Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Smooth(ie) Operator

There were no after effects after a tentative 2 mile outing yesterday and I added 4 miles today at noon in the warm sun. It was all good. It's the first bit of running I've done for 10 days and is a welcome alternative to the bike. Just round the block, you understand. Somedays, it's a bit of a bind to clack around the house in my shoes and plates rounding up my gear and various accessories.  I like the idea of alternating between running and cycling.
Anyway, summers here at last. Anybody else wondering where all our swallows have gone...? 
Galvanised by my new fad, a morning smoothie, I made my cycling time trial debut last weekend on the Sedgefield course in Durham. The course is an out and back dual carriageway affair. I have driven past it for years on my way to and from Teesside and it has never struck me as being that flat....and it was no different on a bike. In a modest field, I was Number 7 and was off just after 2pm. Number 4 was a woman riding for Swift.  Number 5 was a big bloke with all the kit riding for the police cycling club. However, at the start he got into all sorts of dramas as his chain came off 30 seconds before the off and he eventually pulled away half a minute late. This must have disturbed Number 6 who had barely time to get himself settled before he was dispatched. I watched this unfold in front of me, unruffled.
I was keen to do a sub-26. The conditions were reasonable but there seemed a wind creeping around. I couldnt quite establish in my warm-up what direction it was blowing. Regardless, I was counted down and was sent on my way and shortly after getting onto the dual carriageway I saw Number 4 pulling off the course. She looked like she'd had a mechanical.
Within 3 miles I caught Number 5. I then swallowed up Number 6. Passing riders ahead of you is always good for morale. However, having completed 5 races this year, I am under no illusions about my own ability - you just pass the slower riders and crack on. After 8 miles I heard the whirr of a disc wheel and number 8 came past. I was steaming up again in my own shades, but the drip-drip-drip of sweat from my cap never materialised. Was I not trying hard enough?
The return leg of the race involved a slow uphill drag and that, combined with a cool headwind and heavy sky made it a proper battle in the last 2 miles. Remarking to myself on a little taste of sick in the final mile, I tried in vain to stay in touch with Number 8 and finished in 25:22.
In a field of 47 and with 40 odd faster riders in front, I left before the presentation. I did have time for a chat with Number 4. She used to run 35 minute 10k's. I also took advantage of the tea and cake facilities at Cedarfield Hall, the race HQ.
I havent seen the results yet.
On my return Aunt Aggie demanded all the details and after digesting the data, has made it clear in no uncertain terms that I need to get hold of a disc wheel and skinsuit so that I can creep up on riders and whirr whirr them into submission. Maybe she's right.  Maybe she's nuts.
June sees me at Thirsk and Newton Mearns, continuing my quest to shave seconds off a two wheeled crusade that means nothing much to anyone in particular.  The good news is that I have pushed the smoothie boundaries from one to two a day and I'm now fully enjoying the fruits of my labours (get it...fruits, smoothies, yeh...maybe I'll just get my coat).

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Inna me khaki suit an' ting

I making good progress through 'Red Platoon'. Its subtitled '12 hours in hell', a story about the over-running of the Keating military base in Afghanistan.  Having recently finished Andy McNabs 'Bravo Two Zero' and 'Line of Fire' I have immersed myself of late in books with a military flavour. I almost finished Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness', a novella very much of its time (1899) and a novella that is raw and reflects late Victorian attitudes to colonial Africa with all its warts. No wonder the human race is knackered.
Its a long weekend and I am not racing. I have a new floor to lay in the hall and will no doubt find anything and everything else to do rather than apply myself to the task. Its unseasonally cold out there with a northerly blowing the pink cherry blossoms off the trees in a swirling mass of colour and fragility. I might manage the club ride today. Better wrap up warmly.
I have only managed one run last week and will need to consult a physio about my defective calf. Moses had one; but it was golden. Like silence. They will do a bit of squeezing and kneading and suck their teeth as they weigh up my predicament like staring at the seized engine of an old car. They'll recommend a series of exercises. It's dull doing exercises. Maybe I should get back to the weights. Maybe I should just buy 32 inch waist trousers and enter the ballot for next years London marathon, run slowly and get shouted at for being at the back.  I do need to watch my weight if I'm going to make another trip to the Alps on the bike this summer. Not a good look wobbling up the Alpe d'Huez bulging out of my tight lycra with a sweat on. Blubbery Mass.
I had hopes last weekend of keeping the time trial momentum going on a course in Coxhoe, County Durham at the Houghton 10m TT, but it was a bleak day and the course wasn't a patch on the one I recently set new fast figures on in Irvine. My time crept just over the 26 minute mark. Thirty third out of sixty. Not too far down the list. I think a few riders found it a tough day out. At the end they gave me a time of 23:16, and it took me the drive home, wrestling with my conscience, before I emailed them to set the record straight; 23:16...that's like someone giving me a time of 32 minutes for a 10k. In my dreams. Can't believe I actually had a dilemma about doing the right thing. I initially viewed it as a victimless crime. No one was going to miss out on a prize, so whats the harm? The Time Trial organisation have a 'Power of Ten' type website where riders performances are listed and riders ranked, so I had to come clean. Uptown top time trial ranking. Althea and Donna. Wonder what theyre doing now. Nah pop, na style...
I left it late but entered the Cleveland Coureurs 10 mile event being held on the 11th May on a course in Sedgefield, Tony Blairs old stomping ground. I saw a picture of him last week and he looks old. I'm no spring chick myself, mind. I had considered paying the £79 for the Highland sportive Caledonia which is on later this month. I have a subscription to the Scots Magazine which reminds me of my roots while I'm down here in deepest England. The glossy wee magazine that puts a positive spin on all things scotteesh had an article on the event last month and it also contained a 20% off voucher, but its too pricey and with an early start on a Sunday morning, I would need to find some accommodation or sleep in the car.
Anyway, news is a bit thin on the sporting front, but I'll keep you posted. I had a look through all the related blogs and it seems many folk cannot maintain a blog for any length of time. Its a pity. I enjoy reading about all the comings and goings. Maybe I should start doing the twitter thing or instagram instead.