Monday 26 December 2011

What shall I do with my new Go Pro video camera?

Yesterday was, you know, Christmas. Christmas Day. I ate too much, I drank enough, I went for a minor walk with my mother scoping out new bike trails on the common. She should really stop riding illegally, but I indulge her.

I'm very thankful for all of the wonderful gifts I received - everything this year showed some thought behind it which I far more gratifying than costly things that are pointless. I even had a few unexpected items which hit that "I'd never have bought that for myself, but it's brilliant" sweet spot. Some books, clothing, bike stuff.

And... a Go Pro Hero HD camera. Now, if you've not come across these I'll assume you don't mountain bike, drive fast cars, parachute or run with the wildebeast across the plains of Africa. The Go Pro is one of the main cameras for filming yourself doing something stupid and then putting it on the internet. YouTube is littered with people being attacked by squirels, falling off cliffs or eating three week out of date oysters. So, in a world where most videos have already been done, what should I film with mine?

Firstly, I plan to wear it around the office. That way, when people ask me what I do all day I can just point them to the daily video. Thrill as I order a pastry to go with my coffee. Scream as the revolving doors nearly cut me in half. Sleep while I spend two hours listening to how some start-up is going to change the world of mobile phones FOR EVER! The only drawback of this is that I often come across sensitive information, and the other blokes in the gym changing rooms might get a little uncomfortable.

Secondly, the world needs more videos of long, complicated and frustrating bike maintenance. Most bike maintenance videos show you how to fix things. Mine will show how to break tools, strip threads, slice skin and a new array of British swear words. Two hours trying to remove a stuck bottom bracket with increaing levels of violence will no doubt be an internet hit bigger than a dog being chased by a herd of deer whilst two babies and another dog commentate on the action.

Thirdly... well, I'm open to suggestions. Long boring road bike climbs? Gentle descents at safe and cautious speeds? A six minute bike commute where drivers generally see me and give way where required? I just don't know.

Any ideas?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Training block 1, #HauteRoute

Amazing how the prospect of seven days of suffering focuses the mind, isn't it? About three weeks ago I was bumbling around in a haze of indecision, riding a bit here, running a bit there and generally doing my best to devour the European chocolate mountain. Now with some real mountains looming up next year I'm dedicated, organised, dare I say motivated.

I've finished my first two week block of training - I'm now officialy old according to Training Peaks so I can only cope with two weeks of hard work before needing a recovery week. To be fair to TP, last year I was getting pretty wiped out in the third week of each training block so maybe it has a point.

This has been the first chunk of base training - so a reasonable amount of hours, some leg spinny stuff and the fun of single leg drills. I've also been pretending to be beefcake in the gym, lifting some heavy weights. Well, heavy for me. I'm still using the pink vinyl ones, hopefully I can progress to purple next week. They'll match my face then.

My one moment of gym based glory is the leg press machine - I can now do 3 x 6 reps using ALL the weights, a whole 190 somethings. I've never been able to do this in previous years so either my legs are stronger or I'm less worried about tendons snapping.

I've kept to my plan pretty well - TP turns the workouts on its calendar green if you complete them (or get close) - and I reckon I'm 85% green. I also did a threshold test - riding as hard as I could for 30 minutes after a decent warm up. I'm at about the 260w mark, so not bad but some room for improvement. 272w would put me at 4w per kilo of bodyweight (I'm 68kg at the moment). I'd like to get to around 280w+ at 65ish kg, 4.3w/kg. That's still nowhere near Jon in good condition (5w/kg!) but at least I'll be close enough to him up the hills that'll I'll see which way he goes at the top of the climb and don't have to spend the night in the woods with the wolves again.

I apologise. That was a bit geeky. Don't worry, normal service will be resumed next time.

Friday 2 December 2011

Call NASA, the MOD, CERN, the Pentagon and Dr Hawking. I've invented invisibility.

It's astonishing. I couldn't believe it. My bike and I have somehow developed an aura of invisibility. A "cloaking device". A magic ethereal cape.

You scoff, I know. How can a lowly biker come up with such an incredible invention? You are right to ask. Quite frankly, I don't know.

I was first alerted whilst riding to work on Monday when I saw a silver BMW on a side street to my right. The mid-thirties female driver looked towards me, yet in some way looked through me. Like I wasn't there. It was curious. I thought that my day-glo yellow jacket plastered with reflectives was fairly obvious. And that the 240 lumens of flashing Exposure Joystick with wide angle diffuser would have been seen by the dullest of half qualified drivers. However, this wasn't the case as she pulled out on me forcing a violent brake, swerve and shouted expletive.

Ho-hum. This happens occasionally.

Tuesday, mini-roundabout at the end of the road. Van driver (50's, male) shoots past, failing to give way.

Like I wasn't there.

Wednesday, another mini-roundabout. A blue Seat I think. I was ready this time, trackstanding on the painted white circle as the driver breezed past, oblivious to me.

Wednesday evening, a car comes alongside, ahead then brakes sharply to a halt. Why would they do that if they saw the retina searing Exposure Flare? The various reflectors, the Altura Night Vision jacket, the pedal reflectors bobbing up and down 80 times per minute?

Then it hit me. Invisibility. It's either being projected by me (unlikely), the jacket (less likely) or the lights. I can only imagine that the lights are combining to cancel not only each other out, but all the light reflected by the bike and me.

Now, there must be skeptics amongst you readers so I thought I'd video my bike at rest, just so you can see the effect - and how difficult it must have been to see me this week.

Brace yourselves.

Wow. Nobel prize anyone?