Wednesday 30 March 2011

Roadie clothes are dorky

I admit it. I'm a roadie, especially this year. I will also admit, grudingly, that road bike clothes are wrong. I honestly don't think there is a single piece of road bike specific clothing that I'd wear off the bike. I think this is pretty special as most other sports I can think of - football, rugby, swimming, basketball, cricket - have at least the odd item that you'd wear for leisure (can I conveniently ignore martial arts?).

Consider the evidence, top down.
  • Helmet. No explanation needed. They certainly don't have the all round wearability of a baseball cap and compared to a hockey mask they're rubbish for wearing whilst on a killing spree.
  • Jersey. It's tight, brightly coloured, has a big long zip on the front and three silly pockets on the back. I wouldn't wear one down the pub to watch the Tour with my mates, no matter how much of a fan of Liquigas I was.
  • Arm warmers. What? What they hell are they? You put them on your arms when they get cold? Have you not heard of jumpers?
  • Waterproof. Short at the front, long at the back, bright yellow, figure hugging and only fits if you've got your arms out in front of you like a classic zombie.
  • Bib shorts. Two words - gay wrestler.
  • Normal shorts. One word - nappy.
  • Leg warmers. Practical but very difficult to explain around the office.
  • Knee warmers. Like leg warmers times a million. To quote a colleague, "you look like a f**king idiot".
  • Cycling socks. Why do I have special socks for cycling, apart from the fact some have "Wanker" written on them?
  • Road bike shoes. Perfect for riding in, useless for anything else. So useless for walking in that you perfect the weeing while straddling the bike technique to avoid having to walk to the bushes.
  • And finally, the trigger for these thoughts - shoe covers...

It looks like I've put socks over my shoes! Hang on...

Oh... I have. I even had to cut a hole in the bottom so the cleats could go through. I don't think I've ever bought an item of clothing that required me to cut a big hole in it before it would serve its intended purpose.

I have truly been sucked in to the cult of the roadie.

Monday 28 March 2011

Just like riding a bike

First ride in 11 weeks tonight - just a 45min/18km bimble on the road bike, watching very carefully for potholes. They've certainly increased in size, severity and number since I last went out, although the good people of West Berks Council road planning have resurfaced a 15 metre stretch of local road to make up for it.

The bone+metal caterpillar coped well, the upper back less so. The straps of my new helmet were flapping about like an air-breathing goldfish though - some kind of scissor-based surgery is needed there. Apart from that, fairly uneventful. I did have to dodge three large black poodles and a reversing trailer - oh, and a reversing Honda too - but that's normality on the roads around here.

I also visited the gym for the first time since the accident. It wasn't the most intense session. Pulling thin pieces of rubber band and press-ups against the wall hardly made me look, um, hard. Pathetic springs to mind. And the less said about the 3kg bicep curls the better.

Still, I had by far the most impressive scar in the changing rooms.

Friday 18 March 2011

Mental preparation

I've got a box of rhubarb and custard gels.
I've downloaded some Sopranos, something with Scarlet Johanssen and an underground film about extreme endurance hamsters.
I'm girding my loins. Well, smothering them in arse-lard.
I've got a shiny new Powertap and a Garmin to listen to it.
I've installed my dribble catcher and got the mind-numbing syrup ready.

Yes, it's time for endurance training on a turbo. Multiple hours of dullness with extra sweat and sugary things.

My record is four hours. That isn't pleasant. I think it does display a certain mental strength though, the kind of mental strength that 1920's chain gangs needed as they dug ditches for hour after hour after hour. At least they had people to whisper too, and the occasional beating for excitement. No-one will come and beat me.

I'm not going to manage four hours tomorrow. I've got a haircut booked, and Milan-San Remo is on. I've also got to have breakfast, lunch, a sleep, read the paper, go to the post office and buy a pudding to take to Colin's on Sunday.

Actually, I think I may give it a miss.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

It's started

The shopping, that is. A Powertap SL+ hub on an Open Pro rim, three boxes of Torq bars ("What flavour would you like?" "Surprise me" "OK, I'm writing down what you're getting but I'm not going to tell you") and two boxes of gels, all direct from Torq.

That may all be complete gibberish to you, so I'll try and put it into English.
  • Powertap + Open Pro = a wheel that costs as much as a serviceable car, isn't particularly light but will tell me how pathetic and unfit I am. I'm paying to know this.
  • Torq bars = vaguely fruity chewy things that I eat while exercising but rarely at other times. They're very tasty compared to other bars and very effective. I wouldn't call them food though, more like petrol for the legs.
  • Torq gels = vaguely fruity gloopy things that I absorb while exercising but rarely at other times. Think of super sweet toothpaste that disolves your teeth. The caffeinated ones are brilliant for perking you up on a long drive though. They should sell them in garages.
On the healing front, I can now rest my right hand on the bars for  good 10 minutes and the ribs on the back right only occasionally feel like they've been twisted like a sodden towel in a boys changing room.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Training plan complete

Not just any training plan, but the 144 Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Training Plan (tm).

I started this 27th December 2008 and finally finished on Thursday with the series 7 finale. I can't say I feel any fitter for doing it, although given that it's taken 26 months there may have been other influences along the way.

I therefore need a new training plan. I have two and a half series of Angel, three series of ER and the wonders of Sky Player video on demand. I started on Treme last night, and I've downloaded the next two episodes for today. Somehow though, the TAAHSOA,TSOER AND TWOSPVOD (ISOTLN) doesn't have quite the snappy title I'm looking for.

You may have guessed that the hospital visit went well on Wednesday - I'm now free of the strap-on* (which was ceremonially burnt in my fire pit) and my physio notes have the magical phrase "progress treatment, no restrictions" on them. I can sort of rest my bad arm on the handlebars but I imagine it's going to be a few weeks before I can actually venture outside. Still, it's all good and somehow I'm far more motivated to train that I would have been without the injury.

Right, down to the garage...

(* strap-on = pet name for sling)

Wednesday 9 March 2011

I am bionic

I think that's the word. I'm not a cyborg, as that's brain and thinking related. I'm not a robot, as far as I can tell. I might be a little bit Wolverine, except that I'm full of stainless steel instead of adamantium.

Yup, I've seen my post-surgery x-rays. And now, so can you. Click on the pic for a biger version.

I make that ten screws, but it's tricky to be sure. I have an underneath shot too:

As you can see, the plate is drilled for lightness. I've got a racing plate.

How cool is that?

Monday 7 March 2011

Endorphins vs Adrenaline

This post on Jill Homer's blog got me thinking a little about what I get from bike riding. It's the mention of being an endorphin junkie rather than an adrenaline junkie that resonated. If I consider what I really relish in a bike ride it's either the people, the playfulness or the pain.

I've mentioned the people factor before - they are often what make a ride truely memorable for me. The playfulness refers to those sections that are just damn fun: swoopy singletrack, splashing through streams, or sweeping down long twisty hills on a road bike. I could have added to that the thrill of diving down off the top of the banking in a velodrome, but my love for velodromes is slightly dulled at the moment.

Now, for clarification, there is a difference between "something fun that makes me grin" and "something terrifying that makes me pee". I just don't get attracted to "scary" things. I've never been into rollercoasters, knife fights or super-techy-rocky descents. My danger-of-death alarm kicks in waaaay before my adrenaline receptors start to get tickled. Part of it is about limits and control - if I feel I'm in control then I'm comfortable with the situation, but I don't like being pushed too far past my limits. Adrenaline doesn't do it for me.

Which brings me to the pain. Endorphins are different. I enjoy burning muscles, fatigue, the challenge of a steep road climb. I associate it with good things happening. I'm burning off last night's tub of Phish Food, or I'm making my muscles that smidgen more dense. My lungs are getting bigger, my lactate clearance is getting more efficient. Getting home after a six hour road ride and spending the afternoon on the sofa (after eating anythin within easy reach) gives me a buzz. Thorn scratches and nettle stings are to be embraced. I may hate XC racing at the time, but there is a definite high afterwards.

I guess I'll never be a top downhill rider, but if you want someone to clear a bramble patch, I'm your man.

Wednesday 2 March 2011


Not the bending over backwards kind.

I had my operation 6 weeks ago tomorrow. They say that the average bone healing time is 4-6 weeks. My check up is next Wednesday. It's the not knowing that is frustrating.

If I knew my breaks (don't forget there are two of them - my standard answer to "what have you done?" is "I snapped my collarbone into three bits") were joining up I would
  • Dance a little with joy
  • Attempt to wear a t-shirt
  • Wash my left armpit properly
  • Roll over in bed
  • Rest my right hand on the handlebars whilst on the turbo. Just for a bit, to remind myself what it was like
  • Not have to strap myself up whenever I get up for a piss
  • Get less sympathy
  • Have to help with the cooking and washing up
  • Be in work full time
Hmm... maybe limbo is the place to be. At least for another week.