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

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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!

Just a cool place: Rapha Cycle Club, London

I had a couple of spare hours in London today between meetings so went on the search for a cafe with WIFI to grab a coffee and get some work done.

The only place to head for in these situations is the Rapha Cycle Club on Brewer Street.  It has to be the coolest cafe in the country!

The cafe itself has been refurbished since I went last year.  They’ve preserved the wooden floor and basic furniture but created a little more space without compromising the boutique area devoted to selling the excellent (but pricey) Rapha kit.  As you walk in you know this is the real thing from the customers bikes hanging on the vertical racks by the door and the enthusiastic nature of conversations between customers and staff.

My window seat and some light reading

My window seat and some light reading

Recommended the filter coffee (which was good) I grabbed a window seat to log on to the laptop.  Even the WIFI code is cool – named after Il Pirata himself!  Being surrounded by like minded cyclists taking in the atmosphere was a really conducive work environment and I flew through a few days backlog of emails. If I hadn’t been so busy there would have been plenty to occupy me.  The hum of the espresso machine and general cycling chatter were accompanied by the live TV commentary of todays Volta a Catalunya. My window seat was furnished with a number of cycling related books and other tables were littered with the latest copies of Rouleur and other cycling magazines.

If you’re an avid cyclist like me, the entire ambience of the place is an ideal space to spend an hour next time you’re passing through.  I recommend the filter coffee (even the coffee cups are cool)….

Not the sort of bonk you want …

Check out how smug I was in my last post where I was bragging about how I’d done so well losing weight since the turn of the year!  Well, I learnt a good lesson about dieting and training on Saturday morning.

I was delighted to get out on the bikes with my mate Stu who I cycled to France with.  He’s had a number of injuries over the last 12 months but seems to be on the mend so I hope he’ll be out with us more often this year.  We had a good chat and some banter around the first 27 miles of our route, then Stuey sensed the end was in sight and picked the pace up a little.

In normal circumstances I find the last 8 mile run-in on this route a good blast. It’s largely downhill from a beautiful village called Bitteswell, along quiet country lanes in the Leicestershire countryside.  Anyway, on Saturday I wasn’t so keen.

As soon as I had to start working harder, I found there was nothing in the tank. My quads felt heavy and ached to the point of exhaustion as I tailed behind Stu who was holding a 19-20 mph pace.  As soon as we hit the solitary incline on the run home I dropped way back despite pushing as much as I could.  The rest of the way home was just a case of keeping the wheels spinning and reserving some strength for Sundays 12 mile run.

Now, I do suffer from bad days from time to time and I am conscious that form and fitness only come along with hard work and dedication.  But this felt like something different and it didn’t take much analysis to work out what was going on.

I think I bonked.

Bonking is a “technical” cycling term relating to the point when you’ve got no energy left to draw on in your body.  Chris Froome was in danger of doing it in last years Tour de France and suffered a 20 second penalty when he got a late energy gel from the ever-loyal Richie Porte.  I’m not saying that the situation coming in to Sapcote was anything like the one Team Sky endured on l’Alpe d’Huez, but I do think I bonked!

A picture from the BBC showing Froome and Porte

Looking at what I ate on Friday helps explain.  With a total intake of around 1500 calories I hadn’t fuelled up for the ride which burnt 1200 calories in itself.  The tank was well and truly empty!

On rides of that distance I don’t bother with snacks but could’ve murdered a banana just to get some strength back.  As soon as I got home I started steadily carb loading with some macaroni cheese for lunch and a pasta dish for dinner.  I think I just about got enough in to cope with the 12 mile run on Sunday, but won’t be risking the same situation happening again.

So, lesson learned: In place of my daily tuna salad I’ll be having a pasta salad on Fridays from now on, with a proper carb balanced dinner in the evening. That’s about the best I think I can do to prevent any unwanted bonking in the future but I’m open to other suggestions?…

A Little Wet One

The logic is this:  Run in the winter because cycling when the weather is bad can be rubbish.

Now that marathon training us well underway I am running twice each weekend (unless Saturday is good in which case I’ll take the chance for a ride).  So I’ve applied new logic too: If it looks like bad weather on both Saturday and Sunday, embrace it and go trail running on the Saturday.

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Sounds good in theory, but lessons I learned this week include:

  • Running across fields and slipping all over the place doesn’t really replicate a road run
  • Slipping can be dangerous
  • Pay attention to the telly when it says there is flooding everywhere
  • Wading through 15 inches of flood water is not great training
  • Have the kettle ready to go … it’s pretty grim out there!

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It was a character building run on Saturday but I twisted my knee a little while running through a swamp!  Subsequently, Sundays 10 mile run was a little disappointing.  I suppose there’ll be plenty of good and bad training runs before April. Let’s hope this running lark gets a bit more fruitful in the next few weeks!

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