#92

Still, cold, slow sunrise and glorious autumn colours were the features of my ride. Beforehand was a flurry of fluffing about not really wanting to venture out into another frigid day. The yellows, fading greens, oranges, reds and browns of the foliage was truly magnificent as the early sun did its best to burn through the lifting mist. I was enveloped by cold, not wanting to stop for a pic in case a pocket of cold penetrated the cosy homeostasis created by my layers. It would probably have been worth it to stop but the focus was on moving to stay warm-me and the cold are not the best of acquaintances at the moment. I think that 4°C is my limit.

Hometime was just as cold, the dark night devoid of the early morning promise 12 hours beforehand. There was more fluffing about deciding on a route but in the end I chose points of deviation depending on how good I felt. And I did feel good, almost strong. About 5km stronger anyway. Rather than the painful pushing against a tired, complaining body of last week, the rhythm was almost effortless in the sense that there was plenty in the tank to go faster.

Which I did. Just. I can’t ride tomorrow so gave myself a license to push it without the fear of suffering as a result on another bike commute the following morning. Maybe this will be normal service over the next few weeks instead of pushing myself to the point of exhaustion and dislike.

It may also make the cold a little more bearable.

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#91

It was another slog yesterday. Cold with the addition of an easterly. Pleasant, warm even-in the summer as the heat breezes over from the continent. But during all the other seasons it’s cold and horrible, even when it is pushing from behind. At least it was a tailwind of sorts and with a pack protecting my back it was OK. The legs didn’t like being out on another transition from mild to cold riding, even with the tights. I just kept a rhythm and this time avoided the level crossing. Granny gears up the hills and freewheeling down was the plan to avoid further objection from the engine room.

More doing the job of 2 while we wait to interview for another administrator was followed by another late finish. I hope that Mrs Doubtfire made the shortlist. After a week of doing it on top of my day job, I’ve had enough…My rebellious legs didn’t fancy another cold ride home in the dark but it was my last of the week.

I aimed for home with a SSE cross tailwind. 2 in one day, a timely wind change. Special. Again, not especially fast. Metronomic as I sorted out the October stats in my head to take my mind off the toil.

  • 15 commutes out of a possible 16. £148 saved.
  • Only 1 dirty drive to work in the month (B2W PB).
  • 749km riding a bike, 4,972metres climbed.
  • 91 commute days for 2019 so far
  • 340 rides for 2019
  • 780 weeks/180 months until retirement
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#90

Its the half term holidays so I did not get the regular rides in at the beginning of the week. Reasons:

  • I was not working on Tuesday so no commute.
  • I need a new chainset for the 29er so cannot ride that.
  • I turned 21 for the 31st time on Monday.

I ran out of time on my birthday and only managed 10km on a semi extended errand after taking the dog for a long muddy frolic around the forest on a cool, dry sunny day.

On Tuesday, the day was equally beautiful so I took the crosser for a spin but 5km out, the rear disc rotor started rubbing against the fitting. I stopped and tried swapping the pads over but it was worse so crawled home with a dark cloud over my head. I picked up a pair of brake pads in town later for the cost of a commute to and from work, replaced them and went for another ride into the closing day. I learnt a lot about mechanical disc brakes throughout the day and was pleased that I got it right first time-there was no rubbing. It was a grand 20km.

So this morning I was all fired up for a ride even though the forecast was for 3°C. effing cold is the technical term but at least it was still and dry. I only felt cold for the first couple of km as I warmed up under the winter jacket, cutting through the frigid air. For the first time since March I was in tights.

In another first in a while, the barriers were down at the Spellbrook level crossing. So I truned around and went 200m up the hill and back again. Apart from getting another cheaty bit of distance under the belt, it keeps me warm and usually passes enough time for the barriers to go up again. But today I got the timing all wrong and they went down again when I was too far away to get across. I repeated the process until I had done nearly a mile of up and down before the barriers went up again. While the roads were not as busy due to the school break but the usual close passing, speeding skullduggery was still there.

Now that the clocks have gone back an hour, even leaving work early will be in the dark for another 6 depressing months. I hate riding in the winter…Tonight was another robotic, perfunctory trip. Colder than the morning. Dark. No picturesque views of the rolling countryside on a sunny, warm evening to take my mind off the struggle.

But tomorrow is another day. These rides never repeat themselves and at the moment I can’t see myself facing a winter of boredom on a trainer going nowhere in particular. We’ll see…

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#89

Another struggle to get out of the sack this morning was followed by a nice mild ride in the mist with no wind. The permawet is here and I have now resigned myself to wet roads until April. When I got my bike out of the shed this morning, I found a hitcher on a rear spoke.

The snail managed to stay on until I wheeled my bike out to the front. He fell off just as I got my phone out

The ride was all about team work, give and take. Despite their tiredness, the legs obeyed magnificently to metronomically spin the pedals. It wasn’t particularly fast but faster than it felt. One of those just get me there rides, thighs groaning on the rises and rewarded for the effort by free wheeling down the hills. Although it was misty, there weren’t many drivers with lights on. When the weather gets bad, the dumbF*©K switch gets flicked on in those who have a pre determined tendency.

Work was another series of mini disasters, the latest 2:

  1. I can’t get the same tyres on the cycle to work scheme. The same tyres that I got last year on the same scheme.
  2. Because of law passed in 2014, as a foreigner, I need a biometric card to retain my right to work in UK and prove it if I want a new job. All that I need to do is fork out £230 & wait up to 12 weeks for an appointment to provide my data.

I would like to ‘u©K off to another country with a decent Prime Minister but driving is worse in NZ (apparently) and it might cost more…

The ride home was much the same as this morning. I have begun to realise that the pain of #69 may have been a watershed. Despite tired legs that would rather sit in the comfort of the drivers seat of a car or the carriage of a train, they put, shut up and performed with an heroic robotic desire to get the hell home.

Tomorrow they rest as I make my first trip of the month in the van to work. They derserve it…

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#88

It was a struggle getting out of bed this morning, despite 7hrs sleep. What has happened to me? It can’t be age or lack of fitness surely! 2 years ago I could easily ride a 200km week and not feel this tired. The answer may be my TSH, the hormone that the pituitary gland reseases to stimulate an underactive thyroid gland to make more of its own hormones to regulate metabolism.

I had a pre health check blood test last week and this was the only result that came out as abnormal. While the level is “mildly” raised, the constant tiredness, low mood, constipation, low heart rate and postural hypotension are all symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland. Of importance is the their role in converting oxygen and calories into energy. I have not shifted any weight in spite of riding 100miles a week and eating healthy. To me that represents a net weight gain, another symptom. So I’m trying to pull some strings with the endocrinologists at work to get re-tested along with thyroid function tests before my health check in a weeks time to expedite the process.

An excellent cholesterol profile. According to the research, that’s what regular exercise does.

The ride in to work was another cool one. It’s down to 5°C in the mornings now. My legs sent out an urgent memo for the return of tights-they were proper cold three quarters into the ride. My upper half, luxuriating in 3 layers was nice and toasty; my head with cotton cap under the lid glad of the same.

Another day, another dollar, another hour wasted sorting out another cock up from someone else who is leaving. Don’t come back, we’ve changed the lock will be parting words (in my head). No doubt I’ll be picking up more pieces of his poor standards in the weeks to come. I just don’t understand how people deal with their conscience when they don’t reflect on feedback, how this affects others’ work life and how damaging it is to the team dynamic.

I stopped by the supermarket to get ingredients for some Anzac biscuits for his bring and share team farewell lunch.

Easy to make and very popular at work

I resisted the urge to replace the golden syrup with lactulose for his special batch to take home. I couldnt remember whether we had enough oats at home to packed a 1.5kg bag of jumbo oats into my back pack.

All the way home in the rain humping a heavy pack, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much inconvenience he has put me through and why he doesn’t deserve the departments finest home baked biscuits. But I came to the realisation that the lunch is more about the team than him, a chance to sit and enjoy each other again after a pretty awful month. Let it go…

I also realsied the pattern of this autumn weather. Cold, still and dry on the way to work. Wet, windy and mild on the way back. But always dark. If I had the choice of winter weather, it would be the mild rainy type. I have grown too sensitive to the cold whereas before I could put up with it. Another symptom of hypothyroidism.

Time to get me those blood tests and get to that 6,000km/100 commutes/365 rides target for the year…

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#87

Despite only riding 22km yesterday, I was knackered this morning and in my usual mood of late to can the ride. Except that I couldn’t because we are skint and don’t have enough petrol in the van to get me there and back until pay day next week. So I jumped into the van with barely a sniff of sunlight at 06.15 and drove to the supermarket, parked up and started into what I assumed to be a week of chaos at work. I was cranky at the thought and hurled a couple of sarcastic insults at some inattentive drivers as I paced through the streets of St Michaels Mead toward the trails. These were sloppy and puddle infested, flicking fine mud over my face and backside. I could feel my worn tyres slide all over the sunken tracks. Again, I’m skint and waiting for the cycle to work voucher to purchase a new pair. Once I re-routed off the muddy stuff I found a decent rhythm in the still, cool air as the mist lifted closer to work.

As expected, work was chaotic with a demob happy under performing colleague being useless and another new colleague not coming a close 2nd of two in the Tuesday useless final. My take no prisoners approach was sensed by those whom it was directed at so the downward spiral of standards has been averted…or now (a lot can happen in 3 days).

But at least todays suffering was not long as I blew off early into a magnificently sunny mild day. Then I felt my left pedal loosen. I looked down-my crank arm was wobbling. I stopped to tighten it. It was OK for another couple of km but became loose again so again I stopped to tighten it. By the time that I got back toI the van, it needed mire tightening. Yep, I need a pair of new crank arms to go with the new chain set, bottom bracket, chain and cassette.

It’s worth mentioning that the cycle to awork scheme refused my order on the understanding that components do not comply with the legislation surrounding the ethos of the scheme. I’ve been debating this via email over the last week citing that other schemes nationally do allow this under the same legislation. They appear to beleive that I am rebuilding my bike and that I should buy another one. My counter argument is that I am replacing worn parts on the bike that I originally bought through the scheme. To buy a new one is tempting but wasteful and to rebuild it would mean new wheels, headset, saddle, seat post and brakes.

They have backed down but I cannot get what I need until the scheme re opens in November. Looks like I’ll be riding the crosser in for the forseeable future until the 29er has his overhaul.

It was a day of 1st world problems. Looking at what Turkey is doing in Syria and the surrounding politics, I think that I’ll take it.

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#86

Heading into the driving drizzle this morning I instantly regretted my choice of layers. Under my barely waterproof autumn jacket, all I had was a merino base layer. I was on the right side of cold and had packed my long sleeve mtb top and rain jacket for the forecast showers on the return journey. But as is the trend so far this autumn, the sprinkles only lasted for a couple of km. After yesterday’s muddy adventures, I decided on the sealed stuff but, as I left later than usual there was more car traffic about.

The normally quiet commute was punctuated with impatient drivers revving engines to squeeze past me on the single lanes. The busier main roads full of important people speeding past to gain 30 seconds on their race to work. It was mild so I took my time getting an extra couple of km in on the shared lanes through town before work, weaving between inattentive teenagers glued to their phones on their trudge to school. Mental note-leave 20 minutes earlier-the benefits of quieter times far outweigh the luxury of extra sleep.

I had to stay late to mitigate a monumental cock up in teaching schedules next week. I was triple booked on Thursday when my tech is away. I know that I am good but not that good. It all left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The administrator who barely gives a damn in part because he is leaving at the end of the week (and doesn’t have to pick up the pieces of his idle lack of planning) left me with a puzzle to unravel and then make better. So my very much anticipated trip home in the daylight was ruined but not half as much as his Monday will be next week due to a couple of strategic e-mails. If you’re going to be lazy, don’t let it affect me. Or else!

So I rode into the very dark and night time going where the wheels wanted, de-stressing. Reflecting. Should I have sent those e-mails? Nah, probably not. Unprofessional. Doesn’t matter anyway-it’ll have no effect.

It’s fair to say that I had a laissez faire approach to the highway code where the wheels went while deep in my thoughts. I did what was necessay to keep my date with a certain Sauvignon blanc. I got home with another imperial ton for the week courtesy of mind over matter.

Except that bloody Strava robbed me of 20 odd km this week. 13km on Monday it lost the GPS signal and last night another 7km.

Monday-ain’t no roads that straight round here

Friday-night time mileage robbery

So I have some making up to do over RWC QF weekend somehow. At least it looks like it’ll be dry.

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