Saturday, May 18, 2002

More navel gazing/soul searchingy sort of stuff;
So why am I doing what I'm doing ? Am I trying to re-create my youth as a born-again bike racer ? Looking for lost glory as a veterans champion ? Trying to win some cups to put on display. The last is more like it. Maybe once I have a set of awards I can stop this often awful treadmill of racing, training, trying to recover, trying to fit in training rides when I have a job that takes me to distant parts (how can I train if I go to US for a few weeks ?)
Am I feeling this way due to a mid-life crisis, or because tomorrow I have to race up Angel Bank, the hard, steepest side of Clee Hill. This hill would be a category 3 in the tour de France, but most races I ride don't have anything as scary as this.
I feel as I did when I was 16, in body and mind, maybe my outlook and understanding has changed, I suppose I am a lot less selfish (well at least a bit less). So far, since I re-started the racing thing, I have'nt had some of the hammerings I had back then. But I suppose after accumulating 20 seasons bike racing experience, I should be a better rider than a raw 16 year old. Why should I compare myself now to myself at 16 ? Is it because that was almost 30 years back ? No, I don't think so, its when I became more like I am now, moving away from childhood into maturity (ay ? You are kidding me, maturity is something I never had/have). 16 is when I can remember thinking similar thoughts, and can remember some of what I did and said pretty well. I don't desire to be 16 again, luckily. I prefer me now to me then. My memory thus far is good enough so I don't look back through a romantic haze of long sunny days spent happily. I was as miserable and depression-prone them, probably even more so, as I am now.
Then I could look forward, but did'nt. I went through a long miserable time in my 15th year, when I looked back to the past as some sort of golden time of my life. The advantages of youth were wasted on me, as I suppose they are on all of us.
Oh yeah, just found a cyclists website with a link to the 'spit on a stranger' blog. Is he taken in by the psuedo-punk posturings of a west coast rich kid ?

Friday, May 17, 2002

w long can this go on I muse ?
Here I am as a re-incarnation of my whippet-thin 20-something self.
How long can this go on ? This training, racing and general fitness regime ? I have burned out in the past;
In 1974 as A levels loomed and more entertaining pursuits, drinking and going out with girls, took over I slowly stopped, I only rode one or two races in early 1974.
Until I just got back going again in August 1975 when my cycling freinds called round and got me out for a ride round Lichfield. Then we hit on the idea of a Youth Hostel tour, and by late 1975 I was training again on the bike. Getting back to fitness was also because I took up boxing when all my freinds joined the army and had no more drinking buddies. Which was a good thing in retrospect, even though I missed them at the time. Then carried on keen, really keen in 1976, and trained very hard into 1977, then a girl started me off downhill again. I just seemed to loose interest in mid to late '77. Did some odd rides over the winter, rode a couple of races early 1978 but the keeness just was'nt there.
Started riding early 1979 after the cold snowy winter. Did a long ride out to Bridgnorth on the first warm sunny day, Easter. From there on did more miles and joined the Concorde RCC, back into the swing of training late 1979, raced in 1980, got a third place just when I was thinking I would concentrate more on work and my business studies course, so late 1980 trained hard into 1981 when I had my best period. This lasted until I became ill, probably due to overtraining, then did'nt allow myself to recover and started racing too soon. The end of 1981 I was as keen as ever, but buying the house and working there, and marriage in 1982 sort of decreased my training, still keen though but the beginning of a conflict with my wife over cycling loomed.
1983 raced, 1984 keen again and did OK. then Joanne in 1985 stopped my racing which was OK. Started again in 1986, but work was now really taking over.
1987 started OK. had problems with work. Late 1987 a real start-over, new job, less pressure. 1988 and 1989 were pretty well keen years. Got mtb in 1989, 1990 with David still trained, but then wife complained about my going out on Sundays, so it was all downhill from there. Started drinking after a hard day in the office, and found that alcohol boosted my confidence socially, and boy, did we socialise in Dudley. And, spending an evening in the pub seemed better than rushing home to my family, which is what I should have done. Instead I rolled in at 8 or 9 with lame excuses of too much work.
Spending more time working away led to a new-found thirst, especially for wine. Experiences with the mad Ghanain back in Cambridge during 1990 (His motto; theres always whisky in my desk !) led to bingeing becoming something I looked forward to whenever I found myself living on expenses in some
hotel. Oh boy did I stay in some good hotels and have some good nights ! (Or maybe bad nights in retrospect). Examples must be the country manor hotel in Kent, with a drunken (2 bottles of a very good SA pinotage) drive into London, and the other drunken drive into London (post 2 bottles) where I parked, went looking for an all-night club and then could'nt find my car. Eternal thanks to the taxi driver that located my car at 6 am on just a vague description of the locality).
Well this carried on until 1999, sort of had a go at getting fit, no use.
The time spent in Milan in early 2000 really did pile on the weight, too many good meals in that restuarant !
Then in early 2001 after hitting 90 kilos decided I had to do something, and the people I was working with had started walking round to Tescos and checking their BMI, and one or two were going to gyms. My BMI was 26, just above the ideal of 25. Started in the hotel gym after finding my fat was 40% and water 35%, Too high and too low. So cut out crisps and chocolate and beer.
As luck would have it, the newly formed Midland Racing Team were promoting a season of local time trials, which I decided to give a try, riding my first in mid May.
In 4 months went from 90 kilos to 72.4 kilos, started riding then racing. BMI now around 21.
So, how long will it go on ? Until I am a C or D cat at least, I hope ! I would like to race when I'm 60, thats something to aim at. There are one or two in their late 50s/early 60s that can give the youngsters a good run. So it is possible in theory to compete on my terms at 60. My terms are being able to ride and train, if not race, with the best of them.
If my wife begins to object, this time I won't feel soory for myself and find solace in alcohol, this time I maybe have another plan, involving a new life in the North.
Aching legs and a welter of sweat and snot.
That was me after yesterday evenings training bash. Bash was the word, as in me getting bashed. Just but 4 of us. Me myself and 3 hard men from the local pro outfit, MK Cycles. Resplendent in their matching MK racing kit and almost matching Bianchi bikes they made my heart turn cold. So we went, onto the A6 and started, not too bad so far, hitting 30mph on the flat, up the first drag and its hurting. Through Adlington, round and onto the circuit. going along on the only flat bit past the reservoir, feeling a bit wobbly and bike is sluggish although I didn't stint my turns on the front. Coming up to the left hander onto the Rivington road I find the cause of the sluggishness. Yes, yet another bloody puncture.
So pulled in and start the oh-so familiar routine, not helped by sweat running into my eyes and stinging like hell. Out comes the wheel. Quick look for objects embedded, nothing to see. Out come pump and spare tubes and tyre levers. Off comes the tyre and inner tube. Felt round inside of tube, nothing. Another hard look at the tyre and there it is, a glass splinter so out it comes. In with the new tube (glad I bought 3 more last weekend) And back on with the tyre, carefull you don't nip the inner tube you twit. Start pumping, with this little pump its a major long operation. Feels OK so back in with the wheel, was going to stuff old tyre, other spare, pump and stuff in my back pocket, but, a. Looks a bit messy.
Not much room with mobile phone and other stuff. So wrapped it back up and wedged it back into bottle cage. Rode up and down waiting for the flying three. Seemed to take a while to appear, what if they went off somewhere else ? Oh joy, I can return and have a nice leisurely ride back to the hotel without having to endure any further pain, but no, like an approaching nemesis they come. Latched on and began the process of to the front pushing hard, then latching on to the wheel of the guy passing, to the front.
Well, I'm not the only one suffering, up the hill afetr Rivington and the tattoed Londoner struggles, and the sticky-out-eared guy, with the stylish guy really pushing it. I hold on but the tattoed guy drops off, but gets on round the corner now its the horrible slog along to the twisty drop, at almost 40 mph very scary. Sticky misses a couple of turns, so does tatoos. Back on the hill stylish goes, sticky holds him, tatoo and I drop off, but get back on after the turn. Down fast and twisty, joy ! Someone parked slows us on the scary corner where my left knee almost scraped the tarmac last time around. A very brief respite, as soon as we are on the main road sticky comes past me at an unmatchable rate, stylish and tatoo jump on, I decide enogh is enough, as does sticky ! So stylish and tatoo hurle off, then more joy, its the last lap and stickys jump was an atempt to get away. Slowness again, down into an easily spinnable gear. Decide to go back towards Bolton a little, but then they head off up Chorley Old Road which goes up a long hill on the edge of Winter Hill. Oh well, not so bad in 39x19. Back to hotel along Chorley New Road, and along the horrible road past the M61 island. Ugh, what a nasty bit of road. My legs ache, and I feel whacked, probably a bit of dehydration even though I drank about half a bottle of PSP22, nowhere near enough to judge from the sweat and feel of my togs, I've lost maybe 1 litre, more if snot gets included. After showering I got in the bath and soaked for 10 minutes. That and some yoga/stretching restored normality and today I feel OK, did 45 press-ups no bother. Legs feel OK, going to check my pulse to see how much I really recovered. I'll do that later to give my enourmous breakfast (4 sausages & much toast) to digest.
But, was'nt it so nice to be wet with sweat instead of rain !

Thursday, May 16, 2002

After feeling miserable and getting wet and cold on Monday evening, then not being able to face being cold and or wet on Tuesday thus ducking out of training, I sort of considered giving it a miss last night. But no, the warmer air combined with buying a new racing top yesterday gave me enough impetuous (?) to go out. Not only that, but did Bolton ring road, up hill to Eagley ?, over moors to Belmont reservoir, then Wheelton, Chorley and A6 back to hotel. And, I did this at an average 20mph. So a good solid 32 miles worth of training. Now if I go onb the bash this evening, thats almost a full weeks complement of effort. Well, if I do some hill intervals or 30 second sprints after I get home on Friday evening, that should do me. But, on the other hand, I have to ride over the steep bits of the Clees in Sundays race, so maybe pushing it hard 2 days prior to a race is a bad idea. Oh, if I had realised just what course the race would take I would'nt have entered. Ugh, from Bridgnorth out on the road over Brown Clee, all up and down, rising to 320 M, downhill towards Ludlow. Left onto the main road, then wham, onto Angel Bank, 3 miles up with a 15% gradient in parts up to 360 M, down the other side of the Clee, up again to Cleobury, then the roller coaster B road back to Bridgnorth. I wonder if the Midland RT are running a nice short time trial on Sunday morning ? The weather forecast is iffy, coller and maybe showers. Well thats all I need, slogging up Angel Bank in the rain.
Yesterday evening went a short drive round to enjoy the car, and saw Jupiter, new moon, Venus lined up in the sky perfectly. As the sky darkened after 22.00 Mars and Saturn came out. What a sight, seeing large things up in the sky is awesome, and really makes me realise how insignificant I am in the whole scheme of things.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Saw some guy in Bolton yesterday wearing what I am sure were Levis sta-press, a Ben Sherman check shirt and brogues. A true boot boy from 30 years back !
Is that stuff coming back into popular style ? (as far as I am concerned it never went out of style).
Right, I'm off out to get a Ben Sherman and some black sta-press.
This week I am trying out something I saw on a cycling website, and this thing is De-training. Well the concept is somewhere about half way through the racing season most riders get a little stale and performance drops off. I remember something like this in 1981, when I thought it was due to a stomach illness I suffered from in April. 1 week after my illness I was training and racing away, but lacked that race-winning extra zip. This feeling carried on until late June. I just stopped training completely for a week and did'nt race. Once back on the bike I started feeling better, then got a 4th in a really hilly race in the Cotswolds, then in September got my first and only win that year. What I should have done is rest for 2/3 weeks after being ill, but being a stupid bike racer I thought the route to recovery lay through the pain of training, and had to train harder to make up for lost training while I was ill ! I also remember I lost 3 or so kilos when I was ill, so I started off pushing myself hard with low reserves, thinking the lost weight would help me in hilly races ! I remember my first race back about 10 days after being ill, a hilly race over the Clees, suffering where I usually excelled.
Whatever. Last night was fun, too much alcohol (bottle of crap cheap white wine, pint of lager and 3/4 bottle of champagne). I somehow doubt that drinking too much and staying up late is what de-training is about.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Part two never came. Fell asleep due to sonorific effects of red wine.
Would have been something along the llines of armchair worship. 'Armchair', 'armchair' we would cry as we bowed to venerate the object of our worship, the mighty abandoned armchair. What would have been the fate of that discarded item of furniture ? What was its enentual fate after its descent into the canal ? Did Dennis really set fire to that cable reel and roll it down the road ? Just how effective was a full-face motorcycle helmet at warding off punches ? did I really fight those lads that laughed at us wobbling along on the tandem ?
Whatever happened to that tandem, did we abandon it it did it make its way back to someones house ?
Todays Tuesday, todays Tuesday. Tuesdays ? Roast Beef ? I can't remember, the song was by the Small Faces ?
Recently posted Blog is 'Got God'. Nope, I've not got god. A long time back I started reading the bible, and read all of the new testament over the space of a couple of years. This was partially something I decided to do, and one of my freinds, Mick, also started around the same time. Well, what a surprise when he went off with the children of god, a sisister religious cult that lured young men into its clutches by using its women members to have sex with the lads. So they here hookers for jesus. And it worked. I don't know how they got the women, but I sure know how they got the men. His parents tried to get him back, well he was over 18 so legally his own master. He took my neat frame rucsac with him, and some photos of our cycling tours I would have liked to keep.
Anyway, about god, hes gone off on holiday to another galaxy. Are people that find god just sad misfits looking for a purpose in life ? Or are people such as myself with no faith or beliefs the misfits ?

Monday, May 13, 2002

In the short warm summer of '75 I was an unpleasant teenage layabout. A bunch of us used to wander off out of the suburbs into the nearby countryside, which was convieniently well stocked with pubs. On the way back we would feel the urge to clear out excess alcohol, usually while walking along a canal just by a railway bridge. We found a plastic bucket so, we pissed/puked and once crapped into this bucket. By the middle of August this receptacle was getting pretty rank. We decided it had to be jettisoned. Now as luck would have it, the railway also crossed a
busy main road as well as the canal. What would be fun ? Yes, hurling the bucket and its contents onto the head of some smart-arse driving an open-top sports car !

So one hot evening, fuelled with Ansells bitter we set off on our quest, to soak some unsuspecting smoothie in rancid old piss, sick and some turds thrown in for good measure. We climbed up onto the bridge and waited, then with a throaty roar along came our prey. My freind looked over the other side and shouted 'go' just when the car went under his side of the bridge, and I tipped up the bucket.
A direct hit ! The driver piled on the brakes, and we ran into some bushes at the side of the bridge and watched, keeping low. The mullet-haired twit stood up and waved his arms about, looked all round hime and drove off. We had half a bucket left. along came another open-top sports car so without further ado I threw bucket and contents scoring a resoundind direct hit. Right on the passenger seat ! A police car was coming in the opposite direction and slowing, so we legged it, finding running and chocking with laughter fairly difficult !
See part two of things I did when I was not quite as mature as I think I am now for further installments of teenage stupidity, back int he days of
pre-punk/skinheads and even punk. Long before football became a boring mainstream activity, when football fans could look forward to a belly full
of beer and a fight at every away game !
Hurrah !
Read a few blog comments about this event.
Some great writer (probably Shakespear) wrote;
'but travellers must be content'.

And the nub of this pithy comment is that people that travel must expect things to happen. In his day travelling was very dangerous, and in our cosseted age we seem to forget that doing things remains dangerous.
The act of putting many people in a box, balanced on metal wheels rolling along metal rods at 100mph plus is slightly dangerous. Just about 10 people die on the roads every day, and that is looked on as an acceptable level of risk, and road deaths don't even make the news unless there are multiple or unusual deaths. So 8 dead so far this year on the railways looks very good, compared with an estimated (so many are killed each day the figures are'nt even published anywhere !) 1000 on the roads.
So railways are much safer than any other form of transport, from walking and cycling through to flying.
Monday oh shit another 5 days of boring keyboard hitting humdrum.
I suppose some commas would'nt be amiss in the first sentence. Some people are born dumb, some people become smart, I wonder how many people become dumb? Or were they always as thick as pigshit ? I'm looking at someone in particular here, the office drudge of this particular office. I've worked in many different environments over the past few years, and met people with varying degrees of intellect, smartness, dumbness come what may. But an individual here has knowledge of systems, but is imposed upon like a slave, and is either not aware of being imposed upon, enjoys it or is very dumb, and does'nt realise that useful IT skills can be put to good use, and not have to work long unpaid hours of extra time.
Now at the moment the IT world is in recession, with jobs going here there and evrywhere, and I don't feel secure. But that certainly was'nt so 4 years back, when I first met Dummy Dumbo. Now when I came across DD a couple of years back, DD was still in the same position and still taking on every bit of crap that smarter people dropped like hot shit. So nothing learnt over the years. 2 years ago an ape that could tap away on a keyboard with confidence could get a big salary and all the trappings. But in this Northern environment there seems some fear or suspicion of the big bad world, where a move into the big city would add on 1000s to income, many seem to prefer being in nowhere (and earning nothing). Is it just me being greedy ? Or are some people unselfish and loyal to their employers ? Well, lets just say their employers are'nt at all loyal to them. Being an outsider with a view on management decisions, I see that some of these loyal company servants may well get pissed on from a great height.

What is all the mania over Star Wars about ? What am I missing ? My daughters boyfriend considers me a trifle odd for disliking Star Wars.
Well, I liked science fiction when I was twelve, but now I'm grown up a little I find science fiction a little tedious and unimanginative. I could write stories about robots and lasers and spaceships. I saw the very first Star Wars film a long time away in another galaxy, the galaxy of Birmingham. I thought the special effects were good, but the story and action was a little predictable. Maybe thats the big draw, rather like a soap opera. Known personalities following a set behaviour, with the occasional new character and story line thrown in, with the odd cliffhanger. So the audience have become hooked and the studio has a sure-fire money spinner for years to come. Or else maybe the majority of people are dumb, and actually enjoy this stuff !

Well trying to get in touch with H, no luck with texting, not so far anyway.
Went for an eye test this morning, as I broke my specs last week. Decided on a titanium pair, and would'nt you just know it, the lenses were'nt in stock so a 7/10 day wait. This was in Asda, a supermarket ! I wonder if I should therefore go to Tesco to get my teeth repaired ? Or to Sainsburys to see if they can deal with my alcohol addiction ? Talking of which I bought a really good looking bottle of South African red whilst I was waiting to see the opthalamotometeristican. So this evening may well decscend into a miasma of alcohol, but better not go to the depths of Thursday last week. Breaking more specs is not a good idea.
Planned on riding the Midland RT '10' yesterday morning. So I got up at 6.45, eat a hurried bowl of frosties and a couple of slices of toast. Then sat, feeling a little tired, my back was a little bit uncomfortable. It was bright, but cold outside. Now I had to go off clad in lots of layers to keep out the cold, so would have to change by the roadside. Then if it warmed up later on, I would iether have to take a bag to put some layers into, or ride out with less layers on and be cold. Also, I had 20 miles to go. Oh sod it. I decided to have a leisurely breakfast, and wait untill it warms up before venturing out the door. So I did, then sat on the patio untill I was warm, then went and did a pleasant 34 miles round Ullenhall. Collected Dad for dinner, then took David mountain biking in sutton Park in the afternoon. A much better day than starting it by slogging off on a 10 mile time trial.