Monthly Archives: October 2015

Friday Night/Saturday Morning

So Friday night I bit the bullet and joined the gym at the local leisure centre. I was intending just to use it as a source of indoor cycling and the occasional bit of swimming.

Somehow though I find myself agreeing to come in 15 minutes earlier than I normally do on a Saturday (for the Boy’s swimming lesson) for Personal Goal Setting.

I have a cold so they can forget any idea of getting me to try any gym equipment. I am not going to allow them to talk me into anything but what I have decided I am going to do… exercise refusniks like me need to take things slowly thank you very much

Anyway I walk in and there is the sadistic instructor from last Tuesday… and then I find myself wondering around behind him watching him flex his muscles as he demonstrates how to use the equipment and somehow when I go back through the double doors to collect the Boy I find he has talked me in to doing a beginners training programme on the weights machine thingamabobs… apparently I need to do some resistance training

I don’t need training in resistance. I am very good at resistance… I have been resistant to the idea of exercise pretty much since joining secondary school…

A combination of my cold, a small hangover and the fact that my friend Wingnut was coming over later to drag my lardy ass all over the Warwickshire countryside geocaching meant I postponed the planned cycling. I’m in danger of postponing Sunday’s trip out too as the geocaching left me in pain for other reasons as my boots don’t fit…

This whole exercise lark is reminding me not to be complacent about good equipment and taking one’s time to ensure a good fit. My previous boots lasted 13 years and had been all over the world. Unfortunately they died last bank holiday when the sole came apart from the uppers…the ones I used today came from TKMax and are supposed to be technically superior which is no bloomin good if they are too narrow…

Talking about good fit. I now need to work out how to fit 3 sessions of gym based resistance training into a life already overstuffed with deadlines and commitments.

Advertisements

Trial by Group Cycling

It takes all the courage I have to walk into a room of strangers, even a small room, when wearing exercise gear… small rooms called Judges chambers when wearing a suit no problem… even a lecture room full of 20-60 year olds I can manage if I’m either attending or the one giving the lecture on an area where I am the expert… but a small room full of thin athletic people… no way José…

Yet here I am on Tuesday night walking into a small dark room with disco lights and introducing myself to an intimidating fit 20 something bloke with hairy arms and muscles all over.

He is very welcoming explains how to alter the seat and the handle bars and then nothing more because suddenly we are off…

And boy are we going at pace…everyone furiously pedalling whilst Mr A shouts instructions from the front I try to keep up with everyone else…except…

How am I meant to tell how fast I am going when I can’t turn the computer on… or possibly it is already is on only I can’t read it because its so bloomin’ dark… what’s that?  Up a gear, oh and now you want me stand up and pedal furiously at an even harder gear…

Standing up scares the pants off me, as do cages on bike pedals… I should have run out the door the moment lovely Hannah, who did the quick intro to the facilities before the trial session began, asked me if I had proper cycling shoes…

Mr A shouts at me to turn the pedals the other way up whilst at the same time calling to the group to ease off and take a drink… a nice (but annoyingly slim) lady next to me kindly jumps off her steed and quickly plops my feet where they are meant to be and adjusts the straps… hell now I am caught and truly stuck… no escape I am here for the next 30 minutes now

My knee is starting to ache, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that is developing in my crotch area… it’s not until you try someone else’s bike that you realise how much you take your own saddle for granted… I don’t want to stop, I’m embarrassed enough without making it worse by wimping out in front of these strangers.

Yes I am fat and unfit but I am not a quitter I can do this, I’m not in the business of handing people reasons to despise me on a plate… but I have no idea how much longer this will go on as there is no clock in the room and I still haven’t worked out how to turn the computer on… and I have no way of judging if I’m going fast enough except by comparing where my gear lever is in comparison to the bloke next to me and making sure I’m pedalling as fast  as he is…

Eventually I have to give up with the standing bits of the session otherwise I’m going to collapse and plant my face in the handlebars… I just  tried to keep up with the speed of everyone else… and then its over…I finished… god knows how and the sweat is pouring out of me… of course I had forgotten to bring a bottle of water with me… and everyone else had small handtowels…

That was sheer hell… yet as I fall out the door I shout see you next week

So… I may have accidently joined a Gym…

I have been watching the light fade these last few days…I’ve been watching it fade earlier and earlier and wondering what I am going to do for exercise now that “winter is coming”

The options seem to be either I embrace the dark and cycle in it; obtain a turbo trainer and attach my bike to it…or a bike to it; or go over to the dark side and join a gym

Now I am not keen on exercise as you have probably gathered by now. The cycling is ok as its exercise by default mostly it is about being outside on the bike and seeing the world I miss when I speed by in the car. Joining a gym would be exercise for exercise sake, personal bests, targets, pushing yourself more each week in fact possibly all the things I probably need… but at a gym you can’t pretend you are doing anything else but exercising (except when swimming).

So canvassing views from the office MAMIL’s I get a surprisingly mixed view of cycling in the dark…one absolutely embraces it, says as long as you have a good lighting set up then there is nothing wrong and he loves it… mind you he thinks I’m weird because I like cycling in the rain…another does it but with some fear and trepidation and the third just won’t go there.

I have just upgraded my lighting set up. Not because I am going to embrace the night but because colleague 1 convinced me my lights were inadequate. Yes my original lights make me legal but choosing them because they look cute, are in fetching shades of purple and were very very cheap was apparently not the criteria I should have used…

4 years as a personal injury lawyer (many many years ago… I am reformed !), plus the fact that I would be a girl alone at night on country roads are possibly the greater negatives for me on cycling at night. (the older you get the scareder you get but weirdly more confident about other things !)

I haven’t ruled out a turbo trainer. I suspect it will require 2 bikes as I fear that attaching it and unattaching it will be too much faff for me as I don’t intend to give up my outside cycling entirely. A friend has one she doesn’t use and is lending it to me over the winter in exchange for dinner this Saturday.

So that left the gym. Which is an unknown quantity as I have reached the ripe age of 44 having never darkened the door of one. However my enlightened colleague also mentioned that he did not thinking that cycling was enough and that I should think about cross training…

Now apart from the fact I hate exercise I have always found the offers and contract relating to gyms and gym membership rather confusing. Take our local one which is simultaneously offering membership for £1 and join now get 3 months free… feeling thoroughly confused I decided to email the local leisure centre for an explanation and ask about their group cycling (whether it was suitable for exercise refusniks) … and amazingly within about 90 minutes they responded which is how I found myself on Tuesday night puffing away like a sweaty out of breath thing on a stationary bike

It was a trial session but there were no concessions for being a newbie… you were just tipped straight into the fray…

Childhood Dreams

Since that cold wet Monday evening when I turned up with the broken down bicycle that we now call “Candy The Slapper” the Man has become quite enthusiastic about the project…

It started the evening I returned. He came into the bathroom where I was soaking the cold out of my bones with the hottest bath I could bear. He came in and sat by the bath

“I’ve been looking at the frame. She’s in surprisingly good nick for something so screamingly ‘80’s”

The Man reckoned that she had been involved in an accident as the crankwheel was pushed into the frame and the teeth dug in to the paintwork if you tried to turn the pedals. His theory was that she may have been stored at the back of the garage and one day someone parking the car might have failed to stop, crashing into the car and forcing the crankwheel into the frame…and then she was just left in the garage hence the fact there was very little rust or dirt other than the sticky greasy film that seemed to be all over her.

It was the Man who started referring to the bike as “she” and “her”…  as in

“She has a very pretty frame”

Candy the Slapper is of mixte construction having 2 parallel toptubes coming from the handlebar stem, going either side of the seat tube and joining the drop outs at the back.

Candy is the bike from the 1980’s I never had… my bike was a very sensible bike for going to and from school on…with a basket… and because I have very short legs I never grew out of the bike I got at the age of 10… I was still using it at the age of 18 despite the fact that by then it had seen many many better days…

The Man started telling me about the bike from his teenage years muttering reverently names like Sturmley Archer and Reynolds 531 frames…

It was a Raleigh… of course it was a Raleigh most kids in England ended up with Raleighs because back then there was still a belief that all the manufacturing was still done in England, Nottingham…

I had a Puch… but then we bought our bikes off my Uncle John who owned a bike shop… in Nottingham…

The Man is hooked and fired up about the project. Together we manage to find an old brochure on the internet showing the Raleigh Candice…it’s not quite the same model though but it gives us an idea for dates.

He also gets quite enthused over photographs of other bikes people have done…We end up having to put a budget on ourselves as it is quite possible to go quite gaga over accessories…and Candy was never meant to be a diva of a bike. She was meant to be a learning curve for bicycle repair and a bit of a beater bike for taking to places I didn’t have the courage to take the Ridgeback.

But things seem to be evolving quite fast… at some point we have to make a decision as to whether this is a repair or a restoration…

Did I mention I have no hair ?

I never really introduced myself… just rushed straight in. Well now I have worked out how to get photos off my phone and on to wordpress (I have an android and mostly I create content on an IPad mini or at work neither of which will let me add photos from the phone) I probably should say hello properly

Hello… this is me…

image

at least this was me on the Saturday morning before the bank holiday at about 11am…

This is now what I look like….

image

My next door neighbour has just removed all my hair for me as part of Macmillan Cancer supports “Brave the Shave” campaign

It was probably the most exciting thing to have happened in the village for some time hence the number of children who were also crowded into the back garden watching and videoing the event… fortunately none of them are old enough or technologically savvy enough to have worked out how to add it to YouTube… yet !

Some towns are friendlier than others

As a commuter I spend a lot of time in traffic, correction a lot of time sitting in traffic watching the road around me. Since venturing back on the bike I’ve found that I notice cyclist more in that I don’t just register that there is a bike and I need to take care but I notice what sort of bike it is, male or female rider, helmet or not and what sort of accessories are on the bike as well as make model and colour if I’m close enough.

Today I went to Reading and noticed lots of cyclists. Is  Reading  a very bike friendly town ?There are cyclists everywhere, people commuting with children and dogs on the backs, people with laptops and briefcases sticking out of baskets, some in work clothes some in Lycra…lots of them.. whereas on my current commute to Solihull I hardly see any.

I know there are cyclists in Solihull, we have bike racks at work so someone is obviously cycling. I also know there are cyclepaths in Solihull as the Council tell me there are and provides a nice big friendly booklet about them… but I can’t find any of them…no cyclepaths and only 1 cyclist spotted just as I got to the office and our organisation encourages people to get on their bikes…

In Reading the cyclepaths and cycle routes are very obvious and well signposted and there are lots of them…some of them even tell you how long by bike it will take you to get from where you are to somewhere else.

Loads of cyclepaths seems to = loads of cyclists

On the journey back through Henley, less than 10 miles down the road I only see 2 cyclists in Henley, as I cut through the town centre from one side to the other, plus two stationery bicycles. There are no obvious cycle routes in the town centre, I spot a couple but they are on the outskirts and peter out as you approach the town centre…

Do more cycle routes mean more cyclists ?  Or is it unfair to compare Henley to Reading since it is much much smaller…

However cycling to the Reading office has never been an option since its about 70 miles from home… and by the time I got to work it would be time to come home. Solihull is a possibility though as even unfit Slug that I am I could feasibly manage 25 miles and with a bit of practice possible do it within 2 hours…

Monday A foolish girl and why I married the Man

How do you fit this wreck

image image

into this small car…

image

And possibly more importantly why would you ?

Recent experiences whereby I come back to discover that the Man has added bits or removed bits from my bike has made me want to learn how to do what the Man does?  He has no fear of repairs and maintenance or flat tyres. If his bike isn’t working the way he expects it to then he just changes it, no ifs no buts no procrastination… also he walks round bike shops seeing possibilities and not, as I do feeling overfaced by row upon row of bits bobs and accessories.

I am reluctant to learn by fiddling around with the Ridgeback (which reminds me I haven’t introduced the bikes yet)  as I might mess it up and then  I am without a ride… or waiting for the Man to make good what I have messed up… which would be embarrassing

So on impulse I bought a cheap “parts or restoration on ebay ” bike for £10.

Unfortunately I got my towns mixed up and thought I was picking it up from just outside Rugby… it was only after the auction had closed that I discovered that the bike was located just outside Nottingham some 90 minutes from home, just over an hour from work.

Oops… and then in order to avoid adverse comment on ebay I had to go through with it as they were only accepting cash and that was on collection only.

I perhaps should mention that shortly after I left the office it started raining. it was absolutely hoofing it down for most of the way down the M42 and M1 but had eased off by the time I came off the A46…but was still far from dry

The sellers had kindly taken the wheels and the fenders off for me; also the back carrier but the bike was still too large and I had no tools with me having come straight from work…they then shut the door on me pretty much as soon as I handed over the money so I also had had to carry it to my own car.

There I am in the spitting rain trying the bike this way and that.  It didn’t fit in the boot… or the passenger seat…and I have no back seat or back shelf to speak of…fortunately my car does this…

image

So I drove back from Nottingham with the top down and with a smelly dirty 1980’s Raleigh in the passenger seat…in the rain as of course the further I went from Nottingham the more the rain started to fall.  Fortunately however I didn’t actually get very wet and neither did the inside of the car. I was wearing a cut price waterproof jacket that the Man had dumped in the back “in case you break down in the rain” and I guess the design of the windscreen kept most of the spray out of the car.

I wasn’t sure how legal it was to drive with the top down and a dangerous pile of spiky metal bits in the passenger seat so I decided to avoid the motorways and take roads less travelled which worked fine until I managed to lose the route of the A46 around Leicester… somehow I stumbled upon the A47 which took me to Hinkley where I was then able to join the A5 and then the Fosse Way home.

This was a cold wet journey but surprisingly quite exhilarating… at least at first.   I think I got a grin from a road cyclist just outside of Hinkley who may have spotted my passenger… then again it may just have been gratitude for giving him enough room when overtaking after the lights…

It possibly stopped being a fun adventure around about  Stetton Under Fosse/Brinklow… by now I was slightly tired, getting cold and very very hungry… but the Fosse is the route home pretty much so I slogged on.

When I get back the Man is looking out for me. He says nothing just looks at me with his usual amused rueful grin…the one he uses when I am collapsed by the back door after a ride.  He makes no comments about the rain,  the topless car or the rusted wreck in the passenger seat,  just “I thought you said you bought a frame…what’s with the wheels and other bits” and  “ Kettles on, thought you might like a bath before dinner to warm you up…but would you mind stripping the chicken first so that I can make dinner”

Reader, this is why I married him, because he takes my slightly unconventional  approach to life in his stride and accepts my reasons for doing things as logical for the world in which this family lives in… oh, and cooks a pretty mean stir fry…even if he is squeamish about touching greasy meat (I accept his illogical hang-ups too).