Saturday, 4 June 2011

Un Sang d'Aquarelle...

No posts of late, for obvious reasons...

The past month has been pretty shite to say the least so I've neglected any blogging duties in preference of skirting the issue.

The issue being my back is still pretty fucked, I've missed over a month of training and 4 organised Etape prep rides, including the Etape Caledonia, and am generally feeling pretty pissed off and depressed about the whole affair so have avoided thinking about it.

I'm only now starting to feel a bit more mobile and have been getting physio on my back to get to the root of the problem...  which is already helping and by necessity and with the gift of painkillers I've started back at work too.  So training-wise I have attempted not much more than a few hours on the turbo and a 10 min commute, both of which left my back feeling pretty grumpy.

As far as the police go I've heard very little-I had to send them my statement via recorded delivery to even elicit a reply to my voicemails and calls, and was then told the BMW driving fuck-pole that ran me down will be getting charged with Careless driving instead of Dangerous.  'oops, sorry I almost killed you there because I'm an impatient arrogant phallus and drove my one ton autmobile into you at 30mph+ that was most careless of me, wasn't it?'  Can't see I appreciate the finer shades of the legalities on this one but I'm sure Britain's brightest and best have their own keen instincts that they are following.

£150 fine and a few points will inevitably be the order of the day of course.  Meanwhile me, my bike and my Etape dreams are in splinters.  Great job!


I need to let go and just get on with things really... I've sorted myself out with some new wheels and frame and will hopefully build back into riding over summer.  As far as legal stuff goes I've instructed a lawyer and will wait to see if the c-nut responsible will accept liability to let me get this settled sooner.  Financially I'm totally rinsed now so even if I was fit enough I wouldn't even have the cash to do the Etape so there's not even much choice there any more, but as it is I think it would be wholly unrealistic to think I can get better and also be in good enough condition for an 8 hour bike ride over 3 alpine peaks.

Maybe I'll arrange something for the end of August and go do some riding in the Alps without 6000-odd other guys there blocking the road?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Not much to report cycling-wise... I still haven't even seen my lovely new bike since the accident. I'm told it's a write-off.

Been cooped up in the house over both bank holiday weekends and missing 2 weeks of work-I'm freelance so that is setting me back quite a lot, so I'll be back on the vintage steel till the insurance is resolved.

Physically, the bruises and scrapes are healing but my back feels terrible, I was still really concussed even a week after the accident and most disconcerting of all, am getting what the doctor calls 'displaced pain' originating from my back and pelvis manifesting in my left testicle.  Yup.  It really hurts and is very scary.

Apart from this I'm feeling really disconsolate-this could be the concussion or it could just be not being able to get out on my bike, being cooped up in the flat all day, and the prospect of several more weeks missed training for the Etape.  Either way I'm trying to focus on the positives but its easier said than done... I haven't even heard back from the police yet which, over a week on and after several messages left, is really just adding insult to injury (literally).

So far I've missed 2 sportive training events and haven't turned a crank in anger for too long...  This isn't what was planned.  Etape Caledonia in less than 2 weeks... Hoping I can make it.

How do you turn being smashed by a car into a positive?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Minor Setback...

Regret to report that out on a training ride on Saturday I have had my first experience of what it is like to be on the receiving end of a speeding car...  I wrote a detailed account of it on my blog on -safe to say I'm very happy to have survived and still be relatively intact, though I may have a fractured pelvis and am pretty bruised and battered.

My spangly new carbon Wilier Mortirolo (literally days old!) I have yet to see since the accident, but I'm hoping that like me it will come away from it without any permanent damage.  I had misgivings about riding on the bank holiday weekend for exactly this reason-too many impatient people clogging the roads-but was too excited at the prospect of riding my bike in the sun to let it dampen my enthusiasm... Lesson learned.

And I thought my next post would be to sing its praises... I keep coming back to how lucky I am though-at one instant I was really worried I'd badly damaged my spine at I couldn't get up off the road and was loaded into the ambulance on a spinal board.

Goes to show what happens when some genius decides it's a good idea to take a roundabout at +30mph and then cut up a cyclist rather than use his brakes.  And this is on a week where 'Dangerous Cycling' bills are being touted in Commons and the AA is giving out cheap helmets as a PR stunt.  It's pretty clear from where I am standing where the real issue is, but lets not let it get in the way of a populist news story, eh?

I really could have been killed-and for the sake of what?  Stupid arrogance and recklessness.  The driver's first reaction was to blame me, even when I was immobile and on the road, and I am lucky that the car following saw exactly what happened to put him straight.  He was charged with Dangerous Driving on the scene and I intend to see that he is prosecuted for the offence too, instead of given a slap on the wrist like most drivers are, but already I have fears that the incident is being downplayed by the officer on the scene as he changes the language used to describe it from 'the driver hit you' to 'the driver clipped your front wheel'.

Bare jokes as they say round these parts.

I was supposed to be riding the East London Pheonix Easter Classic today, but am instead shuffling around like an old man and doped up to the gills to drown out the pain in my back, neck and arms, and a question mark now lies over whether I can participate in the Etape Caledonia on the 15th, and how  much this will impact my being able to work (I'm freelance so this is a big deal-even missing a week is setting me back hugely and I can't afford to take time off as I won't be paid for it) and training.  Can't help but be really pissed off but I'm trying not to think about it for the moment and remind myself how lucky I am, as there's nothing else I can do.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Heaven of the North

What a day!

Beautiful sunshine and some great riding taking in quiet country roads and some tricky sectors that Rapha-ever the opportunists to invigle themselves into Euro cycling lore-calling them 'gravĂ© ' but what this really translated to was offroad style tracks and muddy lanes, not that I'm complaining as it was bloody good fun all the same, even if my wheels did make some strange protesting sounds at various points.  

Can't fault the organisation of it at all, as everything went very smoothly, and the post ride beer and frites were much appreciated also.  It may have been branded a 'social event' rather than a race but there were some speedy punters out there too and some ridiculous carbon machinery for a course that would really have befitted a MTB as opposed to zipp carbon rims, but mamils be mamils and between the near-universal uniform of Rapha  and the expensive kit on display I was a bit conflicted at my feelings about it... though tbh if I had the cash I'd be tempted to buy some myself...

My legs felt much better for the most part-I'm finding them much more willing and able to respond to my desires, finding myself going off the front a few times to bridge between groups quite easily at the start, and still churning away with energy at the end, so got to take heart from that.  

Need to get back to the climbing though... too many flat rides of late!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Hell of the North, Easter Classic, Etape Caledonia, Syke Mor, Dragon Ride, then Etape du Tour...

The calendar is certainly filling up with way-points on my route to the Alpe...

Sunday's Roubaix-style Hell of the North should be fun and with the last couple of weekends rides I'm starting to feel like my legs are more co-operative at 100k plus distances, and definitely recovering quicker too.  Mentally I've not been in the best place for training in the last few weeks to be honest, so in a way I've done well to do anything at all as it's been tough to motivate myself.  I've a new job which is really physical with lots of heavy lifting and carting crates about, running up ladders... you name it.  Core strength shouldn't be a problem now but my oh my does it make mid-week training far harder to do, and combined with mental strains and stresses, it's just about all I can manage to harry myself out for a ride or two at the weekend.  Anyway... it's going in the right direction I think and the weather is making it more appealing to get out there even if the roads round London remain as congested, potholed and forboding as ever.

Weight-loss has been continuing despite eating like a gannet -I've found my appetite has soared relative to the increase in riding, and it's nice that I've not really had to limit myself or be too disciplined but ever the perfectionist, I can't help but wonder how better a position I would be in if I had!  Still, 63kg remains a realistic, if ambitious target from my current 69kg, and if I get a bit closer I can perhaps begin to justify a new, lighter bike....  wouldn't that be a nice change from the 80's steel I'm riding now, hmmm.....

Also, I've opened up a JustGiving page for the Etape Caledonia, which I am riding in support of Macmillan Cancer Care, so if you can spare anything at all to sponsor me it will be going to a very worthy cause in helping to fight and illness which unfortunately a great many people are too familiar with.  The page can be found here if you can spare the time and a little money, it would be much appreciated and it will be going direct to the charity, not to mention spurring my legs round it's hilly 150km route.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Bumpy Roads...

It's been another week of turbo masochism in trying to compensate for two missed weekends due to illness...  The days and weeks are flying by-March now!  I should have a lot more miles in my legs...  It's hard not to get a bit stressed by setbacks at the moment as I've not got the confidence of having really achieved any tangible targets yet but I'm trying to stay positive and in theory at least it is still possible for me to peak just before the Etape as long as I have a bit more of a steady run and keep my head down.  Waking up on Saturday I still felt knackered and totally flat so even if I spent the rest of the day regretting it I think it was better to makes sure I was fully recovered.

One thing the flu has done is assist me on my skinnying down goals-down to about 70kg and feeling better for it (getting re-aquainted with my hip-bones after a few years absence) and hope that means I'll be climbing better for it too.  My turbo work has been a mix of low heartrate endurance and micro intervals to try and boost lactate threshold and Vo2 max, and I'm trying to get in a t least one hour a day in, some days 2 which is feeling ok but I don't want to overtire my legs during the week and compromise long weekend rides.

2 Weeks till the Spring Onion Sportive which is 100km and 1800m of climbing-I'm expecting it to be a bit of a kick in the head to be honest but will be a good, early opportunity to measure performance as it is timed.  Hoping to get out and reccy the course this weekend to get an idea of the roads and get a feel for the route-I'm still a bit nervous about the idea of fast bunch riding so if it makes me feel more confident on the day it has to be worth it!

Still suffering from a lack of local knowledge but I'm building up a bank of GPS routes from websites etc so I'll have a range of opportunities for longer solo runs.  I'm really hoping to get in a 100 miler by the end of the month and to really boost my base fitness before spending a lot of time in April and May getting down to climbing orientated fitness as this is where I am suffering the most at the moment.

Until then a bit of patience and PMA required I think....

Friday, 25 February 2011

Birthday tidings...

28 today...  This ageing business is getting a bit more serious.  *pressure*

No riding all weekend or this week because of flu.  Still not feeling great but determined to get out over the weekend, even if it means a quiet night tonight.  Not big on birthdays anyway, miserable git that I am ;)  Would rather get up early tomorrow and go on a club run than go out boozing tonight anyway-I'm really getting the fear about how little consistency I can find in training and riding just now.  I suppose that's just real life though.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Definitely Not Living La Vie Francaise Today...

Alarm set for 6.30 a.m to go out on a club run with Dulwich Paragon today like I did last weekend for my first experience of club riding which was great and settled my nerves about riding in a bunch as well as getting some new knowledge of local routes and meeting some nice folk...  Today however is torrential rain.  Grey skies. I don't even have a proper rain jacket at the moment, nor mudguards that fit on the training bike as the clearances are too close...  So I went back to sleep and now I'm slightly annoyed at myself.  

Still, a 70 mile run tomorrow-weather permitting of course.  I must say it has made turning down the opportunity to go to France for 3 months a bit regretful!  Ultimately it just didn't make sense... aside from avoiding responsibilities outside cycling in the 'real' world for a bit longer to focus on training.

I have taken delivery of a beautiful, high tech new turbo this week though thanks to the kind chaps at who I've been keeping up to date on my progress with a weekly blog article, and this has been in use every day this week doing intervals and long high-tempo sessions that seem to be pushing my metabolism through the roof as I am ravenously hungry 24/7...  Trying to keep control of what I'm eating to maintain a gradual weight loss though-I'm still aiming for an ambitious 63kg come July and I'm confident I can make it as long as I avoid slips like Thursday night where I ate a massive pizza and drank enough for the whole weekend.

This is an isolated incident and I have no plans to go anywhere but bed tonight so I can go to Leatherhead tomorrow morning and do a reccy of the Spring Onion Sportive route-which I'm doing proper on the 13th of March, featuring some 1600m climbing over 70miles so not to be scoffed at.

Climbing performance so far leaves me feeling scared.  Climbing like an arthritic spider would be the best description...  Still, no pain, no gain so I'll be mashing up the sloped tomorrow like a wounded buffalo if needs be.

Friday, 11 February 2011

To Go To France or Not To Go To France, That IS The Question...

Been offered a place on a 3 month, European funded program that would take me to Alles in the South of France..

I've only just got settled in London.  I have a possibility of a well paid job here...  My gf is here and we've just found a flat, moved in and decorated.

If I go to France, I have to re-settle and won't know what my position actually is until I get there, nor where I am staying, and financially, it will be a stretch as it only gives me a 600euro fee for the 3 months.

On the other hand, I get to cycle on lovely quiet French roads for 3 months, representing pretty ideal Etape training, can improve my language skills and potentially meet some good folks and put something good on my CV that would hold me in good stead for working there in the future.

Humm.  I need to make up my mind by Monday too...  what to do?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Brighton Crock

London to Brighton achieved in reasonable time (cutting out pit stops and luncheon that is...)- it was a glorious day, clear, bright and although the temperature plummeted as the sun set, quite mild.

Had a great time with James who I've known for a while but never ridden with-steely pins that man-who demolished hills that I wheezed up and was good company whilst setting a high tempo that forced me to up my game in order to keep his wheel more often than I'd care to admit.

Other than a dodgy pub lunch which left me unsure whether my stomach was about to implode or explode, my legs felt good after the ride, so even if the very small hills ripped me to shreds so it was a pity to have the ride spoilt by the poor hygiene of some lazy chef.  Still, felt good to finally get out there and put a dent in the miles.

I've been so busy getting established down here in London I've not really had a chance to train much-during the week I've been doing small doses of strength and stretches-but other than that it's too frantic with finding work and a flat to be able to.  Now I've been offered a 3 month intern in Ales, in the Gard region of France from March-June.  Hmmm.  Cat amongst pigeons?  A little.  It would be nice in the sense that going and living in France would be nice, but it would also be financially very difficult and mean passing up better paid work here, whilst leaving my girlfriend in our new apartment.  I've been moving about so much over the last few years that I'm a bit lacklustre about the prospect of doing it again too...  But that said it would be fantastic for my Etape training even if it shits up every other aspect of my life ;)

Still... need to take a step back from all that real-life stuff to evaluate whats going on with my training anyway. I've been quietly stressing about doing nothing and on Sunday could feel all the heartrate and cadence training done on the turbo was out the window as I tried to pace James, my computer told me my max heartrate on one climb was 199bpm-the highest I've ever seen it!

Getting freaked out and wildly flailing on rides isn't going to get me into the shape I need to be in, but with limited time I'm really going to have to flog myself on really tough interval training at least 3 times a week, with a long ride on the weekend to build up the miles.  I figure if I can ride 60 miles just now with ok legs the endurance aspect is most important for climbing-which means losing weight and really being clever about the routines I'm doing as well as allowing adequate recovery time and going at my own pace if I'm riding with other folk.

 Looking back down a subzero Ditchling as the sun sets...  I almost puked but because of my lunch, not because of the climb-honest!
 A speedy decent to Brighton and the Sea!
Blurry Brighton...  Not feeling too hot by this point-nuclear fission happening in my stomach but legs fine-a speedy return to London and a hot bath was the order of the day.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Onward ho!

London to Brighton on Sunday-whoopee!  should be about an 80 mile run through some nice countryside and even take on some hills!  I don't know this part of England terribly well so it'll be a great way to get to know my new surrounds and I'll be onto the maps to try and get a good route pinned down before I go on the Garmin.  I'm doing it with a nice chap I knew briefly in Glasgow before he made the move to London a few years back so it'll be a great catch-up (if I can physically catch up with him that is as I suspect he's got the steelier pins...)

Also just signed up for the Spring Onion so that'll be my first sportive of the year I think-13th March so a bit of time to get a few miles in the legs and keep up with the weight loss which has stalled slightly since being in London town... Looking forward to it!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Train in Vain...

Achey legged stupor today.

Finally got out yesterday for some rather haphazard wanderings into Essex in the freezing cold and rain.  A 6.30am start was for nothing as my Garmin refused to co-operate and promptly had some kind of aneurism, leaving me to navigate solo and without map.  Cue 40 miles of befuddlement, stressfully packed A roads, cycle lanes full of every vehicle imaginable and general sensory privation.

This may make it sound like I don't like London, I do, but everything from the traffic to the urban sprawl and air quality makes cycling a less appealing endeavour so it's strange to have to really gee myself up to brave the maniacal driving and do something that I otherwise love.  Even the cycling infrastructure-laudable in sentiment but, like in Scotland, so half hearted and dumbfoundingly misconceived in its application-seems a total hindrance.

Maybe I just need to acclimatise.  Or start taking the train to fairer, quieter climes on the weekend for my main dose of training.

Either way, stagnation is not an option and now that I am here, I've got my bikes and there are no more excuses.  In saying that I may get on the hunt for a new turbo trainer to limit the amount of time spent tailing bendy buses or being harrassed by black cabs...

Ah.  It was a much anticipated but somewhat disappointing ride so its hard not to be negative-I just need a good one and more of them and I'll be grand...  Though the job interview I have for a position in the south of France next week is looking ever more tempting.

Friday, 21 January 2011

London Calling

Mon dieu...  Londres!

2 Weeks in and it's been a rough ride-done sweet f-a training-wise since arrival, mostly through lack of bikes due to Parcel2Disorganised2Bother messing up the collection 3 times....

Unimpressed, stressed and busy would be the 3 words to describe my experience so far as I get to grips with new job, finding a flat, and negotiating the city but I've finally got my bikes and will be putting them back together tonight with a view of getting up bright and early tomorrow, braving the insanity of London traffic and going out for as punishing a ride as I can manage....  Essex?  Flat as a pancake as far as I can discover so far but it will have to do for the moment! 

Is it totally ridiculous to be on the first step of a new life, new city, and getting hourly more stressed out and frustrated because-out of all the things going on, demanding my time, energy and attentions-I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO RIDE MY BIKE! 

But that's ok... tomorrow... thermals on, bike prepped, Garmin fiddled with, maps loaded, off I trot...