A long goodbye

I wonder what the other guys are thinking right now?  I bet they’re excitedly making their final preparations for the RAID and nervously thinking about what lies ahead in the Pyrenees.

Instead of all that, I’m sitting here with a feeling of guilt and despair about leaving my lovely young family for a week.  It’s been brewing a while but this aching feeling in the pit of my stomach has grown exponentially in the last 48 hours after my youngest broke her collar bone.

The Wounded Daughter

The Wounded Daughter

She’s a lively little 3 year old but this freak injury occurred when she fell out of bed a couple of nights ago.  After a mis-diagnosis of bruising and eventually a drawn out afternoon in the fracture clinic, I could have cried when I found out she had broken one of her little bones.  The pain comes in waves (usually linked to Calpol withdrawal symptoms) and she has been very brave by trying to carry on with all the normal things.

So, if leaving my family for a week for a stupid bike ride hadn’t felt bad enough, it feels pretty shitty right now.

But, the Land Rover is fully loaded and should soon be arriving on French shores with Dave and Terry.  The flights are booked and we leave tomorrow morning (with an emotional goodbye that doesn’t bare thinking about) and all the plans are firmly set.  It’s just as well that there is no getting out of it now because I can’t begin to think what was going through my mind 9 months ago when I set the wheels in motion for this thing.

It’d better be an epic adventure full of heroic tales that I can share with the girls when I come home.

What’s the RAID Pyrénéen?

It’s this years big cycling thing is what it is.  And its just a few days away.

Here’s the challenge:

  • 720km of cycling
  • 18 cols (mountain peaks)
  • 11000 metres of elevation
  • Completed in 100 hours
I think this goes on the bike...

I think this goes on the bike…

On 1 September, myself and three mates will take on a cycling challenge bigger than anything any of us have done before.  Supported by two cycling mad retired friends who’ll be testing themselves on some of the cols, we’ll leave the Atlantic town of Hendaye to cross the Pyrenees to Cerbere on the Mediterranean Spanish border.

After overcoming things like bruised ribs after a mass pile up on the annual ride to Skegness, saddle sores after training in Portugal and self inflicted BMX injuries our little team is about as ready as it can be to set off on this epic journey.

The Carnet

The Carnet

Yesterday the “Carnet de Route” turned up from Cyclo Club Béarnaise, the French cycling club that administers the certification of the challenge, and to use the words of Dickie (one of my team mates) – this shit just got real!

The now frantic final preparations are almost complete (anyone got some spare brake blocks??) and we’re set to pack up and head off over the weekend so nerves are starting to creep in.  I think we all feel like we are winging it a bit because none of us have done anything like it before: How much food do we need to take? What contingency supplies do we need? How long will 100 miles in the mountains actually take?

I’ve got a million unanswered questions and only 4 days before I start to find out the answers.  If I have the energy and the WIFI I’ll update this blog as I go along.  If not, there will be an epic update in a week or so!

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

No BMX Bandit

Last Sunday we had my daughters birthday party at a local BMX track.

She’s been desperate to have her party there since we took the bikes up for a play a few times and it turned out to be one of the best birthday parties we’ve done.  The track is run by Huncote Hornets BMX club and their British Cycling qualified coach hosts the event.

Jan makes sure that the kids are safe and confident in what they’re doing whilst using the speakers and gates he’d normally utilise for competitions.  The kids jumped out of their skins when he first pressed “Go” and the pneumatic gate flew down with a crash in front of them, but it wasn’t long before they were racing around the cinder and tarmac track.

Birthday BMX Bandit

Birthday BMX Bandit

The bikes and helmets are all provided to the kids (if you want them) so my daughter and her cousin got all kitted up whilst others remained more confident on their own bikes for the session.  The little ones were allowed a go on their balance bikes before everyone grabbed a homemade picnic in the shelter of the cargo container that doubles as clubhouse and shed!

Taking the opportunity of a quiet time on the track, I grabbed a bike & helmet out of the shed with a few things running through my mind:

  1. The track record is 14 seconds
  2. The kids had been going round in 35 seconds (I had to beat that right?)
  3. Jan’s words of warning “the bikes are quite twitchy”
  4. An image of myself flying over the jumps, throwing some shapes and whizzing around the track

As the barrier went down, me and my mate Dan flew down the ramp.  All of a sudden my cadence was faster than I had expected and I was at the bottom of the first M-shaped kicker. In that instant I realised I didn’t know how to jump a BMX (I might have had a chance 25 years ago!!) and the indecision about what to do resulted in something spectacular! It’s been described as an airborne cartwheel on a bike.  And it hurt!

Wounded

Wounded

I ended up scraping my hands, knees and elbows whilst giving my shoulder, back and knee a battering in the heavy landing.  My daughter was first on the scene and handed me my bike and in true hero form, I grabbed it and finished my lap, then steadily started another two before taking stock of the bloody injuries!

So, as always, last Saturday was a school day.  Here’s what I learnt:

  • BMX racing is great fun – all the kids loved it and some have even begun the search for bikes and helmets!
  • 25 years is a long time off a BMX and they’re not like road or mountain bikes!
  • Safety advice is useful: all the kids were instructed to wear helmets & gloves and to keep their arms & legs covered (I ignored this)
  • As you get older, injuries develop slower – it was 48hrs before my knee swelled up and 72hrs before the real pain started in my back!
  • Huncote Hornets have got something exciting going on so we’re off to the club night to see how we get on…
Huncote Hornets

Huncote Hornets

Not a Race Report: London to Brighton, Fathers Day 2014

“I want to do a challenge this year”

“OK, sweetheart.  What do you fancy?”

“Not sure yet”

<2 days later>

“I’ve found it” (sobbing)

“Found what?”

“The Challenge” (sob)

“Ok… err, are you OK?”

“It’s London to Brighton, for the British Heart Foundation. I want to do it for you in memory of your Dad. On Fathers Day”

<Sob>

<Sob>

So that’s how it started over Christmas.  Since then, Mrs G has got a bike and the necessary kit. She’s trained hard every week since she anxiously signed up to this years ride.  She’s been soaked out in the pouring rain and been sunburnt by early morning rays.  And today she did it. And she raised hundreds of pounds. And she’s great!

But Clare can tell the story about what is was like for her.  I’ll write about what it was like for me.

My special wife has honoured the memory of my Dad in a very special way today.  Not only has she dedicated herself to an extremely stretching physical challenge.  She’s completed that challenge in a way that would do him proud.  Working hard.  Never giving up. Doing it with a smile on her face. But it’s about more than that.

As a family, we live a long way apart.  We’re 180 miles from my Mum and 130 miles away from my sister and we don’t see enough of each other.

But today my Mum enjoyed spending time looking after my kids.  My sisters house was close enough for me to drop around unexpectedly. I spent an hour driving with my niece and nephew, chatting and laughing the whole way. We all spent a morning together enjoying each others relaxed and easy company in a way that was entirely natural.  But that all happens far too seldom.

Today my wife was the focal point and she wanted to do something to celebrate our memory of my Dad.  We are all incredibly proud of her.  But rather than viewing today as an exercise in remembering my Dad I see it differently.

Today was a day when we lived life the way my Dad would be proud of – and Clare made that happen.  So this Fathers Day I’m not looking back at what I lost 20 years ago when my Dad passed away.  I’m looking forward.  I need to do more of what  he and Clare conspired to help me gain today. Maybe I need to behave a bit more like he would and work harder at pulling our family as close together as possible.  We should do more of this casual family stuff, it’s good.

Thanks Mrs G

Mr & Mrs G

Mr & Mrs G

The blog of a bike maintenance failure

My new bike has Easton RT90 wheels on and a pair of huge 28mm tyres which I’m finding comfy but sluggish so, when I received my new Conti GP4000 tyres through the post a few days ago, I was eager to put them on my bike.

New Conti Rubber

New Conti Rubber

Setting off in to my cluttered garage I got ready to start work and dug out my handy little tyre levers after popping open a bottle of beer. I swiftly (but carefully) took the wheels off and sat down on an old dining chair to set to work.

And then I ran in to a problem.

The tyres wouldn’t come off. I couldn’t get any purchase on them to get the hooky part of the lever under the tyre. After about 20 frustrating minutes I decided You Tube was the answer having concluded that the tyres must be tubeless and stuck on.

Clearly I am one of the few people to have ever had trouble getting tubeless tyres off a road bike (are they stuck on??) as not even You Tube – the worlds second biggest search engine – had the answer.

Determinedly returning to my task I grabbed another cold beer and went back in to my humid garage. There was still not shifting them. The best I could do was get two tyre levers engaged at different ends of the wheel but couldn’t get the tyre off. In frustrated defeat I retired for the night, prowling the depths of You Tube to find a solution and ruing the loss of two tyre levers that has expired for the cause.

The Offending Articles

The Offending Articles

After cursing the invention of tubeless tyres whilst reading through countless accolades, I decided to take the offending items to my trusty local bike shop.

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Within 30 seconds the guy at the shop had frowned, mumbled something, fiddled with a tyre lever and released the first tyre from the wheel. It turns out that they’re just normal clinchers with tubes in so no glue, no new techniques needed, just good old technique and common sense …. both of which I am lacking in abundance. Then it was my turn to mumble something, buy a new set of tyre levers (to justify the trip) and scuttle out in embarrassment.

My New Tyre Levers

My New Tyre Levers

After kicking and cursing myself, but before closing the boot of the car, I had taken the tyre off the other wheel and drove back wondering what kind of meltdown I must have been having on Tuesday evening to get in such a pickle.

Just another one to add to the list of practical failures…..

A Hole

I’ve just realised that it was about a month between blog posts.  That’s a long time and let me tell you why.

The Post-Marathon Hole

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve loved life since the marathon (other than the ongoing will-it, won’t-it concern over one precarious looking toe nail).  No, I’ve had a great time and felt like there was almost a new found freedom.

But there was also a hole.  A gap left by something that had been a huge part of my live, both emotionally and physically, for six months.

I’ve not felt miserable but felt that something had gone.  Like something was missing.

And that is nuts considering that I’ve had brilliant evenings and weekends with my family.  Enjoying their company and (sometimes) them enjoying mine too.

I’ve had little enthusiasm for training up until a couple of weeks ago.  The concept of crawling out of bed at 5.30 to go for a run is so far removed from my mind that it’s like I never did it before the marathon.

Maybe it’s a bit of healing.  Over the weeks since the marathon I have had unexplained knee pains (not starting until 5 days after the race) and pains in my shoulder (come and gone in the space of a week) and I’ve taken these as signs of my body still healing from that amazing effort it produced in April.

It’s almost like grieving too.  You know that feeling when you’re not sad all the time but just a little down from time to time when you least expect it?  When sitting daydreaming is a better option that getting up and doing something?  It’s not like me to behave like that and I think I’m through it, but it was a little strange.

Call it post-marathon blues.  Or to continue to use the Shed Seven theme and call it A Hole.  I’m out of it now.  I’ve got a new bike, rode to Skegness again at the weekend, the big cycling trip of the year is planned and I continue to be inspired by Mrs G’s efforts in training for her London to Brighton challenge.

It’ll be summer soon.  That should bring warmer bike rides, brighter evenings, some French cycling and hopefully Mont Ventoux before the RAID in September.  

If that little lot can’t get you out of a motivational hole, nothing can!

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning a new relationship

It’s difficult isn’t it?  As one relationship cools off another one inevitably begins.

Everyone has experienced those sombre feelings when what you once had becomes something less to talk about and more something to endure.  Then you start looking around and you wonder how and why other people have got the relationships that seem to be so much better than yours.

Well, it’s happened to me too.  For  a while now, I’ve lusted elsewhere.  Often, my head has been turned whilst out and about but this weekend it finally happened.  Our partnership that was once so strong was finally severed.  I didn’t intend it to happen but we were out with some friends and they were all talking about how happy they were with their (mostly new) partners and it galvanised me to act.

Temptation is everywhere and as soon as I’d decided to do something about my nagging dissatisfaction, things were moving fast.  Faster than I thought.

We met on Saturday night for the first time and I knew pretty much instantly that I had found what I was looking for.  My mind was doing overtime.  I don’t think I’d ever seen a beauty so stunning.

On Monday I made my move and unbelievably by Tuesday we were heading back to my place.  We didn’t do much that first night.  Just played a bit and got to know each other.  Exploring everything for the first time was so exciting that I couldn’t settle down at the end of the night and sat dreaming about what the next day would bring.

So yesterday on a warm, sunny evening I proudly introduced my new partner to some friends.  They seemed quietly impressed and kept checking in to see how we were getting on together.  I told them that everything seemed comfortable and was going smoothly, of course there were some differences to what I was used to but on the whole that first evening out with friends was exhilarating. It really feels like I am on to a good thing.

So I have no regrets from moving on so quickly and decisively.  We had some good times together and our trip to Paris will always be special to me, but times change.

Let’s face it, I’d had my old bike for 4 years and it didn’t owe me anything so splashing out on a lovely BMC Granfondo GF01 with full Ultegra gears and a frame lighter than an XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger seems perfectly reasonable to me!

So it’s au revoir  to the Boardman and bonjour ma cherie to the BMC.  Let the good times roll!!

Keep your eyes off.  She's mine!

Keep your eyes off. She’s mine!