hey, at least I’m bringing you some good tunes to go with my thoughts!

And that links to my excuse for not having been particularly active over the last few months.

As my About page details, my blog is mainly about my cycling exploits (except for when I want a rant or two…!) and, frankly, since the last post there has been precious little cycling going on. I do have excuses: illness; work; pesky shorter days. All of those have played their part in the lack of miles recorded on my sat nav. In fact I seem to have stopped receiving automated reminders so I think even the app has given up on me!!

But one of the big factors has been the weather. I’m happy to own up as a fair-weather cyclist for a number of reasons. Whilst its actually quite good fun getting muddy I can assure you that it is no fun when you get home. Especially for the person who does the washing… (not me I’m afraid!).

Then there is cleaning of the bike itself.

None of which gives the greatest of incentives for getting out on two wheels. But with the excesses of Christmas behind me I reckon I’m going to have to bite that bullet to get the lungs working and the waistline reducing!

So wish me luck please – I’ll need the encouragement!

Now to the music – one of my favourite singer/songwriters here and, quite appropriately, his recent single regarding the aftermath of the 2014 floods which happened right around where I live. Enjoy!

 

PS – just a quick pic of me, Mrs D and my good mate Andy at Frank Turner’s recent Alexandra Palace gig!

IMG-20151126-WA0000

 

 

Elvis Costello

Just over two weeks on and I’m recovered, back on the bike and now in training for another event. Only 27 miles this time – childs play!!

If you fancy it, Evans Cycles RideIt! events are well worth having a go – they are well organised, good fun and give you 3 options to try: Short, Medium or Long/Epic. I’ve signed up for one around Basingstoke so it’ll be good to try somewhere I’ve never been before.

But now to today’s subject at hand. And its one of my pet peeves I’m afraid!

Folding bikes…. Bromptons…. Just wtf are they all about? I’m sorry, but they simply are not bikes. I can understand they have a use for commuters and, in doing so give us some good comedy value:

However, during my recent training runs I came across more and more people riding them off-road and, on occasion, attempting quite severe off-track climbs that you’d struggle to walk up!! Not only that but everyone riding them seemed to have some sort of fixed glazed smiling expression usually seen on the faces of hare krishna followers!

Is there some sort of endorphin-based high that you get when you have to pedal far too much because your ride has ridiculously small wheels?

But the final straw came during the Prudential Ride 100 when I saw this:

Grrrrrrrrrrrr……

Why does this all annoy me? I frankly have no idea! We all have our pet peeves, me maybe more than most. But I can safely say that you can include these “bikes” in my list!

Anyway, rant now over. I’ve gone public. Time for some music. Its a bit of a laboured connection but Brompton is next Chelsea – and I dont want to go to either…!

Lou Reed

I’m sure you’ve all been very concerned as I haven’t piped up since the big day of the ride. But fret no more – I made it and I survived!

Wow, what a day! It started early with a 5.30 alarm clock setting and then a trip to the start line to find that I was very far from the first….

Waiting to start - not nervous at all...!

Waiting to start – not nervous at all…!

It was pretty cold, especially that first mile or two before the legs got warmed up but there was company, a clear and quiet Richmond Park and Thames path and we cycled into the sun so you could feel the day warming up.

Pretty soon we were out into rural Surrey – and who knew there was an old airfield at Wisley? These are exactly the sort of things you find when you get off-road.

By this time I was already passing breakdowns and punctures so my fingers were firmly crossed.

Crossing fields, woodland paths with the sun coming through the trees, some hairy descents and some stiff climbs. We had them all as proven below:

IMAG1225

Across the North Downs

IMAG1231

Through the woods!

IMAG1232

It’s steeper than it looks, honest….

 

As proven by my expression...

As proven by my expression…

Now remember, the ride length was 75miles – not something to be underestimated. My level of mathematical genius allowed me to work out that an average of 10mph would mean a 7.5hr ride. But the climbs en route were something I’d never experienced before so would I be able to keep that pace? Or was I being over-ambitious?

Then I heard about Tourettes Hill…. The last hill before the finish is apparently nicknamed as such because it so damn steep. “It can’t be that bad” I thought. And my first words that I uttered when I saw it? “You’re f*@king joking…” which at least made two blokes having a rest chuckle.

And that explains the nickname Tourettes Hill…..

Then I got to the top and what a relief!

This way for a rest....

This way for a rest….

A welcome sight!

A welcome sight!

After that it was all down hill/level in to the finish and by that time I was good and ready to stop, as you can imagine. In the end I’d averaged just under 9mph so completed in around 8.5hrs (lack of precision due to my phone charge running out!) but I’m just pleased to have finished and got my medal. Here’s the proof:

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

image6

Where’s the chips??

I just wish I’d had the energy to stand in line for the massage because my legs were killing me the next day! Never mind, it was a great ride and I’m definitely doing it again next year.

Lots of thanks go to the British Heart Foundation and all the volunteers that manned the course that day: a bunch of stars!

All in all, a Perfect Day (well nearly….don’t get me started on the rugby)

Europe

Well its the most predictable of connections I suppose, but I’ve only got ten days left until the big day. Training is all but done, I’ve researched and got myself ready to carb-load ahead of the ride.

And then its time for the big ride!

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post (see Journey) its going to be a stern test and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m pretty much cacking myself! I’m aiming for success but preparing for defeat and will at least have the benefit of my support team (aka the missus…!) to greet me in Hove or wherever I may end up on the day.

So keep your fingers crossed for me, both for good weather and good luck, and wherever you are on 26th September, take a moment to think that myself and hundreds of other poor fools will be somewhere between London and Brighton in the woods getting knackered but all for a good cause!

Now get the hairspray and air-guitar ready…..

Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine

Phew – its been a while hasn’t it?  Damn and blast that pesky job that gets in the way…

Well I thought its about time for me to put down some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind whilst I’ve been out on the trails over the past few weeks. I thought I’d start with what I think is quite an interesting (and even controversial) one… Stay tuned for the controversy!

I’ve used various apps whilst cycling over the last few years: they can help you to know how far you’ve travelled, your time and, thereafter, how you’re improving (or not). However, I found it had one unexpected benefit in that I realised how I think I might perform. And that, my friends, is summed up in one word: cadence.

In its simplest terms it’s the speed that your legs turn the pedals and whilst this might seem easy to regulate, you’d be surprised at how the slightest of up-slope will slow your cadence or a slight downslope might find your legs going crazy mental. So the challenge is to keep your legs going at the same rate regardless of the terrain. And that’s where all those cogs at the front and back come in useful – learning how to select the gear you want takes time and practice.

The front gear gives a big jump up or down for when you need easier pedalling or when you can cope with giving it more effort. Or when you need a dramatic change in a hurry. The back gears give smaller adjustments that can finesse your efforts.

Now for the controversy…

As with any exercise there are two methods of performance: muscle-based and cardiovascular. (Any students of sports science, please forgive me if I’m using the wrong terminology!) I’ve never been one for going down the muscle-building route and find that my fitness level is probably determined more by my cardio fitness. And that ‘s where the cadence approach works for me.

But there is one other person who really demonstrated how the cardio approach worked: Lance Armstrong. (boo! hiss!)

Armstrong lost a huge amount of muscle during his cancer treatment and would never have been able to get back to a professional level (even though he wasn’t a great cyclist) but with the aid of Michele Ferrari, he embarked on using cardiovascular strength instead. Ferrari’s input was the doping that allowed his system to outperform to a far higher degree but the starting point was the fact that he relied more on one part of his body than the other.

If you’re interested, Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh is a fascinating read and also gives you the full background to the deception that went on.

(In case the lawyers are watching, I’m basing all of the above on Walsh’s book so if I’m wrong, it’s his fault!)

But I digress. The point at the outset was to highlight that there’s more than one way to improve your performance: I’ve found mine in terms of finding the right cadence and trying to keep to that when I’m riding. It seems to work….

Now its tune time! You’ve missed this I’m sure…. O-way o-way!!!!

Cameo

Have you ever seen something and thought “I wonder if there is a word for that?” Most everything you will ever come across has a name or title so if you find something that doesn’t have a name then I reckon its your duty to try to get it named and recognised as such. Well, duty makes it sound a bit serious, but imagine if you were the very first person to use the word ‘selfie’ – you’d be pretty chuffed with yourself wouldn’t you?

So on this note I reckon I’ve got one! Now not all of you will immediately recognise what I’m talking about as its reasonably specific but picture this: you’re on a path next to a river, stream or canal and you come across a patch of damp ground with no discernible cause. Its not a puddle and its not raining. So what is it? What caused it?

Well it could be a dogsplosh.”

Shortly afterwards you come across the culprit which is:

VIDEO0070_0000008994

This is how it happens:

VIDEO0069_0000003447~3

And this is the result:

IMAG1091

DOGSPLOSH!!

Now this might seem pretty trivial but I reckon I should launch a campaign to get this phenomenon into the dictionary. What dictionary I’m not sure: Collins? Oxford? Urban? I’m thinking the last of these probably is a bit “street” to be bothered with this but why not go for one of the others? I may as well set my sights high eh?

And there are other things that can add context and colour to the term of dogsplosh. First, there is the faux-dogsplosh:

IMAG0863

Now this might look like a dogsplosh but don’t be fooled. Firstly there is no obvious spot for a dog to be jumping in and out of the canal. Secondly, there is no single spot where the ground is any wetter than the surrounds. And finally, it goes on too far – it would have had to be a very big and very wet dog to soak that amount of ground! No, this is damp ground due to the adjacent plants.

This is the sort of thing that can catch out the unwary dogsplosh-spotter!

In some areas, the powers-that-be have tried to install anti-dogsplosh measures. Take a look at this:

IMAG0918On the face of it you might think that it is a barrier to prevent erosion of the riverbank. But it could just as easily be due to “the man” trying to prevent our beloved pets from dogsploshing…. In my humble opinion I think it is actually a good idea as it leads to your canine friend having more fun jumping over barriers, therefore maintaining its fitness better and what dog doesn’t like jumping over things??!

So there you have it: I think I’ve found something that doesn’t have a name and feel compelled to give it one. Do you agree? Do you like the name? Let me know and, if I get enough feedback I could set up a Facebook group or maybe a page on change.org, or organise some sort of fundraising event to publicise the cause and rectify this glaring omission from modern life. (My tongue might be in firmly in my cheek here….)

I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts…..

Now for the music. There was only one possible tune here I reckon: